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Online learning from universities vs. individual learning from free resources


Gone are the days when students and working professionals depended only on university education through online classes. Today, individuals can learn independently by accessing online degrees from institutions or free online resources independently. However, as digitization progresses rapidly, the world is undergoing a debate surrounding the two education paths.

Learning from universities, especially online programs, offers numerous advantages beyond the traditional classroom experience. Online education from reputable institutions provides flexibility, allowing students to balance their studies with personal and professional responsibilities. These programs often feature the same rigorous curriculum and esteemed faculty as their on-campus counterparts, ensuring a high-quality education. Additionally, online learning fosters a diverse, global classroom environment, where students can network and collaborate with peers from various cultural and professional backgrounds. The integration of advanced e-learning platforms enhances accessibility and engagement, providing students with a wealth of resources and interactive learning tools. Ultimately, online university programs empower individuals to advance their knowledge and careers while accommodating their unique circumstances and schedules.

Online university courses have a formal learning structure because the respective national bodies curate and accredit them. The programs are delivered through virtual classrooms by experienced faculty members or instructors. Students in the university courses follow a comprehensive curriculum, assessment, and opportunities for getting certificates. Conversely, free resources and certifications on the Internet help students learn valuable information inexpensively.

However, when choosing one of the courses, students compare their credibility and learning experiences. The decision between the two courses depends on the learner’s objectives, time management, and finances. Let’s delve into the details of online vs individual learning comparison.

Also read: Tips for recent graduates to land their first job – Online Manipal

The Benefits of online learning from universities

Here are the benefits of formal education vs self-learning:

University online learning courses have a formal structure for different student levels.

  • Students can access the courses and obtain the degree program in any discipline they choose to pursue their careers.
  • Online courses offer credibility and recognition of the degree, meeting industry standards.
  • Accessibility to expert faculties helps students gain knowledge and interact with renowned professors.
  • Online learning facilitates relationships between students and teachers during virtual office hours, email communication, or discussion boards.
  • Students can engage and collaborate easily with their classmates through online forums and group projects, fostering a sense of community.

Students getting university degrees tend to get more jobs with higher salaries than individuals with high school diplomas. In India, 45% of graduates are employed in technical jobs, and 53% are in non-technical jobs. These people get job stability and career advancement with the online learning degree.

The benefits of individual learning from free resources

Free resources help students access course materials from websites, online platforms, and educational institutions.

  • There are endless options, from coding and digital marketing to photography and foreign languages.
  • These resources are more cost-effective than traditional educational degrees.
  • Eliminating financial barriers helps students explore different fields of interest and enhance their professional development.
  • It encourages working professionals to experiment with subjects without fearing wasting or losing money.
  • Self-guided resources enable individuals to tailor their learning pace to their needs and preferences.

Also read: Hear from our learners: How Online Manipal has trained them to face placements

Limitations of Individual Learning from Free Resources

Those looking to expand their knowledge and skills can access many resources, whether online courses, tutorials, or forums. However, it’s essential to recognize the limitations of individual learning from these free resources to make the right decision.

  • Free resources are easy to learn and provide valuable information, but often, their curriculum is inappropriate or not up-to-date. Learners find it difficult to study the topics in proper order due to the lack of structure. It can lead to a fragmented understanding of the subject and hinder progress.
  • It can be difficult to distinguish reliable sources from unreliable ones. Misinformation can lead to misconceptions, incorrect knowledge, and financial losses, harming the learning process. Learners must evaluate the credibility of their resources and seek out reputable sources.
  • Students lose focus and procrastinate without a formal learning environment or deadlines. Moreover, the absence of feedback or evaluation can make it challenging to measure progress and identify areas for improvement. Without external accountability, learners must find ways to stay motivated and set goals for themselves.

However, there are ways to overcome these challenges and maximize individual learning from free resources.

  • Outline a clear learning path and set specific goals for yourself. Break the subject matter into manageable portions and allocate time for each topic.
  • Take the time to research and find reliable resources. Look for courses or tutorials created by experts in the field or trusted educational institutions. Utilize online reviews or recommendations from trusted sources to ensure the quality of your resources.
  • Find ways to assess your progress and receive feedback on your work. It could involve seeking mentors or experts in the field who can provide guidance and evaluation. Moreover, consider participating in online challenges or competitions that provide opportunities for feedback and recognition.

While individual learning from free resources has limitations, it can still be valuable for personal and professional growth. Take advantage of the wealth of free resources available, but remember to approach them with a critical mindset and a proactive approach to learning.

Also read: Motivate yourself while pursuing an online degree!

Why must one consider MAHE for online education?

MAHE is renowned for its commitment to providing quality education. It has been consistently ranked among the top institutions in India and has gained recognition globally for maintaining a balance of self-paced learning vs structured curriculum. With MAHE’s online programs, you can design your study schedule to fit your needs and balance your education with other responsibilities.

MAHE offers various online programs in business, healthcare, technology, and other fields. Moreover, our online programs are designed to provide a comprehensive and interactive learning experience. We ensure students receive a high-quality education through advanced technology and innovative teaching methods.

Students can access virtual classrooms, online libraries, discussion forums, and interactive learning materials to enhance their learning experience and facilitate a better understanding of the course material.

The institute’s faculty members are experts and bring a wealth of experience to the virtual classroom. They are committed to providing personalized support and guidance to students to help them succeed in their studies.


In conclusion, university vs free resources for education have unique advantages. However, online university learning offers a more comprehensive and structured approach to education. It has expert guidance and support, access to various resources, and the opportunity to earn recognized qualifications. In contrast, individual learning from free resources can be flexible and tailored to personal interests and needs.


Information related to companies and external organizations is based on secondary research or the opinion of individual authors and must not be interpreted as the official information shared by the concerned organization.

Additionally, information like fee, eligibility, scholarships, finance options etc. on offerings and programs listed on Online Manipal may change as per the discretion of respective universities so please refer to the respective program page for latest information. Any information provided in blogs is not binding and cannot be taken as final.

  • TAGS
  • online degree
  • online education in India

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