Online learning is a way of knowledge acquisition usually to obtain a qualification without needing to attend classes on campus. In most cases, it is aimed at people who wish to study for a qualification but can’t afford to stop working or leave other commitments to physically attend classes.
Online programs by accredited institutions meet strict academic standards and are of equal value to traditional on-campus programmes in terms of entry requirements and workload with the only difference being the course delivery mode. These days, with advancement in different technologies that aid learning, students can earn international degrees from reputable institutions from their homes provided they have a functional computer and internet access.
Online learning can support a wide range of teaching methods including those that simulates traditional modes of teaching where a student and a tutor interact within the confines of a classroom. For instance, lectures can be delivered in virtual classrooms over the Internet that allows a student interact with tutors and fellow students. Depending on the institution and the programme, the curriculum and the virtual learning environment is designed to derive optimum learning experience for the students.
Educational contents via online learning may be delivered
via through texts and multimedia streaming platforms. When contents are delivered
by texts, educational materials are emailed to students to study. Students may
also be given access to specific textual learning resources on the
institution’s website. However, institutions ensure that seamless communication
is maintained between the student and the tutor throughout the duration of
study to facilitate learning. Examinations can also be facilitated using this
mode where the student completes the required assignment and sends it back to
the tutor for assessment. Multimedia streaming platforms use audio and video
resources which may be recorded or live to enable learning.
The current challenges facing traditional higher institutions of learning, including high tuition, budget cuts, high running cost, and crippling study debts have caused many students to search for alternative study modes. With nearly three million students currently enrolled in fully online degree programs and six million taking at least one online course as part of their degree program,
With over 10 million students around the world currently engaged with an online course as part of their degree programme or enrolled in fully online degree programmes, online education has clearly become one of the most popular higher education alternatives. The continually growing reputation of online learning has also helped fuel its expansion, as initial skepticism has faltered in the face of evidence that shows that online learning can be just as effective as face-to-face education.
Although there are still some obvious challenges faced with online learning which includes it being too Internet and technology-dependent—susceptible to network connections and browser compatibility issues, etc. Students also requires strong time management skills and self-motivation especially with the self-paced study modes and when not effectively managed leads to longer study years. However, the pros still outweigh the cons. The attractive advantages of online learning include flexibility, personalized study, cheaper tuition, convenience, self-paced study, accessibility and access to a wider range of study programmes.