Students around the world are continuously seeking alternatives for traditional education, especially now that high tuition fees, shortage in terms of course availability and institutionalized budget cuts, among many other challenges, have been on the rise. The most famous and effective alternative for the past four years, however, has been online learning. As world-wide technology improves, the viability of full-time online learning has become more established month after month.
With more than three million students currently enrolled in fully online degree programs, and six million others who are taking at least one online course as part of their degree program, online education has clearly become one of the most popular higher education alternatives. The continually improving reputation of online learning has also helped fuel its expansion, as initial skepticism has faltered in the face of overwhelming evidence that shows how online learning can be just as effective as face-to-face education.
The benefits of enrolling in online courses and programs span not only from the elimination of traveling; it also involves the availability of more programs and courses, higher levels of academic productivity, and significantly lower financial requirements imposed on students. Below are eight benefits of enrolling in online courses that can make anyone consider taking up this alternative learning method:
Variety of programs and courses
Before, online courses have been limited to arts and creative writing, such as Multimedia Studies, Multimedia Arts, Literature and other arts disciplines. Nowadays, the plethora of available programs and courses has grown exponentially. Furthermore, because of the viability of online courses, the availability of these programs has increased – now, anyone can be enlisted in their choice of university/college with their preferred course without the fear of classes being “full”.
From traditional four-year-university programs to completely online vocational workshops, higher education today offers a variety of options for students. This means that no matter what students wish to study, from Nursing and Neuroscience to Education and Environmental Science, they can find the courses or degree programs they need online. They can also earn every academic degree virtually – all the way from a career certificate to a doctorate.
Reducing the Total Cost of Studying
Online programs can be a more affordable option than traditional colleges, because of the amount of money that can be saved simply by not physically being in a school. Though not all online degrees have less expensive net tuition prices than traditional colleges, associated costs are almost always less expensive.
For one, there are no commuting costs. A student can save $40 to $60 (sometimes even more) every month just because they don’t need to take the bus, a cab or even their cars when going to school. Renting out a dormitory is out of the question, and that’s a lot of savings for a student. Furthermore, there are much less required course materials such as textbooks or handouts because their digital alternative is often available for free online.
Aside from the amount of money that students can save by eliminating the requirement of commuting, there are also safety issues that can be solved through online learning. Students can be safe from natural disasters, road accidents, or even rogue attacks from pick-pockets (though that’s not exactly likely) through in-house schooling.
During snowstorms and thunderstorms, colleges may cancel classes; if they don’t, you run the risk of getting hurt in dangerous driving conditions. Rather than miss important class sessions, students in online courses can always “attend” by participating on discussion boards or in chat sessions, turn in their work on time, and watch lectures or read materials. Not having to commute from home to the college poses a lot of benefits for all types of students.
More comfortable learning environment:
Studies have shown that students with the most comfortable learning environment learn the most – that is, depending on how the students perceive comfort. Some students prefer studying in their pajamas. There are students who prefer studying in cooler environments, while some prefer room temperature. Sometimes, campus seats aren’t the most comfortable ones, too! The truth of the matter is that enrolling in online courses allow students to choose (or make) their own comfortable learning environment.
At the end of the day, there is one underlying benefit of being enrolled in online courses: there are no physical class sessions. Lectures and other materials are electronically sent to the students who can then complete assignments in the comfort of their own den. Students do not have to endure the stresses of going through heavy traffic, finding parking spaces, leaving work early to get to class on time, or missing out on other important engagements as opportunity costs.
Plus, online course students can also take a power nap whenever they want to without having to deal with the banter of professors. Their learning environment is of their own making, and they can customize it to the fullest to achieve the best learning environment.
Aside from comfort, students can also make their learning more effective by having access to tools or supplements that aren’t generally allowed during class. For example, students can enjoy munching on brain food such as nuts while listening to a lecture or taking an examination.
Convenience and flexibility:
Online courses give students the opportunity to plan their study time around the rest of their day, instead of the other way around. Students can study and work when they are at their peak energy, whether that’s early morning or late at night. If a student is an innate night owl, they can easily adjust their schedule to effectively attend to their class requirements.
Also, course materials are always accessible online, so there’s no need to schedule special trips to the library. The best part is that should a student miss a lecture (because of an emergency or a medical issue), he or she can view the materials any other time of the day. Furthermore, students have the chance to use the resources from available applications like that from Team Treehouse or Khan Academy as the need arises. All of these makes online learning a good option for students who need to balance their work, family time or any other commitments.
More Ways for Students to Concentrate:
Online courses offer students facing challenges in terms of socializing (such as innately shy ones and socially anxious ones) the opportunity to participate in class discussions or chats with more ease than face-to-face class sessions.
Online courses help introverts or students with social anxiety cope better in terms of learning. They won’t need to talk more, to be forced in recitations, to put themselves in embarrassing situations, or be hindered from learning just because they simply can’t socialize as well as others.
With the technology right now, students can take online courses and even complete entire degrees while working, while in-between jobs, or while taking time to raise a family.
This academic work can explain any discontinuity or gaps in a resume as well. Also, earning a degree can show prospective employers that the student is an ambitious and driven individual, and would want to remain informed and prepared for any new challenges.
Improve other skills like technical skills:
Even the most basic online course requires the development of new computer skills. As students learn to navigate different learning management systems and programs online, they acquire basic skills pertinent to their future profession.
The skills students learn while participating in their online courses translate to actual profession job skill set, including creating and sharing documents, incorporating audio/video materials into assignments, completing online training sessions, among other functions. These are tasks that students, however they completed their education, need to know while working in the workplace anyway.