The evolution of the internet and related online technologies has led to a growing emphasis on online education. This form of learning is especially valuable to students who juggle family and other responsibilities and who require access to innovative forms of learning. By facilitating different forms of interactivity, the Internet became a game changer with regard to imparting education. Online courses and institutions are investing effort into building a competitive workforce in the UK by empowering students with the necessary knowledge and skills required for a successful career.
With the government confirming that they are no longer able to subsidise university and college education to the extent that they did in earlier years, the overall costs of a formal college education have escalated significantly over time. Administrative, educational, manpower and technological costs have added to the financial pressures of studying at universities and colleges. There are other problems and complexities involved. For example, if you happen to be a mother of young children or toddlers, it may not be a viable solution to have to commute daily to attend classes, take exams and so on. Moreover, with busy classrooms, competitive learning environments and course shortages, you may not always be able to study the course that you really want.
Online education is the most important revolution that has transformed the face of contemporary education. It has helped create thousands of opportunities for all those who are genuinely interested in learning something.
Let’s explore the benefits of doing online courses:
Online education provides added flexibility, but not at the cost of rigour or practice. Online courses are not easier or harder than traditional courses, they are simply delivered differently. You can plan your study around your free time instead of the other way around. For busy mothers with children, added flexibility is a crucial benefit because they are in control of their times and schedules. You can schedule your study time at nights or in the early mornings. Regardless of the time, study material will always be available online and this helps you balance your family and work commitments.
If you’ve had a sleepless night tending to your baby, you don’t have to be nervous about running bleary-eyed to class early the next morning.
Improved opportunities to concentrate:
Classroom learning environments can be a source of distraction for students. Every individual is unique and for reticent or shy people, online learning may represent the perfect opportunity to learn in their own space. Not everyone is comfortable with direct, physical classroom interaction and many prefer the improved opportunities for concentration that online courses offer. Online course students are happily exempt from distracting conversations, whispering, mobile phone beeps and relationship complexities that one invariably encounters during classroom learning. You can interact at the level that you are comfortable with.
Sitting for hours in a hard-backed chair can be extremely harsh on the back and legs, especially if you have been busy with household chores and children all day. If you opt to study online, you can study comfortably by seating yourself on a couch or a chair of your choice and even putting up your feet, if you like. While comfort is a strong advantage, perhaps it would be better not to get too comfortable either. You may wish to create an inspirational space for studying in your home consisting of a large table and chair.
When you enrol in an online course, you enjoy much more control over your study environment. You can reduce the TV volume or keep music playing softly in the background. In addition, you can control heating or air conditioning to comfortable levels. You can decide what works best for you.
Self-paced learning implies learning at your pace and this is a crucial benefit of online learning. Everyone learns differently and when you learn at your own pace, it becomes easier to attain your learning objectives. In a typical classroom environment, the group of students consists of individuals with different learning abilities. According to research, teachers typically address the middle third and learners who do not belong to this group, or who learn at a different pace are usually lost or simply bored. Fast learners have the opportunity to gain competencies at a rapid speed while slower learners are not forced to forge ahead at an uncomfortable pace. You can always go back to portions or chapters that you found challenging and you can repeat this as many times as you need to.
Moreover, self-paced learning allows you to concentrate at your convenience. Some students study best during mornings while others prefer evenings or nights when the house is quiet. As a mother, you may be faced with unpredictable schedules during the day, especially if you are caring for babies or toddlers. Self-pacing allows you to weave in the learning process around your other priorities. Your learning becomes more personal and effective because you are able to do it in the way that works best for your requirement. Most online courses offer the option of learning at your pace as well as interactive learning. This way, you need not feel stressed about forcing the pace and struggling to understand difficult portions. Moreover, you can also choose to study full-time or part-time as your time and schedule permits.
Please note that students are expected to take exams, tests and assessments and complete assignments in order to earn online certification – just as you would if you attended conventional college courses. The only difference is that you gain the opportunity to learn in a way that helps you meet the course objectives in a more effective manner. Online courses have the potential to offer a customised learning experience.
Range of courses to choose from:
The field of online education has evolved and offers a wide range of choice to students. You can earn certification in any subject you can think of, giving you the opportunity to gain knowledge in your chosen career.
Cost is a major point of difference between face-to-face education and online learning. However, it must be noted that the costs of online education are not lower due to lower quality of learning. The underlying objective of traditional and online courses is the same: Imparting learning experiences to students. On the contrary, you can save on costs because other incidental expenses are lower when you opt to do an online course. The following points illustrate why online learning is a more economic option:
- By studying from home, you do not have to pay for apartment or residence fees and meals etc on the campus.
- Commuting expenses are literally non-existent as you do not need to spend on petrol, parking fees and vehicle maintenance.
- Even the simple process of applying to different traditional colleges can prove to be expensive because students often have to pay for the prospectus and processing fees, etc. Comparing online courses is a relatively cheaper option.
- Online education usually does not involve bricks-and-mortar premises and regular tuition fees. Although the course fee will include interactive assistance from tutors, students are not obliged to pay a regular tuition fee.
With living costs rising every year, most interested students may have felt discouraged due to multiple factors including high costs of learning. E-learning has helped open many doors to the world of education and careers.
