Distance learning can no longer be considered the preserve of working adults with many younger students now actively choosing this route. At one time distance learners were considerably older than the general population of students with online courses appealing most strongly to mid-career professionals. Recent years have however seen a rise in registrations from younger students which suggests that distance learning is becoming the preferred learning method for students of all ages.
Here are the three main reasons why prospective students are drawn towards this path of learning.
The dawn of the internet
Technological advances have succeeded in reshaping the educational experience for distance learners. New technology such as virtual lectures and interactive forums have enabled distance learning to establish itself as a dynamic learning model. Students can make video calls to their tutors or ask written questions, which suggests that distance learning can offer as much as face-to-face teaching. Students from all over the globe can enrol onto online learning courses as there are no geographical or time constraints. The growth of social media allows us to remain more connected than ever and has therefore eradicated the distance in the distance learning. With the availability of countless online communities and resources, it is now possible for all distance learners to interact and support one another.
Learn while you earn
Online learning is an appealing choice for cost-conscious students who want further education and good return on their investment. Increased tuition fees and living expenses mean that full-time university is not a viable option for all, whereas distance learning courses can cost as little as a fifth of the price of conventional university courses. Distance learning courses offer flexible payment options where you can pay as you study in monthly instalments which means that students can keep on top of the costs. This type of learning can give students the chance to learn and work at the same time which provides them with the opportunity to remain financially stable and gain work experience to boost their future career prospects.
Convenience and flexibility
The flexibility of distance learning makes it distinctive as students can fit their studying around their life. Many young students are attracted to this style of learning as they are given the freedom to study at their own convenience and pace. They can choose where and when they study – this is a flexibility which is hard to match. This is particularly valuable to those who cannot commit three years to a conventional university degree as they can shape the distance learning programme to suit their lifestyle.
Students now have access to thousands of online courses from institutions across the globe, whether it is a niche subject or something as broad as business. However, institutions are finding that more and more students are dropping out of online courses due to the lack of interaction. In comparison to a class where students are surrounded by peers everyday, the experience of online learning can often be presented as an isolating process. However, it is important to note that online learning itself requires students to be more proactive and therefore the interaction is something that must also be sought out.
The internet is a pool of resources both for information and interaction. With the introduction of countless social media platforms, there are now online communities that can help to foster and facilitate learning. Whilst traditional education promises a classroom full of students and face-to-face interaction with a teacher, online learning offers platforms where students are able to participate in discussions and be a part of a wider and global community. Online education for learners does not have to be void of interaction. Students have the resources to ask questions and provide support to one another, with instructors available in just a few clicks. This accessibility differs from traditional education because students do not have to wait for office hours to see an instructor and can instead contact them instantly via email. They also have the option of posting their questions in a discussion board or on a social media platform where they are able to receive answers quicker than they would be provided in a regular education.
By having the capacity to ask more questions and interact with working professionals from all over the world, students are able to facilitate their own learning process. Online learning places the emphasis on the student to seek out a wider community instead of being presented with a classroom. This not only means that there is no forced interaction but that the students can build stronger bonds throughout the period of their course. There are also countless instructional videos circulating the internet, presenting opportunities to collaborate with students from all over the world.
Although students often find that they cannot quickly ask the instructor a question in the middle of a class or confer with someone in real-time, social media emulates this form of communication and allows students to quickly converse through online chat in order to clarify information when learning. This real-time interaction is integral to the process because it is often in the midst of discussion that ideas are sparked. Therefore, if students make the effort to seek out a platform where they are able to ask questions, online education can often be more enriching than the conventional route of learning.
Another concern that some students have is their overall lack of motivation or encouragement when not being surrounded by their peers. They often find themselves yearning for a sense of belonging, and so seeking out a role in a wider community is essential. Students have to be responsible for pursuing this form of interaction because online education for learners does not have to be a solitary process. There are study groups and countless interactive tools that can be utilised. In fact, an online education can be a more interactive and far less intimidating approach than that of being in a classroom. By allowing students to share their learning and ask questions without the fear of a time constraint, there is more space to develop ideas and a deeper understanding of subjects.
With technology itself contributing to the way that we absorb information and interact with other people, it has proven to be a successful way of emulating the dynamics of a classroom and it is therefore up to the students to both create and pursue a means of communication that works for them. Online education can be just as interactive if approached correctly.
With online courses gaining precedence, more institutions are incorporating them into the teaching and are realising the impact and weight that this route of education can have. In fact, there has been a rise in the amount of universities and schools that are now offering online learning with more and more students choosing to enrol for these courses each year.
Online learning from the UK provides institutions with tangible results in order to measure their outcomes. Through this, they are able to distinguish an increase in revenue from online courses which is a great incentive for them to continue providing them. Whilst institutions place students at the forefront of their teaching, they are essentially still concerned about costing and the profit that they are making from courses. The future will see more institutions focusing on providing an online education because it has proven to be a viable route that is worth investing in. There will also be an increase in schools that solely provide an online education such as the Online Business School. However, some universities are finding that they are struggling with trying to provide and integrate online learning into the education that they already provide without hindering its quality and potential.
The Council of Independent Colleges and the Learning House carried out a survey of chief academic offices in which they found that faculties often act as a barrier to converting to online learning, due to their lack of acceptance. Where teachers are accustomed to standing in front of a class and projecting information, it can often be difficult to integrate new methods and concepts into their teaching. Therefore, some institutions find that it is often challenging for faculty staff to willingly participate in integrating online learning into existing courses or support the idea of courses being solely taught online.
Many institutions already offer distance-learning degrees or integrate e-learning into their teaching. However, taking the step to commit to a full online course can seem daunting and some universities are still questioning its legitimacy.
