The Internet’s advent and subsequent large-scale integration has forever changed how we think and learn. As many teachers and parents can attest to, school and classes are one of the many fields touched by this technological revolution. With the information superhighway providing quick and convenient access to learning, online learning has become a means to impart knowledge on a grand scale.
This increased accessibility doesn’t mean the learning experience is lacking though. Instead of a homogenized package, online learning delivers diverse enrichment for kids that doesn’t just enhance traditional learning methods—it stands side-by-side with them as a viable alternative.
What is Online Learning?
Right now, by reading this article, you’re using the internet as a means to obtain information. In your free time, you may have decided to look into online learning, conducted a search, clicked a link and found yourself here. Online learning is similarly accessible—it’s done on the learner’s time and on their terms—but there are two big differences.
Firstly, online learning typically follows a structured course format that’s prepared by academic experts on the chosen topic. Additionally, online learning often connects the learner with a virtual community that acts as its own always accessible resource.
Advantages of Online Learning
The online learning business is booming—an outlet called Research and Markets said that, by 2025, online learning will be a $230 billion industry—due in no small part to the advantages of online instruction. So, why is this learning method an option increasingly chosen in addition to or in lieu of traditional academic settings and routine? Each learner is unique, but a few popular reasons prevail as to why online learning works for a growing number of knowledge seekers.
Online learning allows knowledge seekers to enroll at any institution around the world that offers virtual courses. This makes it possible to attend dream schools, participate in all-star programs or learn from specific instructors without uprooting their lives or taking on the costs associated with relocation.
In addition to the luxury of staying put, this flexibility eases the burden academics can place on other aspects of a learner’s life. Children are able to complete lessons anywhere they carry their device. Busy kids with packed schedules can tackle assignments when they aren’t in class or at practice. Students dealing with health or transportation issues that keep them from attending class in a traditional academic setting can take part in lessons from home.
Sure, coursework eventually needs to be completed, but it can be done when the student feels comfortable engaging with it instead of acting as a captive audience in a lecture hall. However, if life’s responsibilities, the people you love or the activities you enjoy don’t operate on a fixed schedule, online learning will patiently wait its turn while you’re managing your time.
Improved Retention Rates
At every level, traditional academic instruction can come under fire for leaving some learners behind. One of many reasons this can happen to a student involves the mindset they carry into their classrooms—if negativity comes along for the ride, that class period can be completely wasted.
That negativity can impact concentration, causing the mind to become distracted and disconnected from the lesson. Because of the staggered sort of attention paid during instructional time, recall also becomes difficult, distorting what should be clear facts learned during class. Pursuing an online education affords the opportunity to avoid instruction if the student is unfortunate enough to face a bout of negativity. Lessons should be taken when comfortable and in a pleasant state of mind.
Course materials can also be accessed as many times as desired, so there’s not a chance to miss an important piece of instructional information during a lapse in concentration or a trip to the bathroom. Those learning materials can be read again and again at the learner’s leisure, and unlike notetaking errors or the aforementioned situations, there’s not a chance of incorrect information being present.
Those lesson materials often contain various file types, like the mixed text and visual aspects of a PowerPoint, the engaging allure of full-motion video or the traditional delivery of an audio lecture. Whichever sort of learner a student is, online learning gives instructors the opportunity to service as many different learning styles as possible without worrying about serving each student within the time constraints of a normal class. These different materials can be accessed together all at once, leaving students to decide how best to interact with and absorb that lesson’s information.
More Affordable Than Traditional Education
In the United States, class credits are expensive for full time students. Additional charges, fees and financial responsibilities can be enough to make an education seem like a sure path towards insurmountable debt.
In addition to the cost of credits, many traditional institutions charge parking fees as well as fees for facilities students may not even use, like gyms and computer labs. Commuting uses fuel, may require tolls and puts wear on a vehicle that requires periodical servicing. Public transport is another—possibly expensive—option, while living on or near campus comes with its own set of financial responsibilities. Last, but certainly not least, the number of alluring food options both in and around an institution can be a financial drain while cooking and eating at home is usually a healthier option and will save money.
Even if the institution a student chooses to attend charges for some on-campus amenities, participating in classes from home allows for the shedding of so many other fees and expenses that traditional academics seems to require upfront. This can help avoid the stress of challenges traditional students face before they even step foot in the classroom.
Easier Access to Experts
Our reality is one of constant connectivity—if we aren’t familiar with a specific business, we can ascertain their product or service and obtain their phone number in a matter of minutes. When enrolled in a course, students gain that kind of access to professionals experienced enough in their field to teach courses about it. Online learning students can log in and begin an email to one of these experts just as easily as they can look up and call the nearest pizza place.
That instructor is usually teaching for a reason—they may be eager to impart their knowledge onto another who’s interested in the field, so despite the awkward feeling instilled in learners from years of being too embarrassed to ask a dumb question in front of their peers, send the email. The only people who’ll see the question are the learner and instructor, and that effort can lead to everything from better understanding of a concept to a networking opportunity.
These sorts of interactions can be difficult to obtain in a regular academic setting where instructors juggle large class sizes with other responsibilities.
Increased Opportunities for Networking and Collaboration
Access to the instructor is one thing, but the ability to message and discuss the shared class experience with every person in the course is an invaluable tool, especially if used properly and conversations steer themselves towards collaborative, supportive learning. This is also another networking opportunity since the self-contained group you’re now part of is full of people pursuing similar opportunities or interests—your project partner could become your fellow intern, coworker or friend.
Going through a course also adds your name to the list of alums who’ve received the same wisdom, the same experiences and, presumably, the same instructor. Those folks are already in the world, putting those skills to use—and they may have opportunities for you to do the same.
Greater Variety of Course Options
With online classes, rich catalogs for every type of study is available for your child at your fingertips.
Music lessons, writing, photography, sewing—an amateur picking up any of these tasks can benefit from the guidance of someone more experienced, and virtual learning has made it easy to connect with a de facto mentor across a large number of skills and interests. The traditionally lower costs of online learning also make for a low barrier of entry to those mentors and the opportunity to try multiple classes, regardless of whether you’re studying the same subject or branching out and trying something different.
This sort of variety and accessibility helps to promote lifelong learning, a concept that can prove enriching and exciting for those who choose to devote time to it.
How to Get Started with Online Learning
Becoming one of the growing number of students turning to online learning for their academic pursuits brings a lot of pros with it. Easy access to instructors and peers, time flexibility, cost effectiveness and a variety of learning options come together in support of what’s already a viable option for kids living busy and modern lifestyles.
So, how can you explore online learning options for your child? Visit Juni Learning to flip through the catalog of course options and start benefiting from the advantages of online learning!