Online learning provides the opportunity to complete courses and earn accredited certifications while raising your family at the same time. You do not have to juggle impossible commute schedules and desperately hunt for babysitters while you rush to college. The customised learning experience helps ease the burden of handling multiple responsibilities at once. You are able to proactively work towards enhancing your skill set or adding to your knowledge. The comprehensive study course will help bridge any gaps in your CV or work experience and give you the necessary knowledge to embark on a new career. In addition, the decision to study indicates that you are serious and ambitious about your career. Prospective employers are more likely to perceive you as a suitable candidate.
General improvement in computer skills:
Regardless of the course that you enrol on, you can expect your computer skills to become more proficient. Online study courses typically involve undertaking assignments and tasks, completing tests, watching videos, etc that will help you improve your ability to work on a computer. Learning to navigate the Internet for information helps you acquire real time skills that open up several possibilities in your professional career choices.
Students opting for online courses often receive individual attention from the tutor or instructor, and they also have the option of receiving assistance by email. It’s common to find students reticent to ask questions or clear their doubts in a physical classroom for the fear of appearing ignorant. Learning opportunities online are enhanced because you have the freedom to ask questions in your own time. For example, you may wish to clear some doubts after you have finished studying a module. Unlike conventional study courses, you do not have to remember your doubts or make special time to speak to the tutor. This helps improve the quality of learning.
Online learning inculcates self-discipline:
Online study requires self-motivation and discipline because you are responsible for your progress and performance. As you work on your assignments and study for tests, you learn to work on schedule, prioritise your goals and minimise procrastination. These habits will invariably stand you in good stead when you go to work or start your own business. You learn the importance of self-responsibility and accountability and this helps improve maturity and diligence. As you progress and complete the course, you learn to become efficient and self-motivated.
Although online education is a popular learning modality in the UK, there are still come common misconceptions and doubts associated with it. We discuss some important myths regarding online education and explain the actual facts.
- Rigour and quality of assessment: Online learning is as rigorous and comprehensive as traditional learning courses offered by colleges. Online courses offer content, course materials, practice questions, tests, homework assignments and assessments that are designed to help the student attain his or her learning objectives. Online courses are neither easier nor more difficult than conventional courses.
- Employer acceptance and recognition: Several colleges and universities offer online as well as offline courses to students and they make no distinction between the two when conferring certificates or degrees. Similarly, employers now accept online learning and certification and respect students who have chosen to complete online study programmes. Online study courses and certificates are just as credible and authentic as traditional ones.
- Online learning is here to stay: As technological advances continue to evolve, online learning will continue to grow and thrive as the outreach improves. A growing number of courses will be offered online and students will enjoy a comprehensive range of options to choose from.
- Online courses are as effective as traditional ones: Online courses offer the same quality of learning, materials and knowledge as conventional courses. The only difference is the medium of delivery. Every course is carefully designed to suit student requirements and is updated as required. Quality control is an ongoing process. In fact, research into study patterns indicate that online courses encourage a higher rate of retention.
- Online study provides social interaction: The student can choose the level of interaction with the instructor as well as with other students. Interaction can be facilitated using several methods such as Skype, Google Hangouts and so on. You have the option of interacting at the level that you want.
- Online courses offer certifications at different levels: According to popular belief, online courses may confer certification but not full degrees. This, in fact, is a myth and you can actually work towards different levels and obtain a full-fledged degree. Many well-known universities offer fully accredited degrees to online students.
- Online study involves deadlines and dates: Yet another common misconception is that online courses tend to be lax with regard to submission of assignments, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a student, you are expected to turn in assignments or assessments in accordance with dates and deadlines. While online courses may offer flexibility with respect to time and pace, they require the same level of dedication and hard work as traditional courses.
- It’s not easier to cheat on your tests or assessments: Online students answer assessments that are protected by tools and technologies. These tools can prevent cheating on tests and assignments. The opportunities for cheating are comparable to traditional courses – it’s very similar. Online students do not have extra opportunities to cheat.
- Online assistance and guidance is offered by qualified instructors and teachers: Teachers and instructors who teach online courses are qualified and experienced and they are subject to the same process of evaluation as traditional face-to-face teachers. Online teachers often spend more time in engaging students.
- It’s not necessary to be technologically savvy in order to study online: Online courses are designed to meet the needs of students at different levels of technological advancement. If students have problems, there is usually a support number or email that you can use to obtain assistance.
Embarking on a new career as a student or returning to work after having children can be a daunting challenge. It’s important to adopt an approach that factors in responsibilities and constraints along with your career objectives. The process of returning to work or starting your own business involves building your confidence, acquiring new skills or upgrading a skill set and rediscovering your career path and personal interests. Online learning helps you develop important life skills, including self-discipline and motivation. In addition to juggling study, work and family life, you get the unique opportunity to learn at your pace in your time.
In a world where the only constant is change, online education helps with the acquisition of knowledge and development of skills. In the thriving British economy, employers are always keen to secure professional talent. If you are not interested in working for an employer, online education can also equip you with the skills required to jumpstart a freelance career. In a competitive and time-strapped work environment, online education and courses provide prospective students with important tools to add value to their current skill set. Moreover, you are able to improve your skill set without being obliged to compromise with time and space constraints.
Studying an up-to-date online course helps you understand and keep abreast of the latest developments in your chosen field of interest. Past employers and companies may now have different requirements compared to what they were before you took your sabbatical from work. In such cases, you may find that you need to enhance your skill set in order to enjoy flexible options with respect to your job. Online courses provide you with the right support system and build your confidence as you prepare to embark on an exciting and fulfilling career path. The right online learning opportunities coupled with an empowering mindset can go a long way in helping you chart success in the second career innings and realise your dreams.
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