Online education continues to grow in popularity and has seen increased participation from many age groups and from full-time students to working adults.
Traditional-aged college students are opting to attend classes online in greater numbers than ever before.
It’s easy to see that online learning is resonating with more and more people, but does online learning offer students an advantage? Let’s look at the benefits of online education, how to know if online learning is right for you, and some tips to ensure your next online class is a rewarding experience.
Why Take Online Courses?
One of the top advantages of online learning is the flexibility factor. Taking online courses allows students to pursue their education without requiring them to commute to campus.
This opens higher education up to those with no reliable means of transportation and those with mobility or accessibility issues. It also makes it easier to fit education into a busy schedule full of family, social, and work obligations.
Other Benefits of Online Programs
Additional benefits of online education include:
Ability to pursue their education from anywhere, including areas that have no colleges or universities. This puts education in reach for those that cannot relocate or make frequent trips to a campus.
- Students may find it easier to adapt their learning style to online courses, especially courses that utilize multimedia materials such as videos, books, and discussion boards.
- Taking online courses may be more economical in some situations. This is because online courses and required materials may cost less and students can live at home without having to relocate or pay for on-campus housing.
- Students have more degree options online than they might at their local college or university. Online courses allow students to pursue their desired field through universities that offer it without having to relocate.
- Online courses give students more control over the pace of learning instead of requiring them to quickly adapt to every professor’s presentation style. Even when courses utilize synchronous classes and have a timeline for completion, students can rewatch recordings, re-read forum discussion, and engage with materials at a pace that works best for them.
- Working adults that want to change careers or grow skills can more easily fit online education into their life. This opens up a world of professional development and career growth to a group of people that may otherwise be excluded.
How To Know if Online learning Is Right For You
It is easy to see the benefits of online education, but it might not be the right choice for everyone. If you are a self-starter that is motivated and comfortable with technology, online courses can be a great option. If you struggle with self-discipline or technology, you might find online courses more challenging.
Here are some considerations to determine if it may be right for you.
Not every learning style is well-suited for online learning. For example, those that need more structure and personal attention may find online courses difficult to navigate or grow frustrated from virtual communication.
Those that are less comfortable with technology and the online environment might find it difficult to adjust. In taking an online course you may be introduced to new tools and required to interact with materials in a way you have not done before, such as creating an introduction video.
Time management is an important skill for online learners. Not only must you set aside time to study and complete course work, you need to be able to set a pace that keeps you on track for hitting course benchmarks.
Being a successful student always requires self-discipline, but this is elevated for online learners. In an online course you don’t have to face an instructor or keep a strict class schedule.
It is also up to you to keep up with coursework, so it is easy to get off track if you aren’t disciplined.
Online Learning Success Strategies
There are many ways to set yourself up for success as an online student. One approach is to treat your online course with the same level of commitment that you would a traditional class. This can help prevent your online work from seeming optional or less important than other responsibilities.
The following strategies can help make your online learning experience more satisfying and successful.
Create a schedule
Create a schedule so that you can more easily balance your coursework and other responsibilities. Make sure that it is a reasonable schedule and stick to it.
Don’t allow yourself to put course-related work on the back burner otherwise you may quickly fall behind.
Create a study space
Having a dedicated space to study can provide you with an environment that works best for your learning style. It can also limit distractions and signal to others that you’re unavailable for conversation or other activities.
Focus on organization
Have a plan to organize your course materials, research, and assignments before your class begins. This will help you stay on top of your coursework and avoid missing deadlines. It can also prevent frustration and wasted time.
Have a technology backup plan
Technology is critical to online learning so it’s important to have a backup plan for when it fails. Consider what you will do if your internet goes out or your laptop fails so you aren’t stressed when problems happen.
Connect with your peers
Being an online student doesn’t mean you are a class of one! Use every tool at your disposal to connect and share ideas with your classmates.
This can foster a sense of community and help you build connections. You can even create study groups and help each other succeed.
Connect with your instructors
Communicate with your instructors regularly and don’t shy away from asking for help. Some online students feel as though they are expected to work in isolation and independently, but that’s not the case.
Ask questions and seek feedback to help ensure that you are meeting course expectations.
Wharton Online: Business Education That’s Accessible to the World
There are many advantages of online learning, from flexibility and convenience to the ability to continue your education without putting your career on hold. Many students find that pursuing an online education allows them to create a better balance between work, life, and future goals.
While taking classes online may present unique challenges, there are many steps you can take to successfully adapt to the online learning environment.
If you’re interested in learning more about continuing your education online, explore the opportunities available through Wharton Online.