Online learning is suddenly gaining prominence. Due to the unprecedented impact that COVID-19 is having on our world, public school systems, colleges and universities throughout the United States have quickly transitioned from on-campus attendance to virtual online learning. In the corporate world, companies that had not previously invested in online employee training programs are now ramping up efforts.
Even before the pandemic, however, enrollment in online classes had been seeing a study climb. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 6.3 million students in 2016 enrolled in at least one online college course, as compared to 5.9 million in 2015.
While the educational system as most of us know it is experiencing major disruption, online learning should not be considered an inferior, make-do measure that we need to endure until normal life resumes. Even when restrictions ease, online learning (also known as distance learning) may very well be the new predominant means of education. Here’s why that can be advantageous for students.
Online classes are hard work that pays off
As many students who are transitioning from classroom learning to online learning are finding out, online classes require the same amount of work, focus and dedication – perhaps even more so, as the built-in structure inherent in on-campus study is lacking.
Once students become accustomed to the routine of e-learning classes, online learning offers many benefits, including the following:
Online classes are flexible and convenient – Flexibility and convenience are, by far, the greatest advantages of online learning. When you opt for online learning, you can use any internet-connected device. Depending upon the institution, you may be able to take classes on your own schedule (as long as assignments are turned in on time). Also, of course, there’s no need to commute. Online learning is also a boon for busy working professionals who want to advance their career.
There is no difference in the quality of learning – Reputable educational institutions have to adhere to curriculum standards established by the institution and/or other governing bodies.
The majority of students who have experienced both types of learning – in-person and distance – report that online learning is equal to or better than campus learning. Be it instructor interaction or virtual collaboration with other students, you don’t miss out on any aspect of the educational experience.
Some students also opt for online courses to manage social anxiety or similar conditions, allowing them to focus on education in a familiar, comfortable setting, with one-on-one interaction with the instructor.
You don’t have to stop working to continue your studies – Most students pursuing a degree from a college, university or career/technical institution can continue working. Since you study on your own, you don’t need to rearrange your work schedule. You can choose your time to study, which means you can carry on with your regular work, be it a part-time or a full-time job.
Myths of online learning
Despite the advantages that online learning offers, some myths linger. Purdue University Global address the following:
Online education is easy – Online programs from reputable institutions adhere to academic standards and accreditation requirements. In addition, online learning requires excellent self-motivation and time-management skills. When you’re enrolled in an online program, you’re responsible for motivating yourself to attend school in the midst of the distractions and duties of life, such as managing a family or working. This requires discipline and a strong commitment.
The quality of the education is lower – Similar to on-campus college courses, online courses from accredited universities have to meet certain criteria, curriculum and standards. In addition, academic research suggests that there is little difference in the level of learning between online and traditional classroom experiences.
Online schools don’t accept transfer credits – Applicable to online college and university courses, a reputable online institution will evaluate your past coursework and accept credits that meet their academic standards.
Online universities are not accredited – Reputable online colleges will have either national or regional accreditation. Research the accrediting body and its standards for accreditation. For example, Purdue University Global is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Certain programs have additional programmatic approvals and accreditation, as well.
The Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) publishes an annual report that includes a list of accrediting bodies charged with evaluating colleges and universities. Such lists will allow you to learn more about the institutional accreditation for the online or on campus programs you’re considering.
You don’t interact with your instructor or other students – Students in online learning programs can get involved in student organizations and regularly communicate with fellow students and faculty via email and message boards. Online faculty may even offer office hours during which they meet with students via phone calls, video conferencing and chat or text messaging.
Manage your educational content
The challenges for schools, other educational institutions and corporations are different than for students. In order for a school or business to make its e-learning course effective, it is vital to manage your educational content properly. How you produce, distribute and manage your online content determines the efficacy of your course – and thereby the credibility and reliability of your institution or organization.
To manage your educational content, you either need to hire a content development team or make use of technology. If using online education for corporate training, your e-learning content is strategic to the success of your business. When presented in the right manner, your corporate training material can help your company ensure that all employees – wherever they are located across the country or throughout the globe – receive consistent information, as well as the means to test their comprehension and compliance.
This is where a learning content management system (LCMS) comes in. An LCMS is used to create, store and organize e-learning content. Instructional designers use this software to develop, manage and publish training content. Rather than creating course catalogs for wide audiences, LCMS platforms allow single courses to be modified for individual learners.
If you’re starting to look for an LCMS solution for your organization, eServe is an end-to-end digital content delivery platform. We protect critical intellectual property and confidential digital document management to reduce risk, reduce costs and increase revenue. As a longtime leader in content management, we provide tools that analyze, aggregate and manage content critical to your organization – and keep it secure. Our solution allows your organization to advance your intellectual property responsibly, cohesively and effectively.
From rapid authoring to content delivery, you can give your content management teams the tools they need to manage the entire learning process. With eServe, your managers, instructional designers and HR professionals can create, restructure and share content over multiple outlets and formats.
eServe allows you to do the following:
- Create collaborative content that is suitable for PDF, e-learning, mobile and instructor-led teaching.
- Import content from any other authoring tool.
- Merge audio and video files, which can be delivered through the cloud to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
- Seamlessly integrate with your existing LMS and streamline your entire learning management process.
- Analyze real-time data that helps you to know who is engaging with your content.
- Help your team develop multiple versions of the same content without redundancies.
As e-learning continues to move to the forefront of education and training, trust your program to an experienced industry leader. Contact us to learn more.