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Seven Reasons That Online Learning is the Future of Education

Kyla Ball

Of all the changes that the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic brought about or accelerated, one that is here to stay is the growth and development of online learning. In this short blog we set out the 7 main reasons that we believe that the future of education lies online.

Online learning is flexible

Online classes mean that students can study at their own pace and around their own schedule. Classes can be delivered in real-time for students who need this face-to-face aspect, and can also be recorded to be studied asynchronously. This approach particularly benefits those who may have circumstances that make it difficult to attend traditional classes. For example, students who train and compete in elite sports, or students whose parents are required to work overseas and have no high-quality first-language education provision in their local area. The curriculum could be adapted from full-time to part time, evenings only or any other pattern that suits the student. Asynchronous learning does require a greater degree of discipline and time-management from students, so it is certainly not suitable for everyone. But on the other hand, these are essential life skills which once mastered will prove invaluable for the learner in later life.

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Accessibility of online learning

Students can access online courses from anywhere with an internet connection. This means that students without access to traditional educational institutions for any reason can still pursue their education. It also provides an education via distance learning for students who may have access issues for any number of reasons including physical, behavioural or sensory processing ones, or suffer from high levels of anxiety in a traditional classroom setting. For this reason fully or partially online programs are a far more inclusive, accessible solution.

Online education is a cost-effective solution

Online learning is on the whole less expensive than traditional education. Without a physical school campus to maintain, the only real substantial outlay for any online school provision is staff costs and technology costs. In areas of the world where attending a traditional learning setting is prohibitively expensive, accessing online education via a mobile device is a cost effective alternative that widens access to those who might otherwise receive limited education provision.

Online learning can be customized and personalized

Online education allows educators to develop a customized learning experience that best suits their individual students’ needs. Additionally, students themselves can choose lessons, modules and courses that align with their own interests, skills or strengths, as well as choosing the pace at which they complete the coursework.

Online learners benefit from increased collaboration and a wider network

Online education allows students to collaborate with other online students from around the world who are also pursuing an e-learning approach. A virtual classroom could in theory contain students from across the entire globe, making connections and friendships that could last a lifetime! It provides a unique opportunity for students to learn from people with different backgrounds and perspectives to their own.

Online learning is constantly advancing

The nature of online education means that it is a fast-adaptive format that is constantly evolving and improving as technology advances. This means that online courses are using learning platforms that are ever more interactive, more engaging, and more effective.

Study: The development of VR learning

One method of learning that is becoming increasingly popular is virtual reality (VR) training. This learning method is generally delivered via a VR headset and has been proved to be remarkably effective in giving the student experience of an environment or situation that could otherwise be hazardous or high-risk, or requires them to familiarise themselves with high value equipment. It is used increasingly in medical training for this reason. We have summarized the evidence gathered in a recent study by PwC into the effectiveness of VR and AR training in the download here: Latest Developments in VR and AR Learning

Online learning is the green option

One of the most significant environmental benefits of online learning when compared to traditional education is the reduced carbon emissions that come from school transportation. When students and instructors are not commuting to and from classes, carbon emissions from cars and buses are greatly reduced.

Online learning also helps to conserve energy and water. School buildings require electricity to power lighting, heating, and cooling systems, plus a significant amount of water for grounds maintenance and cleaning.

Online learning also reduces paper usage. Despite most schools having embraced paperless learning to a greater or lesser degree, students and educators still use a significant amount of paper for assignments, notes and handouts. Online learning, on the other hand, generally eliminates entirely the need for physical copies of course materials, reducing paper waste.

Further reading: Online learning in Higher Education

In this selection of blogs we look at examples of online learning in the Higher Education space.

How to engage students in online learning

Awesome examples of interactive education online

What is a virtual lab and how to create one

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