Online learning offers a wealth of opportunities today. In the past, some stigma was attached to online learning. People believed that an online degree or certificate was not worth as much as one obtained from a real college or university. With many very reputable institutions offering online learning, online degrees now hold real value.
You want to advance your career or you’re just entering the workforce and need more credentials, online courses may be the answer. Online learning is popular for many reasons, but here are our top five.
Tuition cost savings
Many students live with crippling student debt from higher education. Online courses tend to be more affordable. Access to course materials, such as textbooks, is usually available at no cost. Students don’t need to pay commuting costs either.
Online institutions usually offer many ways in which students can pay. Discounts may be available if they pay full payment up front for a course.
Online colleges are popular with those who already have a full-time job. Some employers will pay for them to do further education to advance their careers. The proviso is usually that employees promise to continue working for the employer for a certain time period.
One of the best ways to save money on higher education is to lower the number of credits needed for a program.
Many universities and colleges accept credits earned via Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). For instance, college students can take online classes from an accredited college in their vacations and transfer the credits to their primary college.
Many options to choose from
Today, students can choose from a huge variety of online courses, from adding qualifications to improve their careers to getting a postgraduate degree or even a doctorate. No matter what you want to study, from nursing to engineering, it’s possible to find the programs you need online.
Many universities have fully online college degree programs. Students can earn a degree without ever having to physically attend classes.
With fewer restrictions on capacity limits, institutions can expand their offerings. Dana Goodwin, a writer for EssayGeeks, believes that online learning offers some important answers to current educational challenges.
Any institution worldwide can target those interested in a specific subject because obstacles to international studies, such as travel costs and visa requirements, are removed.
Institutions can fulfill the needs of a much larger audience with more diversity in terms of nationality, professional and educational backgrounds as well as study interests.
Learn at your own pace
The attention span of the average student is believed to be about 15 to 20 minutes. Traditional lectures usually last at least an hour. The advantage of online learning is that it allows you to pause and take breaks. The benefit of being able to learn at your own pace is invaluable.
Many of the regular distractions that come attending physical classes, such as disruptive students, can be avoided.
When you study online, lessons are usually self-study. All your knowledge is acquired from the comfort of your own home where you have control over the environment. At the same time, you have the opportunity to communicate with tutors and ask questions when needed.
With the ability to self-pace coursework, you can take longer with some materials and proceed more quickly through others.
Flexible and convenient
With a computer and a good internet connection, a student can learn from almost everywhere. A continual communication portal is open between the student and the institution.
Students can engage with learning materials, tutors and each other 24/7. Resources can be accessed from desktops, laptops and even mobile devices. Everything they need is at their fingertips at all times.
What this means is that you can work at times that suit you, rather than having to stick to a rigid schedule. The flexibility allows you to keep working while continuing your education.
Sacrificing important family time, leaving work early to attend a class or fighting traffic is no longer necessary. Assignments can be done when it suits you, even if it’s over weekends or at night.
Students in online classes are not subject to circumstances that may prevent them from attending important classes. Participation in discussion boards, watching lectures or reading materials can take place anywhere at any time.
Assessment works differently
The type of assessment that works in a face-to-face classroom is not effective in an online environment. With no way to oversee students while they take tests, other ways have to be found to assess them. The nature of online tests is no less rigorous, and students need to have a comprehensive understanding of the material.
Tests are typically open-book. Selected response tests, like multiple choice or true/false, are replaced with a short answer or essay questions that require students to apply facts to novel scenarios. Tests are usually timed, so it’s difficult for students to answer questions if they’re under-prepared.
Generally, small tests take place throughout the course at the end of particular sections of material. For written tests that require more writing, students may be able to download test questions on their computers, save their answers and upload them to send back.
Some courses are assignment-based, so there is no end exam to worry about. Assignments are hard to fake, especially if they occur throughout the course. Having students run assignments through a plagiarism detection service, such as Turnitin, can prevent them from cutting and pasting.
Some exams may be proctored, meaning that students go to a testing place, such as a local community college, to take a test in a supervised location. In these instances, examinations may not be an open book.
Online courses offer many advantages, such as flexibility, convenience and cost savings. Many high-quality courses exist today, formulated by professionals. The stigma of online learning is being left behind as it becomes a solution for some of the problems that exist in education today. All modern students need to consider online learning if they want to compete in a highly technological society.