5 Advantages of Online Courses Compared to Traditional Education
Frankly speaking, to say that I prefer online courses for its sheer convenience factor as against traditional education would be a bit of an understatement. Why? Because, online courses are not only the preferred way to gain knowledge and new skills but best suited to today’s fast pace. Online courses’ benefits go beyond them just being available online. According to the report 2012 – Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States the number of students who took at least one online course had surpassed 6.7 million, which was an increase or 570,000 students over the previous year. This data simply goes to re-affirm the advantages of online courses compared to traditional education in terms of cost, curricula, convenience and continuity.
Well, let’s have a bit of detailed thinking. Before we go about the advantages of online learning, I feel, we would better appreciate them if we had a little backdrop on some of the reasons why students still continue to go for traditional education.
It’s been there for a long time: Quite obvious! Students have been taking up and will continue to take up traditional education for the simple reason that it has been around for ages. So, as parents we tend to do what is conventional and confirms within the set norms.
The need to be learning at a prestigious institution: More often than not, it is the need to hold a degree from a prestigious institution rather than gaining the knowledge and skills associated with the course. Despite their exorbitant costs, parents and students continue with traditional education.
Societal reasons: Sometimes, the society in which we live makes it a pre-requisite to have traditional/formal education for career opportunities. The simple assumption that traditional education is a more formal education makes it even harder for parents and students to think beyond its clutches.
Changing for Better
However, things are changing. Thanks to internet and the way it has pervaded our lives, today, education holds a broader meaning, and is promising enough as it goes beyond the confines of traditional education. The digital age has not only made sea changes to the way we do shopping, buying or interacting, it has in fact created new career opportunities and the need for new skills like social media marketing or niche skills such as coders.
Despite traditional education addressing these skill needs with various curricula, online courses seem to be the way ahead to be in sync with the changing world.
Advantage #1: Galore of Courses
From a beginners level to an intermediate and finally on to a professional level, students have a vast option of courses to pick from. Depending on their requirements and career plans, they can go for a certificate course, a degree program or even a doctorate too. The best part is you can learn what you want to learn! Assuming you would like to pursue a program in organic farming. Now, it is quite possible that a prestigious institution where you aspire to pursue may not be offering this program. Or to your disappointment, it may have limited seats only. In such a scenario, online courses come in as a blessing in disguise. You could not only pick the program of your choice but choose the institution from where you would like to pursue it too. Isn’t that amazing! Perhaps, for me, this would be the most lucrative of all the advantages of online courses compared to traditional education if I were to be pursuing a specific course.
Advantage #2: Convenience of Learning
Online courses are synonymous with the convenience of learning. When I say convenience, I’m just not referring to the convenience of place alone. It encapsulates the convenience of time, your pace of learning and assessments too. While it undoubtedly reduces your travel time to college as you could take up learning from your home, office, or at any convenient place, it makes your learning very mobile as it fits well into your lifestyle. Specifically for women, people who are physically challenged or older people with learning interests, they couldn’t have asked for more. Online learning makes it possible for them to pursue their interests despite the challenges they have. Also, if you are a professional keen on taking up a specific course for career prospects, the convenience of time that online courses give makes it a viable option as you would be able to balance both your work and study as well. Sometimes, you may also prefer to take up learning at your own pace. This may not be the case with traditional education where you are expected to finish the modules within the stipulated time. However, with online courses you have the option to finish the modules at your own pace.
Advantage #3: Cost considerations
In traditional education, the cost of education gets dearer as you move up from higher education to professional courses. While online courses help you choose the course that fits into your budget. Also, there are several online learning academia that offer free online courses as well. Students and parents have the option to pick courses within their budgets or can try the free ones too. If you were to be pursuing online courses, perhaps, the only expenses you might incur would be your laptop/ tablet, an uninterrupted internet connection and your dedication. Now, that’s what I call smart learning! Especially, for students who would like to hone their skills in a specific discipline, online courses are indeed a gift as they do not have to worry about the course fee.
Advantage #4: Support Groups
The internet by itself is the best support group. There is virtually no area for which you cannot find information on the internet. In addition, the various online forums, professional communities and chat room discussions help students in getting technical and professional information. This is indeed a boon as you know that the answer to your query is just a click away. Since there are professionals, industry experts and various other users on these forums and communities sharing their experience and expertise, students get to know industry best practices, try and tested methods and work-arounds too. Traditional education may not be able to match online courses at this scale.
Advantage #5: Quick Assessments
Learning makes sense and also becomes motivating only when you can take quick assessments and get immediate feedback for your efforts. In case of traditional learning, although you administer assessments, the feedback may not be as immediate as you would expect them to be. Online courses make learning very interesting and motivating with its quick assessments and immediate results. The various audio-visual and interactive learning interspersed with short and quick assessments help the students to gauge their understanding, re-work on their skills and plan the subsequent modules.
The advantages of online courses compared to traditional education seem to be increasing day-by-day. Couple of years ago industry experts were visualizing virtual offices and businesses which are in fact a reality today; hopefully, the coming years would witness the emergence of only one kind education – online education.
About the Author:
Clare Hardin is an expert digital marketing strategist associated with ‘The Digital Vibes’. She has years of experience in writing articles, blog posts, ebooks, and creating digital marketing strategy, running social media campaigns, helping in SEO activities for large businesses and professionals.