There is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way that we do things a great deal. Information access and communication are significant benefits and online education is growing. It has opened up the availability of education so that learning is now available for all.
Online Education is in Demand
In 2017 the number of students that enrolled for courses exclusively online grew to 15.4% according to this report from the National Center for Education. This was an increase in 2016 where the rate of exclusively online students was 14.7%. The demand for online education and learning will continue to grow.
According to a January 2018 report, the market for global online education will see a compound annual growth rate of more than 10% and by 2023 the size of the market will be around US $286 billion. In 2017 the market size was US $159 billion.
What are the Advantages of Online Education and Learning?
Imagine that a student wants to take a course and cannot find a college or university that offers this course. What do they do? Well, they look online for the course. They will be able to take the course regardless of where they are in the world. There are many advantages to online education and learning:
- You can learn any subject that you want
- You can do this from the comfort of your own home
- Employers like to see online courses on your resume
- You can learn at your own pace
- The costs are lower than traditional methods of learning
- It is more flexible and convenient
- It is easier to concentrate with online learning
- You can interact with teachers on the Internet
- You can study part-time while you are working
- There is a wide range of courses and programs available
Get an Education regardless of your Location
Traditionally people have had to move to another city or state to pursue their education goals. This means that they are away from their loved ones and friends and have the expense of finding accommodation.
In some countries across the world, there are issues that prevent some people from attending traditional colleges for their education. It is hard to believe in this day and age, but in some countries, women cannot attend colleges to get their education.
Online education and learning help to eliminate the barriers and borders preventing some people from obtaining the education that they desire. These social restrictions do not exist with online learning.
People no longer have to move to another city, state or even country to achieve their learning goals. They can experience high-quality education through online learning from home and learn at their own pace.
You can Learn Anything that you want
Let’s be honest here. It can be really tough to get into a prestigious education establishment such as Harvard University or Stanford University or even Oxford University in the UK. People that apply to these institutions will often give up on their education dreams if these institutions don’t accept them.
No such problems exist with online learning. You can access a high-quality online course no matter what your background is. There are no politics involved in online education. You do not have to have a certain amount of money or have the right connections to take any online course that you want.
Online learning covers many subjects. It is not just about providing degree level courses. You can learn just about anything online. Not everyone uses online learning to obtain a degree. There are many courses available for people in the online business world for example such as:
- Building an online business
- Digital marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
There are a number of specific skill-based courses available as well including:
- Graphic design (e.g. Adobe Photoshop)
- Computer programming (e.g. Python, Java)
- SQL and database creation and management
- Web design and development
- Search engine optimization
It is also possible to find free online learning courses. Some of these are available from the more prestigious universities as they are behind the premise that education is for all and should be free. Here are some websites that offer free online courses from prestigious learning institutions:
- EDX.org – offer free online courses by MIT, Harvard, Berkely, and others
- Coursera.org – provide free online courses from Yale, Stanford, John Hopkins, and others
- FutureLearn.com – courses from prestigious learning establishments around the world
- Alison.com – online courses with certificates
Then there are large websites where you can learn virtually anything for free or at a low price:
- Khan Academy
There are so many choices available that we just can not list them all in this article, and If you want to study for a degree online you can do that. If you want to learn a specific skill such as computer programming this is possible. Whatever you want to learn it is very likely that there will be an online course that you can take.
Comfort, Cost Effectiveness and Flexibility
Some people find the traditional classroom environment motivating as they want to achieve the best results. Other people find this overwhelming and it doesn’t motivate them at all. There are some students that need the discipline of a classroom setting to keep them on track and there are others that are self-motivated and can learn on their own.
When you participate in online learning you can study in the comfort of your own home. If you are finding things a little tough then nobody apart from your online tutor needs to know about it. You will not have the same pressure that the traditional classroom brings to bear.
It is also a lot more comfortable to learn from home. The classroom can get pretty uncomfortable after a while. If you want to lie on your bed and study at home then you can. Your couch at home is likely to be a lot more comfortable than those hard chairs in college.
There is no commuting, moving to another state, paying for accommodation or any other major expenses associated with online learning. Usually, the cost of an online course is significantly less than attending a traditional learning institution.
If you are attending college or university you will need to get up early every day to attend classes. You do not have to do this with online learning. It doesn’t matter what time of day you start your online education. It is a lot more flexible than traditional learning.
