Benefits & Trends
The online course format provides students optional ways to complete their program online. Online courses and programs reach students disadvantaged by time constraints, distance or physical disability. In addition to the access and convenience of educational opportunities, students will be exposed to different learning environments and instruction that promote intellectual discovery and practical application to virtual settings.
Other benefits for students include:
- Develops and enhances technological expertise
- Increases critical and conceptual thinking
- Develops a “deep approach”, more selective and focused, to learning
- Expands uses of resources outside of textbook and library
- Provides immediate information that is a “click" away
- Motivates and empowers students to move beyond the course site
- Promotes interaction with instructor and other students
- Promotes and encourages recursive learning
- Links the student to practical applications of theory
According to a recent study conducted by the Sloan Consortium the rate of students pursuing online education far exceeds the growth rate of overall higher education. In fact, almost 3.5 million students are now studying online. Similarly, a recent poll of 250,000 students from 523 universities conducted by the National Survey of Student Engagement, indicated that students pursuing education online reported higher levels of academic challenge than on-campus counterparts, were more satisfied overall with their educational experience, and reported greater developmental gains.
Online Education Accepted as Quality Learning Method
- 60% of employers polled believe that online education is as good or better than campus-based programs
- 62% of academic leaders believe that online education quality is equal to or superior to face-to-face instruction.
Is It for You?
Even with all the benefits of learning online, you may still wonder if online education is right for you. Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself:
Can you manage time effectively?
Managing a rigorous online course while juggling work and family life can be a challenge for many students. Online education offers the flexibility to complete much of the course work according to your own schedule. You might choose to read a chapter during a lunch break or take a quiz after the kids are in bed. Whatever schedule you choose, there are still deadlines and timelines associated with online education. The ability to manage time is vitally important to meet the demands of online education.
Are you comfortable communicating in writing?
Much of correspondence between faculty and students is written. Students should feel comfortable expressing ideas through email or discussion boards. If you are more at ease posing or answering questions in a face-to-face setting, online education may be a challenge.
Are you comfortable with having less personal rapport and communication with the instructor and other students?
Do you prefer to take time to respond thoughtfully to issues?
Learning online allows students the time to reflect on new material. Some find this to be an advantage over interaction in a classroom-based setting where it happens real-time.
Are you open to using new technology?
Although most online education courses employ commonplace technology such as email and discussion boards, some explore the educational value of new technologies such as pod casting. Fear of technology should not be a deterrent as there is ample support for those who need it. However, if you enjoy cutting edge technology, online education might be right for you.