Once upon a time, all Real Estate education took place in a physical classroom with a live instructor. Thanks to the Digital Age (and COVID-19), those days are gone.
Whether you think that's exciting news or a frightening turn of events, you now have choices about how you take your Prelicensing, Postlicensing, and Continuing Education courses. I'm here today to help you sort out the benefits of each delivery option so you can decide what will be best for you.
The Traditional Route
In-person classes are still around, although you may see fewer of them. While schools are finding that livestreamed and self-paced courses have much lower overhead and broader audience reach, student demand ensures that in-person courses aren't going away altogether anytime soon. All classes, including CE Updates, can be taken in person.
So, what's the draw for old-fashioned, in-person classes? Many people still find they learn better in a live classroom environment, for one thing. Something about being face-to-face with the instructor, as well as physically located with other students, helps many people focus on the instruction. Maybe it's the lack of barking dogs, noisy kids, or other distractions that can happen at home. Maybe it's the spontaneity of being able to ask questions without having to Unmute first. It could just be that being in a classroom encourages students to take the class more seriously.
Many people who prefer in-person instruction also like having somewhere to go where they can meet other people -- especially after a year of isolation. Going to class can feel like a special occasion! Face-to-face conversations may be easier to engage with, and connections between people may form better in person. After all, your fellow students are also likely to be your current or future colleagues, so that's important.
What's the downside of in-person classes, now that we're no longer sheltering in place? For one, live classes adhere to a set schedule. If you're juggling multiple obligations such as work, child or elder care, and home or community responsibilities in addition to your class, you may find yourself struggling to meet this requirement. Also, in-classroom classes generally involve some travel. This may be a drawback in terms of additional time commitment, driving hazards at night or during inclement weather, and transportation expense. Finally, if you're still concerned about transmission of COVID-19 or other diseases, you may just not be ready to sit in a room with other people, even socially-distanced. That's a decision each person has to make for themselves.
The technology has been around for awhile, but the Pandemic made it the everyday occurrence it is now and brought Real Estate education into the online era. There are many livestream apps in use for education, but Zoom is one of the most popular. Classes are still conducted live in real time, but students and instructor are physically separated from each other and connected through the streaming app. Again, all classes including CE Updates can be taken in livestream format.
The upside? Students get the benefit of live instruction without the need to travel, or to be in a classroom with other people. Instructors are there to explain, elaborate, and answer questions, and students can interact with and support one another. Maybe the best part: you can take your class in the comfort of your own home or office, with comfortable seating and the fridge just over there.
So why doesn't everyone love livestream? First, there are tech requirements, and not everyone is good with those. There are minimum hardware specs (no, you can't take class on your smartphone) and some basic technical knowledge that you must be comfortable with. Given those, many people find it more difficult to stay focused for several hours at a stretch when "watching" the class on a computer than being in a classroom. Students tend to be more passive and interact less, asking fewer questions. Classes still take place on a set schedule that must be adhered to. And all that homey comfort can be distracting, to say nothing of your spouse, kids, dog, and the delivery person at the door.
If you have (or are willing to purchase) the necessary hardware and are comfortable in online environments, this may be for you. Be sure you have a quiet place to take your class, adequate bandwidth (classes are generally not recorded, so if you get kicked out and can't get back in you've just missed that part), and the ability to stay focused and participate fully in your livestream class, and you can learn in your living room!
You'll see this format called by different names in different places, and there are some slight differences, but the bottom line is that the course is all online, without a set schedule. You will be given access to the course though an account that you will set up at the time of purchase, with a login and password, and will be able to access it as often as you like, whenever you like. Note that all online distance Real Estate courses do have an expiration date, per the NCREC, and time extensions are not allowed. Generally all required materials will be delivered digitally as part of your course access, although optional add-ons may include a printed textbook or other resources. Not all distance courses are "on-demand" courses; a true "on-demand" course will involve a video component. Some self-paced courses do, others do not. Note that Prelicensing, Postlicensing, and CE electives can be taken as distance classes, but CE update courses cannot.
The upside is: no travel, no schedule, nobody watching (so you really can work in your
PJ's!). If 3 AM is your best time to take class, that's perfectly all right. You can work for 30 minutes in the morning, an hour on your lunch break, and another hour in the evening. Or you can pull an all-day Saturday marathon -- by the pool, if your Internet reaches that far! It's totally up to you.
The drawbacks: you really have to be a self-starter to pull this off. As I said, there's no set schedule -- you have to set it for yourself. There's no instructor or attendance requirement -- you have to make yourself show up. Remember, there is a time limit, and no forgiveness if you don't make it. It's also a little more complicated to ask questions than in an instructor-led course. Should you need an instructor's assistance, you'll have to reach out to the sponsoring school to be put in touch with one -- and most of them aren't open at 3 AM!
If you're motivated, independent, and comfortable working online, this is a great option for you -- especially if you already have a demanding schedule that makes regular class meetings difficult or impossible.
So which one is for me?
That's a question you'll have to answer for yourself, but I hope I've at least given you the information you'll need to decide. If you have questions I didn't answer in this post, feel free to reach out through the school email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or the chatbot on our website. I'll be glad to try to help!