Better Concentration and Communication with Tutors
It is often a lot harder to concentrate on classroom tuition. When a group of friends gets together in a classroom there are always going to be distractions such as people sharing jokes with each other and other things.
Some people are shy and will not want to make a specific point when they are in a classroom setting. They feel inhibited and do not want to look stupid in front of their peers. If a tutor asks a question then it is usually the same people that will answer it.
There are no such inhibitions with online learning. If you don’t understand something or want to make a specific point then you can do this in privacy with your tutor. A lot of people that take online courses feel that they are able to communicate better with their tutors and build a stronger relationship in an online environment.
Online Learning is often more interesting and fun
If you attend a traditional college or university then the tutor can make or break the course. A lot of educators are stern and disciplined and stick to a rigid formula of teaching. They will recommend textbooks and follow these to the letter. This tends to make learning sessions very dull and uninteresting.
With online learning, people can learn new things in a fun and interesting way. A lot of online courses do not follow a textbook learning doctrine and there are all kinds of multimedia and interactive experiences that can make online learning a lot more interesting.
There are no Barriers for Disabled People
If a person has a disability then moving around campus and interacting with different people can be a real challenge. Although there have been a lot of improvements to help disabled people in learning establishments it is not perfect and there are likely to be situations which are a clear disadvantage to disabled people.
With online learning, there are no disadvantages for disabled people. If a person has a learning disability then an online course is often a lot better for them as they can take their time. They can also benefit from watching videos and using other technology-based learning tools.
Benefits of Online Education and Learning for Educators
There is a lot of pressure on traditional learning establishments at the moment and this is not going to go away anytime soon. Costs are rising in universities and colleges because they are spending more on rising tutor salaries, administration costs and expensive technology.
Governments are reducing their support for traditional learning institutions claiming that they cannot subsidize them any longer. The amount of money provided by governments to educational institutions is reducing every year.
In the United States, a number of analysts predict that some colleges will be bankrupt in the next 20 years. Some of the most famous colleges are included in this. To make up for funding shortfalls, colleges and universities pass on any additional costs to their students and in some cases, student fees have risen by 25%. Student debt in the US is at an all-time high.
The business model of traditional educational institutions is also under pressure mainly from technological advances. People no longer have to attend a classroom for their education. All they need is a computer or mobile device and an Internet connection.
One way that colleges and universities have been able to reduce their costs and improve their return on investment is to introduce online learning courses. This has the following advantages:
- A reduction in overheads (classroom resources and tutor expenses)
- It is more scalable
- Meet the needs of employers who are looking for competency skills rather than people with degrees
Colleges and universities need to adapt to the changing needs of employers. They want to see a move away from traditional degree courses to post-secondary education bundles that have a clear connection to careers.
High Demand for Continuing Education
Educators are seeing significant demand for continuing education and retraining due to automation in the workplace reducing the number of jobs and globalization. People that are seeking professional development will find online learning very attractive as they can learn when they have the time.
In the past colleges and universities saw online education as an “add on” to traditional classroom learning. This is not the case anymore. There are millions of searches every month for online learning and there is a lot more choice now.
It is in the interest of colleges and universities to offer high-quality online learning that will provide benefits to students and create a potential financial lifeline. Many have already started to provide online learning courses and are seeing the benefits of doing this.
Online Learning helps Corporations stay ahead
We are living in a digital economy and many corporations want their senior executives to make a digital transformation so that they can remain competitive. Technology changes at a very fast pace and companies and other organizations need to keep up with this. Continuous learning is the order of the day.
Online learning provides a very flexible way for companies to ensure that they upskill their people in a scalable manner. Deloitte is committed to this and has created the Deloitte Leadership Academy which provides their people with access to all kinds of content such as training videos, and provides guide participants and self-assessments to earn badges.
This has been very successful for Deloitte. Many visitors to their learning website return every week and the total number of visitors continues to rise all the time. They have demonstrated the power of online learning for corporations with this initiative.
The Future of Online Learning
The future looks bright for online education. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Online students and tutors can be located anywhere in the world
- Students learn things that they would never learn in textbooks
- Online learning is perfect for people that are in full-time employment
- Companies are looking to upskill their workforce to keep pace with technological change
- Professionals will use online learning to compete in a digital world
Some people still value a classroom-based learning environment today but many people prefer not to commit to one learning institution for their education. Online learning provides flexibility for people to learn at any time and at their own pace. They can even learn on the go with mobile devices. Online learning is here to stay.