What is Online Education
Online education is a method of education in which teachers and students are separate while teaching is provided. It’s a kind of e-learning that integrates technology into learning and teaching. Online education opportunities for those who can not attend or access the traditional method of education for one reason or the other. Approximately 6.1 million college students are currently taking online courses, and this number is increasing by around 30 percent annually. (Appana, 2008). Online education provides a myriad of benefits for people, as well organizations because it allows for, among others, flexibility. This means that regardless of people’s physical locations, they can attain the same level of education by taking similar online courses. Teachers and professors optimize the focus and timelessness of the learning curriculum while students are able to fit learning time into their busy schedules (Bullen, 2007). The purpose of this paper is to examine the advantages and benefits of online education. Online education offers immense benefits to students by providing a flexible schedule, student enrichment and expanded education access and choice.
Advantages and Benefits of Online Education
Perhaps one of the most notable benefits of online education is the provision of a flexible learning schedule. The fact that more and more professionals are going back to school to further their studies is an indication of the effectiveness of online education. The number of hours left after a typical day at work is relatively insufficient to allow people to attend class the traditional way. Therefore, online education provides for flexible class schedules, which meet the needs of working students, parents and adults. For working students and parents, online education allows for course work, as well as instructions, to be customized to their specific fields and subject areas (Kumar, 2010). For instance, marketing professionals only take courses related to their vocational fields rather than an assortment of courses. This facilitates the enrichment of their work practices, resulting in benefits such as promotions. Moreover, online courses do not have fixed time schedules for lectures so working students can go about their other duties without the fear of missing lessons. The only deadlines students have are when to hand in their assignments and tests. Otherwise working students can decide when, as well as where to study and complete their regular class work.
In addition, online education allows for adjustable time schedules instead of forcing students to adjust their lives to predetermined times. Traditional classroom education involves requirements of fixed location and time. After location, the greatest impediment on learning is time for both students and instructors who must be available in line with the face-to-face traditional system of education. Therefore, by removing the restriction of predetermined time, students are allowed to take part in education at a time that suits their schedules. Additionally, since there is no commuting or traveling involved with getting to the class, students can access online courses at whichever time they have free time on their hands, for instance, during public holidays and weekends when most schools do not have classes. Furthermore, online education established more educational means than traditional education (Kumar, 2010). There is a wide array of means through which education is imparted in online education, which include technology gadgets such as computers, iPads and smart phones. Access to resources is typically through online methods, and the resources are mostly online sources such as online books and journals.
Another major benefit of online education is the guarantee of student enrichment. Online education effectively enhances student outcomes. Student outcomes serve as a measure of the quality of education. Therefore, the enhancement of student outcomes speaks to the quality of online education. Student enrichment occurs because online education is typically student centered. Through clever designs, user experiences and multimedia means, online instruction enhances students’ retention (Bullen, 2007). In addition, online education is not plagued by the detriment of learning pace constraint attributed to traditional education. Students are allowed to learn at their pace and study at their convenience. This means that no student will lag behind in terms of grasping course content since learning takes place at his or her pace to facilitate sufficient understanding of course and instruction content.
Furthermore, online education does away with the verbal expression constraint, which deters non-native learners from experiencing optimal enrichment. Through online education, students are only required to express themselves in writing instead of verbally. This also enhances student participation in class discussions. For instance, English Language Learners (ELLs) are able to participate fully in learning despite their poor verbal expression in English. Moreover, online education helps students develop skills needed for rewarding careers. Students receive grades, feedback and certification faster through online learning (Berge & Clark, 2005). By taking away the restrictions of location, online education allows expertise to travel across the globe. This enables information on different areas of specialization to reach students, thus facilitating advances in diverse professions and careers. As businesses become increasingly globally focused, employees are more and more likely to work in different continents and countries. Online education helps prepare students to excel in the modern, scattered and virtual office by facilitating communication among students from across the globe. For working students, online education makes use of technologies and resources already available to them to enhance their vocational skills (Bullen, 2007).
