Many people are taking advantage of online learning as a way to advance their careers, improve their skills or just further develop their hobbies, all the while making much better use of their time.
Online learning also provides advantages for those who don't have the opportunity or resources to take classes in person.
If this mode of learning fits your style or your needs, this article will show you five key benefits you’ll gain from taking an online course.
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What Sets Online Learning Apart?
Online learning is a form of education that takes place outside the traditional classroom, and it typically involves using an online educational technology platform.
These platforms are designed to be simple to use, can operate 24/7/365, are cost effective and provide many of the learning tools that are available on-site. Some examples are: quizzes, feedback from instructors and students, assignments, grading, and in some cases even office hours.
Types of Online Courses
Online learning platforms are no longer in their infancy and now offer a wide variety of online courses for basically every possible need.
Some specialize in courses that are targeted for beginners, like introductions to photography, book writing, blogging, decorating, playing instruments and learning languages.
Others cater to advanced users who want to further their professional careers by specializing in new areas that are in high demand, like AI and cybersecurity.
And yet others offer full online degrees from accredited universities to boost your job prospects and employability.
How to Find the Right Course for You
Once you know the general topic that you’d like to learn about, you can explore the leading online learning platforms on the market, identify those that best fit your needs and visit their sites to scan their course catalogs.
For example, if you’re interested in learning business subjects like, digital marketing, project management or Office 365, LinkedIn Learning might be a good choice for you to consider.
If you’re into the creative arts, like photography, video production, art or music, then Creativelive is a safe bet with over 1,500 courses focused strictly on the subject.
If you’re looking for professional courses that can enhance your career prospects, you can head to Simplilearn who have aligned themselves with top-tier companies like Google and Amazon to deliver certified programs recognized by employers.
Finally, if you’re looking to expand your formal education, you can check out EdX.org, who works in partnership with top-tier universities like MIT, Harvard and Berkeley to deliver online degrees.
5 Key Benefits of Online Learning
Online learning has a lot of advantages. Here are five major ones:
Online learning adapts to your needs, not the other way around. Online courses offer a great deal of flexibility because they’re accessible from anywhere at any time.
You get to decide when to study, where to do so (at home or work), how much information to learn per session (self-pacing), and most times you don’t need to fulfill prerequisites.
You can learn at your own pace, rather than following a strict schedule.
Time can be a restricting factor for many students, especially those who work full-time or have families to care for.
With online learning there's no need to take off time during the day just for class times.
For example, it allows people who have small children at home or other responsibilities like caring for elderly parents access to classes without having to enroll in night school or spend hours commuting.
3. Lack of distractions
In an online classroom there's nothing between you and the material. Online learning offers the opportunity to have a more direct learning experience, without social or other distractions.
With no scheduling constraints (e.g. physical classes with limited time slots) or space barriers to navigate (getting places on time, finding parking, navigating public transport, etc.), you get to focus fully on learning from the comfort of your home and at the time of your choosing.
4. Lower tuition
The cost of tuition for online courses is often much lower than in-person learning. Online learning tends to cost a fraction of traditional schools due to much lower overheads and digital economies of scale.
This is a huge benefit, especially for students in parts of the world where access to quality education is much more limited.
In a way, online learning platforms have democratized access to quality education for anyone anywhere with access to an Internet connection.
Finally, you can't really beat the convenience of online classes. With online lessons, you don't need to drive or take public transportation.
Now, in the early days, it was common practice for physical schools to stigmatize students taking online classes as being “less qualified,” however, this is no longer the case.
In fact, the pandemic accelerated the transition of many forms of accredited education from offline to online to the point where right now you can obtain full online degrees or access certified courses in partnership with top-tier colleges and universities.
What to Look for in an Online Learning Platform?
If you're looking for an online learning platform, there are a few key things to look for.
First, the platform should be user-friendly and easy to navigate. The point is to learn new skills through attending online courses, not having to learn how to use the platform that hosts them!
Second, it should offer a variety of courses and activities that appeal to your interests and learning style.
Some platforms tend to be "Jacks of all trades," covering hundreds and hundreds of topics while others specialize more deeply in specific areas of interest.
Third, the platform should provide support from experts in the field. Choose a platform that provides "office hours" posted by instructors so you can get a direct line of feedback with your teacher, if needed.
Fourth, the online learning platform should offer flexible pricing options that fit your budget.
They should offer prices ranging from entry-level for beginner-type courses to more expensive ones for advanced training and industry certifications.
Fifth and final, the platform should have a strong community of users who provide feedback and support. Many offer curated community feedback and critique forums, which can be very valuable for people learning new skills.
Keep these things in mind as you search for the perfect online learning platform for your needs.
Wrapping Things Up
Online learning is a no-brainer for people who want to learn but have limited time, money or opportunity.
The flexibility of digital coursework means you can study from home at any hour without ever having to miss a day of work. Plus, the cost savings are substantial when compared with in-person courses and programs.
In essence, online learning has many advantages and can be a great option whether you want to develop a new hobby, enhance your job prospects or pursue an online degree from an accredited school.
To read an article with a list of pros and cons click here.