by Emma Sturgis: Online learning is increasing in popularity…
Colleges are noticing this trend, and traditional universities are making more classwork available online all the time. Many have gone so far as to offer students the opportunity to complete their degree without ever setting foot on campus or in a classroom.
Students today may finish their degrees without ever setting foot on campus or in a classroom. This is no surprise to those who have taken online classes and seen firsthand the benefits these programs provide. Here are three important advantages of online learning that a traditional classroom setting simply doesn’t provide.
In a traditional college setting, students must attend classes at specific times and locations. This can be inconvenient and even prohibitive for those who work full time or who take care of aging parents or young children. Online classes allow much more flexibility than those held at brick and mortar locations. Some online courses are completely self-paced. Others let students complete their studies whenever they wish, so long as they meet course deadlines and due dates. There are many different programs, including an online bachelors degree, that you can choose from.
Online classes let students share a virtual classroom with others from around the world, making it much more likely that they will encounter someone from another country or culture. Virtual classrooms also allow American students to attend foreign universities without relocating. Perhaps most importantly, online classrooms help eliminate prejudice and fear. Wallflowers are more likely to speak up in an online environment and students are less likely to respond to one another with bias. Because students can’t see each other, skin color, religious head wear and visible physical disabilities are taken out of the interactive equation.
Online classes up the ante when it comes to getting computer practice. Every class discussion happens online and assignments are uploaded to the instructor via a drop box. Group assignments, too, must be managed in cyberspace, teaching students about the tools used to collaborate with others around the globe. The Open Education Databasepoints out that online students learn many real world computer skills, such as “creating and sharing documents, incorporating audio/video materials into [their] assignments,[and] completing online training sessions.” In an online setting, these skills are incorporated into every class and practiced daily. Computerized courses also teach students to communicate effectively without immediate feedback from their audience. Online communication is frequent in the real world but robs us of the ability to see the facial expressions and other reactions of our listener. Without these social cues, we must develop other ways to ensure we are communicating in an acceptable way. Online classes offer students a chance to practice this skill in a safe environment.
Online courses offer other conveniences as well, such as eliminating the need to commute or pay for on-campus housing. Diversity, flexibility and computer practice, however, are three benefits that continue to help students after graduation. Though some students still prefer a traditional learning environment, many are embracing the benefits of online learning and thriving in a virtual environment. If you’re looking to expand your horizons and further your education, now is a great time to consider doing it through an online learning opportunity. You’ll be glad you did.