In an increasingly connected world where more and more can be accomplished through the Internet, one of the latest educational trends is online or distance learning. More and more people all over the world are choosing to achieve some or all of their higher education with Web-based courses: the number of universities offering online material and students enrolled in such courses is skyrocketing. Online education is gaining ground and may even become the prevalent form of learning someday.
What advantages explain the growing popularity of online learning? Let’s have a look.
1. Home, sweet home
There are many reasons why a student may not want or be able to attend class. Some have conflicting commitments such as work or caring for family members, others have health conditions preventing them from leaving their home or hospital room, and the list goes on. The first and most obvious advantage of online education is that it does not require physical attendance: all you need is an Internet connection and you can participate in courses from an institution based on the other side of the world without leaving your room. This not only negates logistical problems such as distance and mobility, but also creates opportunities to study whatever you want regardless of where the course is offered.
2. Reduced costs
Online education is cheaper for everyone involved: universities all over the world can afford to offer online courses at reduced rates or even for free because they are more cost-efficient for the institutions themselves, and this in turn reflects on student fees. Online universities do not have to maintain a campus, so enrolment prices are reduced accordingly—and that is not taking into account that students can complete the course requirements without the burden of travelling or finding a place to stay near the institution and that the learning material normally comes with enrolment and does not require additional, expensive textbooks. This makes online learning the ideal solution for economically disadvantaged students and goes a long way in creating equal opportunities to be successful in life.
3. A schedule of your own
Learning from home is not just about not moving: the beauty of it is that you can log in to your online course at any time of the day and take all the time you need to review concepts you are struggling to understand. Your schedule is your own: forget waking up early to go to class, missing vital lessons due to your work shifts, and meeting strict assignment deadlines. Most online courses are self-paced, meaning that they lack a class timetable and can last as long as each individual student needs, regardless of any obstacles standing in the way of their education and even disregarding time zones.
4. Staying connected
When your classmates and teachers may not even be from the same country you are logging in from, it becomes clear that online education is not only a matter of accessing learning material at a distance, it is also a prime opportunity to meet people from all over the world who share your interests and may even open doors for you that would have remained closed otherwise: taking online courses expands your networking opportunities and may even find you international friends or land you your dream job thanks to the connections you have made with your instructors and fellow course takers.
5. Keeping up to date
It is easier to update an online course than a printed textbook. This alone ensures that online education is always relevant and that if you educate yourself through Internet courses, you are less at risk of falling behind simply because you studied from an obsolete edition of the material.
The lack of time constraints also means that studying online encourages lifelong learning: you can start learning anything at any point in your life, whether your aim is to improve the skills you already have or start from scratch in a completely different field. An online course, provided that it comes from a reputable source, can get you the formal certification you need for a promotion or even be the key to reinventing your career completely if you are dissatisfied with where you are in life.