With almost everyone owning a computer, smartphone, or tablet online learning has grown to become a mainstay in the education sector. Increased internet connectivity both in homes and in schools has also made it possible for learners to access online courses conveniently and affordably. What’s more, the number of college students taking online courses skyrocketed during the pandemic and has stayed high since. But has online learning improved education in any way? Yes. Here’s how:
1. Self-paced learning
Anyone can now access and excel in education thanks to the flexibility and self-paced possibilities that online learning provides. Learners now don’t need to enroll in full-time graduate programs or even attend physical classes. Working people don’t have to take time off from work to join a professional development program or skip their entire social life just to accommodate evening/weekend classes. Online learning allows them to study on their own schedule and at their own pace.
That aside, every learner is included and is able to stay on the wagon when studying online. Slow learners are often left behind in physical classrooms because professors don’t have the time or will to drill down on a point until everyone gets it. An online learning platform such as Osmosis, an online resource for medical and health students, gives learners all the reference materials they need to excel on their own. Learners get videos, notes, flashcards, and revision questions developed by some of the most accomplished educators. And because lectures exist online, learners can replay them and revisit past material whenever they need to. Learners can even pause a lecture to do additional research, take a breather, or organize their notes.
Bottom line: Everyone has a fair fighting chance with online learning.
2. Healthier learners
By giving you control of your schedule, online learning hands you better control of your health. You can maintain a vibrant social and family life outside the classroom, develop healthy habits (e.g. exercising and meditation), and develop greater discipline. Not having to commute to class also gives you an extra hour or two for sleeping, meditation, yoga, self-reflection, or self-grooming. These are activities that research has shown can significantly improve your memory, confidence, and emotional intelligence.
Being away from the old classroom setting can help you find other spaces like a library, coffee shop, or a corner of your room that you’ll turn into a study corner. This way you won’t get bored in the same setting over and over again and won’t feel suffocated while listening to lectures.
This kind of freedom over your schedule and environment hasn’t been available before and that’s why we have to take full advantage of it now and help create new ways to learn that will benefits us in improving our studying and personal life balance.
3. Variety and diversity
Many renowned educational institutions around the world now offer online classes. This means you can study in a foreign university or college without needing to leave your country. It further means you have a wider range of courses and programs. You don’t have to settle for a mediocre course at your local university.
Online classes bring together learners from diverse cultural and social backgrounds. Being in a virtual classroom exposes you to a broader range of perspectives. On top of excelling in your coursework, you also learn how professionals in your line of work operate in different countries. That gives you invaluable insights that you can later implement in your own professional life for accelerated career progression.
4. Learners pick up extra skills along the way
Learners interact with a ton of digital learning tools when schooling online. By the time you graduate, you will be an expert in digital collaboration, content management, videoconferencing, and basic technical troubleshooting. Your ability to host online meetings and communicate virtually will be unmatched. That boosts your odds of excelling in virtual workspaces- they have increased exponentially since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The pandemic has brought about a major change in this part since now many employers have figured out that they can do their job perfectly from home and being in the office every day is not at all necessary for a good workflow.
By being in an independent learning setting, online learning imparts to learners a wide range of soft skills including self-motivation, proper time management skills, and critical thinking skills. If you’re used to always studying in groups and big classrooms then this independent learning setting can be a great learning experience for you, where you’ll get to discover your strong point and where you lack such as in time management or written assignments.
5. Affordable Education
Online learning cuts the cost of higher education by a huge margin. Some online courses are free and can be accessed by mobile browsers- no cost at all! For the premium courses that you have to pay for, their tuition fee is always lower than you’d have to pay in a formal school. What’s more, when you learn online, you don’t have to budget for transport and restaurant meals. If you’re a parent, you can look after your kids as you learn from home, eliminating the need for a babysitter or a housekeeper. That saves you a few bucks.
This new way of learning has made getting a degree or learning a new skill a more affordable journey for everyone. Which is great news considering the high cost of going to college in the US and most other countries around the world. Education should be accessible and affordable for everyone since it makes a significant difference in one’s future and is a factor that contributes to finding a better job and being able to afford rent, food, and other expenses.
Online learning has improved education all over the world. As technology around it continues to grow and evolve, digital learning will keep growing both in relevance and significance. It doesn’t necessarily have to replace the brick-and-mortar educational setting completely. The two models can complement each other to help learners achieve their educational goals more easily.