Why should we study online?

The future is bright for online education and there has never been a better time to study online

By Jeremy C. Bradley

A recent study from The Economist suggests that, compared to their online counterparts, the traditional on-campus programmes are under threat and in decline. The latest figures from the e-learning sector reflects this analysis, with market estimated to grow to a massive $255 billion by 2017. Major corporations are also starting to recognise the potential in online education; Starbucks recently collaborated with Arizona State University to cover their employee’s tuition costs while they earn an online undergraduate degree. 

The number of online education programmes are increasing annually and a recent international survey, conducted by Global Shapers, showed that 77% of respondents had taken online courses in some capacity. The number of people deciding to explore the e-learning route is growing, and there has truly never been a better time to study online. 

Online education is not the future, it is already here

Online education is not the future, it is already here. So, what are the benefits of online education?

Flexibility

The flexibility offered by online programmes mean that students do not have to take time out from their careers, and are able to build their studies around their pre-existing professional and personal commitments. Online learning facilitates the student’s schedule, rather than the educators; something that traditional educational formats have tended to neglect. With employers understandably reluctant to start giving their employees huge periods of time off to study, online courses offer the perfect alternative. This adaptability has made education available to a wider range of people that previously would not have been eligible; online learning is therefore a more progressive and inclusive learning environment.

Studying online represents a unique learning experience that can often be customised according to personal preferences, specifications, or ambitions

Studying online represents a unique learning experience that can often be customised according to personal preferences, specifications, or ambitions, and are ideal for self-starting, highly motivated learners who are comfortable with independent study. Additionally, there is often the option to personalise the speed of your course, meaning you can increase or decrease the workload to suit your requirements. 

24/7 Access & Support

Studying online delivers round-the-clock access to advanced learning resources, giving complete control over your study programme. Online education works to fit your needs and your schedule; you can study any time you like and, unlike on-campus programmes, the online education environment does not have opening hours. You will get support from your tutor, TA or student services as and when you need it.  

Unique Learning Features

Online learning provides access to a wide range of study materials to provide a truly interactive and comprehensive learning experience.

These resources include:-

  • Live or recorded HD video lectures 
  • Study aids: Text books, revision kits, and revision cards
  • Self-assessment options: Including quizzes and other appraisal tools 
  • Podcasts
  • Real-Life Scenario Case Studies
  • E-Learning Apps 

Discussion Forums & Networking 

Choosing to study online means you will be joining a vibrant community of ambitious learners, academics, and industry professionals. You can stay in regular contact with your tutors and fellow students throughout your studies via online discussion forums and virtual classrooms; ensuring that you enjoy a supportive and enriching learning environment. These forums also provide a great source of inspiration, encouragement and support as well as plenty of networking opportunities.

Technology  

Online degree courses allow students to use an array of study resources, usually hosted on an online platform and often referred to as a learning management system, or LMS. The study platform lets you watch pre-recorded or live streaming video lectures, take part in virtual classroom discussions via online chat rooms, and even turn in an assignment with a single click.

Careers Help 

Global recruiters view candidates who have gained their education online while working as being self-motivated, career-driven, and committed to professional progression. Additional, there is no distinction between graduates who completed their courses on campus and those students who learn online. No matter what the industry, if an organisation has not moved to the digital realm they are certainly making moves in that direction, and companies today are looking for employees who are both academically and technologically savvy. Consequently, there is no reason not to take advantage of the educational opportunities presented to you by modern technology.  

About the author

Jeremy C. Bradley undertook legal training at the University of Leicester and has published on LGBT rights, feminist jurisprudence, empathetic responses to legal decision-making, and social power. He has also presented at the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals.

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