Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years you will be well aware that online learning is massive! You can sign up for courses that cover anything from learning English online to taking a science degree or learning how to code. This range and types of courses are growing every week so what is it about online learning that is such a big deal and is this the future?
Fad or Future?
The internet is certainly a breeding ground for silly fads and new ways to do old things that never work out properly. From diets to parenting, pet care to investment schemes so is online learning just another part of this pattern? In short, no! While for some people learning online at home, on their own may seem a million miles from “real” learning this is no flash in the pan fad. Self motivated learning has been around a lot longer than the internet with the old fashioned “correspondence course” being the standard example. These were often looked down on but with the advent of video, social media groups, and conference software online learning is playing a very serious game and it is delivering for thousands if not millions of people each week.
Why Does Online Learning Work?
The reasons people like online learning can vary but there are a few major points that contribute to it’s success for both the providers and the users.
The simple ability to be able to take a lesson and learn at any time of the day is a huge plus for most people. All someone would need at home would be a pretty reasonable internet connection that has adequate speeds to allow smooth online learning; eager students can keep watch on their connections through a “check my speed” test available for all networks. Whether it’s for watching videos, reading course material, or finishing assignments, fast Internet can help make these things easier. Before this option people had to go to night classes or were simply not able to learn and hold down a job at the same time. Now anyone can get a new qualification through studying on the weekends, before work, after work during lunch breaks…whenever.
Mutli Device Learning
With most courses and certainly most video courses you can learn almost anywhere and on any device. This means people can take a lesson on the train to work, or in bed at night, they can do it on holiday by the pool or even during work hours depending on how dull their job is!? The point here is that “lessons” in the traditional sense that have a set time and location are no longer important for a lot of learning. People are embracing the total control and ability to learn on their phone in the morning, their laptop at night and their tablet on the weekend over lunch.
Most courses have either no time limit or very long ones so when life gets in the way you don’t have to panic. This level is time flex can be good but it can also be the downfall for online learning as a lack of time pressure can lead to apathy and failure to finish. This depends on the person and is not the fault of online learning.
What are the Down Sides to Online Learning?
Well, despite all the plusses there are some aspects of online learning that are not quite perfect. The biggest one has already been mentioned and that is a lack of strict framework that stops people quitting. This is really caused by a lack of commitment from the person rather than being the fault of the online learning, but it is a reality. If you are one of those people who doesn’t finish things, then an online course may not be for you. Quality can also be an issue, providers do not need to adhere to any quality guidelines for the most part so there are a lot of courses out there that may not be very good. The key here is to use big names and providers with lots of great reviews. Some common sense is needed too! If a provider is offering an in-depth Zoology course that only last 2 weeks then it is safe to assume it is going to be great. Choice is one of the biggest problems and again, this is really not the fault of online learning. There is simply so many courses out there from free YouTube lessons to full 6 month courses covering almost every conceivable subject that it can be overwhelming. The key is to decide on the subject before starting the search otherwise you will be totally overwhelmed by choice.
Sign Me Up!
There is simply no doubt online learning is here to stay and that it is perfect for a vast range of different people from different backgrounds. It is almost always less expensive than any kind of conventional learning, it is flexible, and allows people to learn across a range of platforms and devices. It is liberating millions of people from jobs they felt they would never get out of by giving them the chance to upskill and move on. It is also great for low income areas where schools may not be great but most people have internet access! If you want to learn something new get online!