A benefit of providing an online education is that it opens up the university internationally. Although international students contribute to a large percentage of the student count at universities, online education provides students abroad with access to the university without having to commit to moving to the UK. This not only means that institutions can accommodate more students but also that these students are able to participate in online learning from the UK. The availability of online courses also allows institutions to cater to more students whilst still ensuring that they are gaining a significant revenue. It creates opportunity for them to offer more varied courses whilst also building a network of global connections. Some universities already have campuses abroad, however providing online courses can allow them to have more visibility.
As the job market also continues to become competitive, more individuals are focused on self-development. Therefore, online education caters to working professionals and many organisations already provide online training to the employees with certifications for software such as Google Adwords and Analytics being provided online. Online business schools are gaining more traffic from people that are already educated and are looking to develop and broaden their skillset, therefore e-learning appears to a wider audience and is often the preferred route.
Due to its recognition and credibility, more institutions will eventually begin to move to providing an online education whether that is through integrating it into pre-existing courses or by introducing new ones entirely. Although it may have to be a case of trial and error for some, online learning is already growing in popularity for countless institutions and is resulting in a large revenue being earned.
With countless online learning degrees available, choosing and committing to just one course can often be an overwhelming experience. However, there are some important factors that you should take into consideration before deciding, which not only helps to narrow down your choices but also ensures that you have taken everything into consideration. Although the process can be daunting, it is essential for you to consider how exactly the course can help you as well as future prospects. Here are five integral questions that you need to ask before choosing:
1. Will the course help with my career?
Committing to a course requires a lot of time and money, therefore you need to be certain that it is ultimately going to be beneficial and worthwhile. The course should broaden your career prospects and help you gain knowledge about the industry in which you wish to work. It is important to take some time to look through the modules and topics that are provided in the course information to ensure that they are both relevant and helpful. The course should provide you with an advantage and guide you to where you would ideally like to be.
Asking these questions will help you to finalise your decision and will ensure that you are considering all of your options. An online learning degree should be able to help you build a successful career through enriching your knowledge and providing you with the skills to become more employable. It is important to carry out research and choose the right course to ensure that you are building the best possible future for yourself.
Whilst the idea of online learning used to signify isolation and sitting behind a computer screen all day, with the progression of technology, online learning has also evolved. In fact, even when it continues to grow in popularity, there are still many misconceptions about online learning.
What can online learning offer?
Online programmes make education accessible to everyone. It turns education into more than just being in a physical classroom, and for that reason has more value and provides students with more options. Whilst traditional education seems to be aimed at younger students, online learning is open to everyone and therefore is sometimes the more popular approach. For example, it is a more appealing option for a teacher that is looking to broaden their knowledge about a subject, or a working professional that is looking to gain a more in-depth insight at the industry.
Online courses bring education to you, eliminating the need to have to move away or be present in a classroom at an allotted time. This means that students can work full-time whilst participating in further study without having to give up their jobs. Online programmes offer flexibility and provide people with access to courses that may not be available in nearby universities. There are now thousands of courses online, some of which are free, making education available to those who would not otherwise have considered pursuing education.
Courses are also more engaging through the use of different online learning technologies, thereby ensuring that you are able to retain more information. They also appear to be less daunting and therefore seem more achievable. One of the advantages of online learning is that you can choose and create your own working environment which can be helpful and make you feel more relaxed and less intimidated than being in a classroom.
What is the future of online learning?
Online learning programmes will become more dominant because many universities are already incorporating virtual learning into their way of teaching. Assignments are submitted online, reading material is being posted online and this demonstrates that it is not only a popular but more effective way of retaining and teaching information. With the progression of technology, online learning will develop and eventually become a fundamental facet of education. It also reduces some of the pressure that is placed on lecturers and can be used to facilitate all methods of teaching. For example, asking students to take pre-set online quizzes which provide immediate feedback can eliminate the need for teachers to have to spend time and effort to check through and grade each one of them.
Online learning also requires students to take more ownership of their education, which inevitably helps to improve their time management skills and become self-disciplined. These are two skills which are integral to success and can be difficult to acquire in traditional education when lecturers are constantly reassuring and reminding students of deadlines or assignments. This new method of learning forces student to be self-reliant and independent and are also extremely desirable to employers.
Online learning is an innovative pathway to gaining and developing one’s knowledge. It also makes the concept of education more achievable and perhaps less time-consuming than it would be when having to be present in a classroom. This not only makes education accessible but assures that more and more people are enrolling in courses and choosing to broaden their own knowledge. In a world that is reliant on technology, it only makes sense that online learning will become more dominant.
For many of those searching for employment, having a degree can be the difference between getting a call back and being rejected. Similarly, with the cost of a traditional degree soaring, more and more students are flocking towards an online degree that can be obtained at a fraction of the cost. Of these students opting for online programmes, it seems that the majority of them tend to be at a younger age than previously expected.
What is the appeal of online study?
Why does this attract younger students?
Younger students tend to have a greater online presence than their older counterparts. This can be down to social media where most of their hours are spent. With online courses having their material available in a similar format, it is a natural progression for younger students to flick between Instagram and their study material and back, with ease. The OBS in particular have an app that can be downloaded on many smart phones and tablet devices which makes studying more appealing.
The sheer nature of online study also draws in younger students. Study material can be accessed from home, whilst in bed or even whilst in transit. If a particularly busy weekend is coming up, students can devote the weekend beforehand to making sure they are on task and up to date. The appeal of not having to attend set class times at 9:00AM can be a welcoming thought and as recent reports suggest, a reality for thousands of students.
There are many courses that are available online; IT and Business being at the forefront. With Online Business School, levels 4 and 5 in IT and Business can cost as little as £1000 ensuring that you always can get the career you aspire to have.