Formal or Online Learning — Which is a Better Path to learn AI?
Are you intrigued by chatbots, robots, digital assistants? Have you wondered about self-driven vehicles and virtual assistants like Cortana? They all form a part of the ever-evolving world of AI technology.
This new disruptive technology is already making waves. If you want to be a part of this digital future, then jump into the bandwagon and get yourself reskilled/upskilled, and retrained.
According to the report by Indeed
· AI and Machine Learning job postings rose 29.10% over the last year between May 2018 and May 2019.
· Machine Learning and Deep Learning Engineers are the two most popular roles posted on the site between the same time period.
And the report by Gartner says… Enterprise adoption of AI has grown 270% over the past four years.
With such increase in AI-adoption, the demand for specialized professionals have also escalated.
Result: Surge in demand for 🔗AI Engineer and AI Researchers!
Demand Escalates … Interests Dips…
While the demand for AI professionals has been steadily rising, there is a decline in the interest from job seekers in 2019 and the decrease is by 14.5% in AI-related jobs searches.
What does this drop tell you?
It means that the prospective AI talent is either in school or awaiting training.
So where do you stand…?
This is a question that you can answer best. I can only guide you in choosing an answer!
You can bridge the demand and supply by gaining knowledge on AI concepts either through formal education or through online programs! But do weigh all the pros and cons and compare the both learning modes in terms of –
👉· How to start
Sounds like too much work?
Worry not! I have made the comparison easy for you. But before I start, I think you should know that you need to be ready for future.
You can be future-ready by –
1. Upskilling and reskilling
2. Constantly learning
3. Networking with like-minded people
4. Attending AI-related events
5. Getting your hands dirty in creating a problem and solution to it
Now that you know how to be future-ready, let’s have a look at the ways to acquire academic knowledge. As I mentioned earlier there are two ways — formal and online learning programs.
Learning AI — Formal Education Vs Online Programs
AI is making waves in almost all the sectors and various businesses across the world view AI as primarily a new approach to almost every problem.
With that in mind, let’s understand your career objectives and what are your future prospects in the field based on your interests.
First of all, you need to know your learning abilities –
· Whether you wish to immerse yourself into complex and interesting problems for long time
· Meet highly creative technical individuals to exchange and share your knowledge
· Help shape the development of AI
👉If you wish to follow the path of above-mentioned points, then formal education is the best way for you and you can even consider PhD in AI
· If you are up for life-long learning
· If you can keep yourself up-to-date with new research
· If you can expand your expertise to other domains
👉then online programs are the best way to go forward.
Whether you choose online program or formal education, you will have to –
1. Recognize your areas of strength & weakness
2. Identify how do you prefer to be your learning environment
3. Identify things/objects/situations that distract you
Once you have identified these points then you will be in a better position to answer the question — whether you should go for a formal education or online programs.
Online Programs: MOOC — An Economical Alternative to Formal Education
With numerous online programs available in the market, it has made easy for:
· Employees to re-skill themselves faster and effortlessly
· Aspiring professionals to learn this disruptive technology
MOOC or 🔗Massive Open Online Courses & Certifications are inexpensive alternative to formal education and can be accessed by anyone from anywhere — home or office — as long as there is a strong internet action and a computer.
👉How to start on MOOC?
To begin with you can opt for introductory videos on AI available on YouTube and other online learning platforms.
You can start with beginners’ programs, move on to the intermediate programs and then finally the expert level programs.
Once you have completed these programs then you need to:
· Build few small projects
· Get your hands dirty with various AI tools
· Create/seek your own problem and then find solution
As you start working on small projects, you will realize what are your areas of expertise. This will also be a good time to for 🔗AI Certification program from reputed bodies and get your knowledge validated.
👉Online Programs — Benefits & Challenges …
Here are four benefits of online programs:
1. Economic flexibility
2. Time flexibility
3. Remote flexibility
4. Self-learning flexibility
👉And the two challenges of online programs are
Formal Education — PhD: Benefits & Challenges …
A PhD from a reputed institute can never be inconsequential as the environment is intellectually stimulated with like-minded colleagues who work on shaping the development of AI.
👉Benefits of Ph.D. are that it will also prepare you for skills like
· communicating complex concepts,
· scientific publication,
· teaching and mentoring
👉And the challenges include –
· It is laborious
· It is time consuming
· It will not ensure an easy/smooth entry in AI field
After comparing both forms of learning, you can see that online programs have huge benefits in terms of economic and self-learning flexibility, whereas a Ph.D. is quite time-consuming and can be expensive at the same time.
‘Back to School — Not a Feasible Option’ — Says A Report
According to a survey by Northeastern University and Gallup, the workforce agrees that retraining for the skills in demand today is essential. However, at the same time, employees globally (especially Americans) believe that retraining in a formal way is not a viable option.
So if formal education is not a feasible option for you as well, then what should be the course of your action?
🔗Certifications in AI from reputed certification bodies should be the route you need to take for a successful future. An AI certification will make you a desirable candidate, as the program covers not only the basics but the latest tools and trends related to the technology.