Is Online Learning the Future of Education?
Online learning is undergoing a revolution. High-speed internet connections have made it possible to log into a PC or laptop and start learning any time you choose. Instead of getting stuck in rush-hour traffic as you hurry to your evening class, you can fire up your computer and get working immediately, from the comfort of home.
As mobile technology advances, the opportunities for online learning will become even greater, and students will be able to instantly access educational content from wherever they happen to be.
Until recently, online learning has largely consisted of traditional course material adapted for the internet. But innovations in technology are allowing more interactive lessons to be developed. Online learning is fast evolving from simply reading modules and completing online examinations to a fully functioning virtual classroom, with live tutors and peer-to-peer discussions.
Many elite universities are also getting in on the act and providing free online classes for adults who wish to continue their learning. At the moment, most of the courses offered do not count towards accredited qualifications.
This is likely to change in the future. Increasing numbers of learning establishments will have to offer accredited online degrees to meet the changing needs of students. Not all students are in a position to take three years out and many could be learning online at the same time as starting a job. With more mature students and people wanting to complete fast-track degrees to fit in with their career, online learning will become increasingly common.
One study showed that online learning environments improve students’ performance and produce a better outcome than traditional learning environments.
There are limitations with online learning. Obviously, a subject with a large practical element is going to be difficult to study. Practical science, for example, where you are required to set up experiments in a lab, isn’t going to be possible online.
For a business professional or someone looking for their first job opportunity, online learning in a related subject could help to further develop a career or even start a new one. There are numerous courses available for anyone interested in Microsoft e-learning, for example. Cisco offers IT certifications and industry-recognised qualifications.
Studying for a recognised qualification could help to transform your life as you develop skills and experiences, while learning new technologies and it will look good on your CV.
Most people these days have basic computer skills and access to a broadband connection. An online course could help to open up a whole new world. You can learn a skill to develop your career or do something for fun. If you’ve ever wanted to learn a foreign language or try your hand at creative writing, there will be an online course you can take.
It is doubtful that online learning will ever completely replace face-to-face learning. In schools, for example, education is likely to consist of a mix of both. In developing countries, however, where there are fewer resources, it could be that online learning will revolutionise education, making it accessible to all.