Online education and online learning has many benefits including flexibility and convenience. Online education also costs less, offers students a wider variety of course options, and helps them develop important technical skills. Explore the benefits and drawbacks of online education from an instructor and student perspective.
- [Voiceover] Online education has become very popular at the secondary and post-secondary levels as well as for professional development. This because it provides some important advantages. One of the main benefits is the convenience and flexibility that it provides. Learners can participate in an online course from home, work, the library, or anywhere they can access the Internet. They're not required to be at a specific place in order to participate. Online courses are also very flexible as they allow students to access and complete the materials when its convenient for them.
This has revolutionized the way that people can access education because for most online courses you don't have to be present at a specific time. If you're someone who works during the day, that's fine, as you can access the course at a different time. If you're sick, you can still access all the content and activities, something that's difficult to overcome if you miss a face-to-face class. If you're on vacation, you can still access the course online and participate from wherever you are. Another benefit is the increased course options that learners have.
Not that long ago, learners were restricted to taking courses that were offered in close proximity to where they live. Now through online learning, you can take a course being offered by someone thousands of miles away. This gives the learner more autonomy to choose a program of choice or to take a course that's only offered at a distant location. Another potential benefit is increased interactions. Now, this one sounds counterintuitive as it seems there would be more interaction in a face-to-face course but if fostered properly, there will likely be more student-to-instructor and student-to-student interactions online.
The online environment works really well for this. And most people will feel empowered to ask questions, offer opinions, and contribute especially introverted students and those who need more time to think before they respond. Online education also helps students develop technical skills that they likely wouldn't have developed in a face-to-face class. The need to use technology for a number of reasons: uploading and downloading files, accessing web resources, troubleshooting technical issues, and more, will help students become more comfortable with technology.
This is something that's growing increasingly important in the digital age and these are skills that the students will likely need in their futures. There are normally lower costs associated with online courses. On one hand, it's often cheaper to host online courses as they don't require the facilities, electricity, paper, desks, and other costs. For this reason and because students have the ability to shop around more, online courses and credits are often lower in cost for them as well. Another benefit is that students can avoid commuting, which is not only convenient but safer and cheaper.
These along with other benefits make online learning a great option for many students. There are some negatives, however, including the lack of face-to-face communication, which is another skill that most students will need to develop. There's a much higher need for self-discipline and self-direction, both by the student and instructor. Most instructors feel that teaching an online course is more work, especially when you're teaching a course for the first time. Another potential negative is the quality of instruction. But this one isn't always true.
Poor instruction is poor instruction, whether it's online or face-to-face. Online instruction is such a new concept that many online instructors who may have been excellent in the traditional environment, have struggled to transition to online teaching. For this reason, the perception of online education has been that, it's of lower quality. As we continue to learn more about online education, however, and as instructors continue to become more educated in the best practices for online instruction, online education can provide an equal, or even higher quality educational opportunity in many situations.
Staff author Oliver Schinkten draws the connections between high-quality instruction and online education. He provides a framework for creating a digital classroom—with or without a learning management system—and guidance to get students interacting with the course material, the instructor, and each other. Collaboration is the key to making the learning experience more dynamic. Oliver also shows how to incorporate digital resources and the latest ed tech into your classroom, and make sure the lessons are accessible to students of all ability levels.
- What is online education?
- Why does online education succeed?
- Understanding learning management systems
- Incorporating technology in the classroom
- Setting guidelines and expectations about online courses
- Writing learning outcomes and learning objectives
- Sharing and curating files and resources
- Tracking student progress
- Engaging students
- Fostering communication
- Providing feedback
- Making learning accessible to students with disabilities