Online courses have been growing for years, but since the pandemic have become much more commonplace. Now we know that full-time online study is possible, we’ll see them become the norm. Here’s why.
The way we view education has changed significantly over the last few years. The rise of online learning platforms means it’s no longer as important for students to be physically present. Students today can access high-quality education wherever they are. All they need is access to the internet.
While online courses have been growing in popularity for years, it wasn’t until the pandemic that online study for full-time degree-level education programs was taken seriously. Today, it is, and will likely take over as the norm since it offers so many benefits to both the institutions and the students.
7 Reasons Why Online School is the Future
1. More Affordable for Students
Online classes are often far cheaper than traditional learning environments. Online learners can save money by avoiding paying for on-campus housing and a daily commute. In most cases, online programs (even online degrees) are cheaper than their in-person counterpart and often offer more flexible payment terms. This makes online learning much more accessible than traditional programs.
Many colleges also let online students apply for merit-based scholarships and need-based grants. So, not only can online scholarships save students money, but they can also empower them to apply for grants and bursaries that will make their time as a student even easier.
2. It Offers Timetable Flexibility to Students
Teachers can record seminars and lectures at a time that suits them, and students can watch them on their own schedule. This allows students to juggle other responsibilities such as a job, parenting, or caring for a sick family member while attaining the education they desire without committing to a designated schedule.
It also allows students to create their own ideal learning environment. They can learn at their own pace and adapt the resources to their own learning style. This isn’t usually possible for students attending traditional school programs.
3. It Removes Barriers to Entry for Sick Students
Online courses allow students to work from the safety of their homes. 2020 changed the way we work due to the outbreak of COVID-19, but the health benefits of learning at home extend beyond the pandemic. Many students suffer from chronic illnesses or cannot attend lectures when they are sick. When students choose an online degree or program, they can:
- stop and start the lessons as needed
- watch them from a place of comfort
- learn on their good days and skip the bad
- not worry about deciding whether they’re too sick to miss out on their education if they can’t attend in-person.
4. Better Learning Experiences for Individuals
Online learning allows for a more unique, customized learning experience. Online classes are often smaller than in-person lectures, encouraging students to interact with their teacher and each other in online class discussions. Students are less likely to ask questions in a large class setting, whereas online seminars provide a setting where tutors can offer more in-depth feedback. Typically, introverted students are more confident in discussions when they can think about what they’re saying before submitting their thoughts.
5. Improved Attentiveness, Information Retention, and Responsibility for Learning
Online degree courses with regular testing can improve attentiveness and information retention. A study found that interspersing online lectures with short tests resulted in a 50% decrease in student mind-wandering. It also tripled note-taking and had an overall improvement in the material's retention.
Online programs help students who did not thrive in traditional school learning environments. Online education can improve the learning experience by:
- Encouraging students to take responsibility for their learning
- Avoid traditional school distractions
- Pause lectures when needed
- Take notes however they best learn
- Take lectures when they’re most ready to learn
6. Teaches and Encourages the Development of Essential Life Skills
Studying online teaches students self-discipline and time management skills. It encourages students to find a work-study balance that suits them. Online learning is most popular among those aged 25 and above because they have other responsibilities to work around and are more self-motivated.
Remote learning is also essential in developing tech skills, such as:
- conducting online research
- using new software
- communicating successfully on online discussion boards
- working with others virtually
- attending webinars
- planning and scheduling
All of these skills are essential to the workplace, especially as so many positions are now remote.
7. No Locational Limitations to Topics
Online learning offers a wide range of educational programs. More and more universities are offering online versions of their programs across various levels and disciplines. From art history to forensic anthropology, there’s something for every student.
Typically, students must be prepared to choose their course based on what’s available near them or relocate to be near the school. Relocating for school is particularly difficult for mature students and those studying part-time courses, which can mean that students have to compromise on their ideal course or may be turned off continuing education altogether. Online classes eliminate these issues.
The Benefits of Online Learning are Endless
Every student is different and must look at their situation to decide how to study, based on their needs and goals. While online learning may not be for everyone, it's a practical choice with virtually endless learning options for students looking for flexibility. Online study can help students save money and continue their education around other obstacles and commitments. It can keep students safer in an unstable global situation, and it encourages intrinsic motivation and communication, tech skills and responsibility.