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MS Word Level 1 versus… MS Word Level 1?

Posted by Dave Campbell

7 Tips on Comparing Courses at Different Schools

Adult learners have many and really varied options when it comes to career training. Classroom, online learning, hybrid, one-on-one, text books, no textbooks, fees and more. It can be hard to know what is going to offer the best value for your money and time AND help you to meet your career goals.

We are going to outline the key factors in adult learning options and how to choose what is right for you as well as showing three different Microsoft Word courses and how they compare.

Teaching Method

How you learn (after the subject matter you choose) is probably the single most important factor in choosing your course. And with advances in technology there are more options than ever.

  • Classroom: We all have experience with the traditional classroom. This environment is at least familiar and you likely know already if you can thrive. If you have had good experiences in the classroom, this may be a good option.
    • Pros: Generally average to lower cost; familiar environment; usually there is a textbook (for additional cost); recognized and fundable through StudentAid, WorkBC, WorkSafe etc
    • Cons: About 25-40% of time is spent organizing and answering questions not of value to you; you must go at the pace of other learners; little to no one-on-one support; may not fit your learning style; generally inflexible schedules
  • Online or Distance Learning: The quality and cost of this style of learning varies enormously, as well as cost. On the face of it, this can seem like a great option due to enormous flexibility and often very low costs. There are a few downsides but the biggest is that if you run into challenges, there likely isn’t anyone to assist you.
    • Pros: Ultimate flexibility; generally low-cost; high-quality computer assisted training is geared to support diverse learning styles (ie Visual, Auditory and Hands-On learners)
    • Cons: No support if you have challenges; no accountability (your own will power to avoid Netflix!); usually not recognized; usually can’t be funded; rarely is there a textbook included
  • One-on-One: Many schools offer tutoring options. This is by far the most expensive way to learn, running up to $50 or even more per hour. The challenge is that most people don’t need 100% tutored training for all of a course. In reality, the average learner only needs occasional one-on-one assistance with particularly challenging concepts.
    • Pros: Very flexible; meets your specific learning style, especially hands-on
    • Cons: Very high cost; often no textbook included (printed handouts or no materials at all)
  • Hybrid: Academy of Learning, over 30 years of career training across Canada, has developed a hybrid of technology based training and old school textbooks and one-on-one tutoring. The core concepts are covered through the ILS (Integrated Learning System) similar to online learning but on steroids. This allows students of all learning styles (Visual, Auditory, Hands-On) to thrive. In addition, we include textbooks that cover all of the course materials. And last but not least, we always have Learning Coaches on the floor to help you through those challenging pieces, basically tutoring-at-need, to ensure that you keep your learning flowing!
    • Pros: Flexible schedules including evenings and part-time options; massive textbooks included; computer assisted learning for all learning types (ie Visual, Auditory, Hands-On); professional campuses that keep you accountable and on schedule; self-paced; cost-effective; recognized and fundable
    • Cons: May not be a good fit for those with serious learning challenges

Course Contents: A Word By Any Other Name…

MS Word Level 1 should cover the same material regardless of where or how you take the training right? Wrong! What might be covered varies enormously. Courses at two different schools may have very different training for what appears to be similar courses.

A few things to watch for:

  • Duration: How many hours of training is included? A Level 1 Word course can range from a one-day 4 hour seminar to nearly 30 hours of self-paced training with tutoring support. Obviously, the more training you get in the course, the more valuable it is. Keep in mind that a classroom or seminar environment is less “dense” or covers less material in a similar period of time than computer assisted or one-on-one training.
  • Texts and Materials: Does this course include or require a textbook? Many schools are moving to text-free or digital textbook courses. This is unfortunate. Not only does a text book act as a great reference for the future, a physical textbook also vital to learning for visual and hands-on learners. Especially if there is ample space for notes! If possible, find out what the textbook looks like, if it covers all of the course material, and how much it costs.
  • Contents: What topics are covered? How in-depth does the course go on each topic? Does it cover very basics or from beginner through to middle intermediate? Compare course outlines if at all possible and be leery of courses that have no or very vague outlines. “Everything you need to learn about Word in a Day!” is not a reliable or reasonable outline or expectation. When comparing course outlines, look for broad areas of coverage and see who offers the most training and what level of detail is covered.

The Cost Involved

It’s easy to look at the listed course price and make a decision based just on that. But more than cost, you should be looking at value. A free course sounds great, but if you don’t learn anything, get frustrated before finishing, or the quality of training is just very low, then free isn’t really free. You’ve probably spent a lot of time on something that has no value to you or your career. Here are the factors to consider around cost and value:

  • Tuition: This is the listed cost of a course. In most cases, textbooks, registration and other fees are in addition to the tuition, especially with certificate or diploma programs. Make sure you know exactly what the tuition covers. Fees and textbooks can run up to 30-50% in addition to the listed tuition.
  • Cost per hour: It’s worthwhile to figure out exactly how much you are paying per hour of training. Obviously a program that includes extensive one-on-one support will be cost more per hour than a classroom or seminar environment.
  • Fees: Every training organization has some fees involved. This may be waived or included in your course or program costs. Make sure to find out what they are and if they are all applicable to you. Generally long-term programs include more fees than individual courses. If fees are more than 15% of the program or course fees, that is a cause for concern.
  • Textbooks: They are expensive! Find out if your course includes textbooks and whether or not they are included in the tuition. Most often tuition does not include textbooks. Academy of Learning is rare by including the textbooks for all courses and programs in the tuition. We do this so that students know exactly how much their education will cost and not get any unpleasant surprises after registration.

Summary: But what’s the best???

There is no single correct answer, just the best answer for you as a student and your goals for your career. Keep in mind these 7 key points:

  1. What is your learning style and what is the best environment for you to learn in?
  2. Does the school offer schedules that meet your needs?
  3. Can the school you are working with help with funding? (i.e. StudentAid, WorkSafe, WorkBC etc.)
  4. Does the course cover the material you need?
  5. Would you benefit from textbooks and if so, are they included with the course?
  6. What is the cost per hour for training and does it seem reasonable?
  7. What are the fees and “hidden” costs of the course?

To help you on your way and visualize these concepts, below is a chart comparing Word Level 1 at three different schools using three different teaching styles:

  • Academy of Learning with our hybrid of tutoring, textbook and technology assisted training
  • A traditional classroom environment
  • A private college offering one-on-one tutoring

A Sample MS Word Course Comparison:

MS Word Training Comparison

Three level of Microsoft Word training is available at Academy of Learning, both as individual courses and as components of many of our Certificate and Diploma Programs! Our Administrative Assistant Program is just one!

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