Since the 1990s the rise of the internet has brought everything online, including learning. Elementary schools are using the internet for more interactive learning; many middle schools require students to take a computer course. High schools have started allowing students to take courses online in order to fulfill their graduation requirements. Whiz kids might even find that they are able to dual enroll and take college courses online while earning their high school diploma
College and universities are no exception, if anything they set the precedent for the online learning movement. According to the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board’s 2011 Survey of Online Learning more than 6 million higher education students were enrolled in at least one online course during fall 2010. Approximately 31% of students were taking an online course; in the past ten years this number has tripled
Unsurprisingly the majority of these online school students were computer and information science students with online business courses following closely behind.
Students are not the only ones taking advantage of online learning. Research has also found that 67% of professors believe that technology such as podcasts, video, and blogs are important learning tools. The use of technology in schools is abundant as students begin to use tablets to take notes, eBooks instead of traditional textbooks, and communicate virtually with their peers.
There are many reasons why students choose online learning, the most common reason is convenience. Being able to take a course at home makes it much easier for many people who may not have access to transportation, are working full-time, or simply have a busy schedule to start earning their degree at an online school. Cost is another factor as transportation costs to and from campus is cut down, as is the possibility of needing to pay for childcare or losing hours at work. Many students who find themselves at a traditional college and university also take advantage of online courses which may give them the opportunity to pursue extracurricular activities or work part-time.
Is It For Everyone?
What some adults fear with online learning is that they are not “tech-savvy”. The majority of online courses use platforms such as Blackboard or Moodle to engage with their students. In some cases teachers may step it up a notch and use video conferencing to lecture. Many guides are available to teach new students how to use the software and oftentimes the professor is one of the best resources for getting to know the platform being used. You don’t have to be Bill Gates to navigate through an online learning course. Again, what attracts most students to online learning is the convenience so the “everyday person” can log-on and earn their degree rather than sit in a classroom amongst young adults
Some students who may be wary of completing certain courses online will also find that hybrid courses are another option. With hybrid courses students will find their hours are split between meeting online and on-campus
It is also important to note that just because your classes online, doesn’t necessarily mean your tests will be online. Some professors may prefer that students come to a local campus so that their exams may be proctored.
Everyone Is Doing It
For many years, for-profit colleges and universities ruled the scene. As the world turned more towards the use of computers, cell phones, and tablets many more schools began to offer online courses and full online degree programs. Schools such as Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, community colleges, and probably your local university began offering robust degree programs for the ever-changing population.
Learn for Free
With the boost of online education, many educators have realized that they can start providing education for free. Programs like Udacity, MIT open courseware, iTunes U, and many more have led the way in free online education. While the majority of these options are only courses and not substantial degree programs, they do allow prospective students to take an online course and see if it is a good option for them. It also allows anyone who is interested in learning something new to do so, without having to cough up tuition fees. Many employees and those seeking work will find that these are easy, and inexpensive, ways to learn new skills and beef up their resumes
Online learning is often times referred to as a “trend”, yet the numbers indicate that this isn’t a trend that will soon flat line. We do our shopping online, bank online, and communicate online therefore learning online is simply something that has moved out of the classroom and onto our computers.