Additionally, online education provides superior quality learning opportunities. Course materials are accessible all the time, enabling students to read and re-read discussions, lectures and explanations. This provides students the chance to take time composing their thoughts on lectures. Online education also allows students to mix and match courses, for instance, students can take different courses at the same time from different universities renowned for offering excellent courses in different areas (Bozorgmanesh, 2011). For instance, they can take simultaneous management courses at the Harvard University and fine arts courses at the MIT. Online courses also enhance connection with professors through online chats and emails.
Online education further provides expanded educational choice and access. Students are not only expected to read and understand all the contributions made by their classmates and instructors, but are also allowed to engage actively in the areas of the contributions that are most relevant to their individual needs. In addition, since online education does not encompass the restrictions of time and location, students are able to expand their access to educational materials. In learning, instructors are also considered as part and parcel of educational materials since they possess knowledge and skills required for effective learning (Kumar, 2010). Therefore, because online education facilitates constant contact with instructors, students are able to gain access to an expanded curriculum. Online education enables schools to offer an expanded curriculum, which takes into consideration the massive learning and vocational differences in their students. For instance, schools are able to add a foreign language department or other departments with without necessarily having to employ new staff to train students on additional bodies of knowledge, as well as skills needed.
Online educators are also able to provide enhanced curriculum access to students with developmental and physical disabilities. Expanded curriculum offered through online education provides students with additional learning opportunities such as new skills, which are typically not offered in traditional brick and mortar classrooms (Bozorgmanesh, 2011). Expanded areas of the curriculum include assistive technology skills, recreation, as well as leisure skills, care education skills, social interaction skills and overall efficiency skills. The expanded curriculum offered in online education retains students who previously thought that they had to look elsewhere to gain the skills they require while also attracting new, as well as part-time students from different geographical locations.
Furthermore, online education offers access to education despite one’s income and geographical location. Online education encompasses cost-effective alternatives such as money saving options, which allow students to save money by doing away with costs such as transportation and other expenses involved in taking courses in the traditional setting. Additionally, online education enables students from low income families to access quality education since a vast majority of online courses are cheaper than courses in the traditional setting. The cost effectiveness of online education is also evident since most web-based classes do not require the use of physical textbooks, which are typically quite expensive. Online education encompassed the use of cheap reading materials such as digital publications and e-books accessed through e-libraries (Bullen, 2007).
In addition, online education does away with the restrictions of geographical location, allowing students from across the globe to take the same courses at the same time. Since education takes place in virtual classrooms, students can access class content from any geographical location provided they have access to a computer with internet connection (Berge & Clark, 2005). Additionally, online education has expanded the educational choice of students and their parents. Most schools seek opportunities to supplement courses to their curriculum and offer fresh subjects in line with the needs of the 21st century. Consequently, students and their parents have a wide array of courses from which they can select their desired courses. Online programs encompass more course alternatives than traditional learning programs, thereby providing more choices.
In conclusion, online education is rapidly expanding and growing in number, and many institutions of higher learning are incorporating it in conjunction with other forms of education. The number of students registering for online programs has also increased due to its many benefits. The potential benefits of online education include increasing educational access, providing high quality learning opportunities, improving student outcomes and skills, and expanding options for educational choice. Therefore, time, location, and quality are no longer considered limiting factors in pursuing degree courses or higher education because of online education.
Also Study: Pros and Cons of Online Classes
- Appana, S. (2008). A review of benefits and limitations of online learning in the context of the student, the instructor and the tenured faculty. International Journal on E-learning, 7(1), 5-22.
- Berge, Z. L., & Clark, T. (2005). Virtual schools: Planning for success. New York: Teachers College Press.
- Bozorgmanesh, M. (2011). Online classes and traditional classes in adult education. Nature & Science, 9(8), 81-84. Retrieved from http://libproxy.chapman.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,uid,cookie,url&db=aph&AN=82128099&site=ehost-live
- Bullen, M. (2007). Participation and critical thinking in online university distance education. The Journal of Distance Education/Revue de l’Éducation à Distance, 13 (2), 1-32.
- Kumar, D. (2010). Pros and cons of online education. North Carolina: North Carolina State University. Retrieved from http://www.ies.ncsu.edu/successes/research-and-white-papers/pros-and-cons-of-online-education