Online learning has many benefits for individuals and employers with most people quoting  flexibility and cost effectiveness as the main ones. These are definitely great benefits, however positive outcomes of the training for the individual and employer are what really matters.

Not only do online courses offer learning any time and anywhere, good quality online courses can give better results than face to face training. It can be more engaging due to the learner going at their own pace, being able to revisit any aspect of the training as often as they want and ask as many questions as they like, with no fear of others judging them, which can be a major motivator. Access to learning can be almost immediate and so can pretty much be on demand to meet an immediate training need. All this has shown that online learning helps to improve the time required to move from learning to understanding, and then competency.

When choosing the right online learning for you or your staff what should you be considering?

Here are our top tips:

1. Learning Objectives

Be clear on your required learning objectives and ensure that any online courses meet them. If you are looking for training that meets a specific set of standards, don’t rely solely on the advertised learning objectives as often these are top level objectives. You can send your standards to the provider and ask them if their course/s map to the objectives, or you can ask for a free trial to check the content yourself.

2. Support

Whether you are buying a short 15 minute online course or a full qualification knowing that there is appropriate support available is crucial. It is unlikely with bitesized and short compliance or professional development courses that you will require subject related support, particularly if you’re buying a good quality course which explains things well. However, you or your learners may need technical support if a problem accessing or running a course arises. With higher level, more technical subjects or qualifications tutor support should be available, whether this is via the system used for accessing the training, by email or telephone. The important point is that you are aware of the support arrangements and are happy with them.

3. Device Requirements

Ensure that the online courses can be delivered to the device you will be using or the device your learners’ will be using.

The points to consider are:

a) The mobile responsiveness of the courses

If using a tablet or smart phone the online courses and the application that they are hosted on must be mobile responsive in design. This means that when you login to the online application where the courses are delivered, and the courses themselves, they will be easily navigable without having to scroll across the page or pinch and expand the page to make it viewable. Non-mobile responsive course design can not only be difficult to undertake on a mobile device, but buttons within the course often don’t function correctly.

b) The browser requirement

Nowadays online course publishers have overcome conflicts with browsers, but you can still come across online courses that are fussy about the browser. It is generally due to conflicts which the publisher hasn’t been able to resolve. So it best to check with the provider that the courses you are interested in will run without issue with the browser you use. What you can’t protect against is if your browser is updated to a new version and the course you are accessing then has a problem. However, in this case the course publisher is going to be quick to respond with a solution.

c) Adobe Flash requirement

Adobe Flash was used extensively in the production of online courses, however with Apple not supporting Flash, and Adobe announcing that Flash distribution and updates are to stop by the end of 2020, we are seeing the demise of its use in online courses. But there are still many courses on the market that utilise Flash, partly due to the cost of re-publishing courses in HTML5, the newest programming language which eradicates the need for Flash and enables mobile responsiveness design. So it is really important that if your device, or the devices of your users do not have Adobe Flash installed, or don’t support Adobe Flash ie. Apple devices, you tell your provider that you require courses that don’t use it.

d) Document requirement

Some online courses have downloadable support documents or an e-book covering the course. These can be valuable additions to the course, but will only be available to you if you have the appropriate software to open them. For instance, a pdf downloadable file will require a pdf reader such as Adobe Reader and a docx file will require Microsoft Word, or a Word reader.

4. Delivery Method

Make it clear up front when speaking to an e-learning provider how you would like the courses delivered to your users. If you’re not sure then ask the provider to explain how their delivery method works. If you have your own system for hosting online courses, such as a learning management system (LMS), then ask the provider if their courses can be supplied to run on your LMS in the format you require.  There is no point in wasting time talking about course content if they can’t meet this requirement.

5. Course Content

If you are unsure whether a course meets your requirements ask for a trial or to see extracts of the content. If you are ordering for one user or a small number of users it’s unlikely that the provider will be able to offer you a full trial of a course. However, you should be able to see a series of screenshots or view a demo version of the course.  For larger purchases definitely ask for a free trial of the course as most providers will be happy to arrange this.

6. Know what you’re Buying

Don’t think that words such as certified, approved, endorsed and diploma always mean qualifications. The terminology used in course titles or to describe a course can be extremely confusing. Terms are often used to demonstrate quality and credibility and have no reference to qualifications. Many terms mean the same thing, as you’ll see from the following course descriptives:

  1. Endorsed – is never used to describe a qualification, but tells you that the course has been checked against the quality standards of the organisation issuing the endorsement, and is fit for purpose. The organisation might be a private company or professional body.
  2. Approved – is never a qualification, but the same as an endorsement.
  3. Certified or Certification – can be a qualification, but most commonly used to identify a vendor awarded certificate such as Microsoft Certification, or it can be a certification service such as the CPD Service. The CPD service performs a service to check the course has been checked against their quality standards.
  4. Accreditation – is probably the most confusing term as it is often used when identifying the awarding organisation of a qualification, e.g. accredited by City and Guilds. However, it also commonly used in the same way as Endorsement, Approved, Certified or Certification.
  5. Diploma – can be a qualification but not always. The definition of a Diploma is ‘a certificate awarded by an educational establishment to show that someone has successfully completed a course of study’, so not necessarily a qualification, but can be. A Diploma listed in the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) is a qualification.
  6. Course Validation

If a provider says that a course, or all of their courses, are endorsed with, or certificated by an organisation that you don’t recognise do some research to find out that this organisation exists and their authenticity. Question how well the accreditation will stand up to scrutiny of anyone who will be checking the training that has been carried out e.g. employer or auditing body.

8. Qualification Validation

If a course leading to a qualification is advertised as being accredited by an awarding organisation you can check this in three ways. Firstly you can check that it is a qualification in England and Northern Ireland by checking it is listed on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) by going to Secondly you can check that the awarding organisation is recognised by going to . Thirdly you can check that the provider is an accredited centre to deliver the qualification by contacting the awarding organisation. If the qualification is awarded in another country the same type of structure will apply.

9. Course Currency

Check that any courses with reference to legislation, guidance from an authority or good practice are up to date.

10. Additional Charges

If you are buying an online course that leads to a qualification make sure you have checked for additional charges, such as the exam or the requirement of a manual.

If you require any advice or support in implementing online learning, or would like to trial courses for your staff do not hesitate to contact us at As Total People Ltd did, a national training provider based in the North East, when they were looking for online learning for their apprentices:

"We have found eLearning Marketplace to be very helpful with great customer service. Using the online courses has helped engage our learners and gives them the knowledge they need in a more interactive way" Curriculum Manager, Total People

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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