How Online Learning Has Made It Easier for Students to Learn

 

bunch of office things on a tableThere are many online courses graduates who mastered a domain solely based on e-learning and surpassed their career expectations. This requires certain autodidactic qualities, but more importantly, perseverance. However, e-learning is most often used as a complementary education instrument to traditional courses. It allows enrolled students to deepen their knowledge on the studied subjects and to understand meaningful concepts behind the topics in question.

Online Learning – Ample & Easily Adaptable

A widely accepted theory is that a student should spend at least 2 hours of learning and working for each 1-hour course. Given that most colleges require credits that generally sum up to 15 hours of classes per week, this raises the studying time to more than 30 hours weekly.

One of the challenges with traditional courses is the teacher’s duty to adapt to the overall knowledge level of the class. This unavoidably means that some students’ potential will not be fully challenged, while others might struggle with grasping certain notions and concepts. An online course, on the other hand, is easily adaptable to each student’s knowledge and pace. According to the Founder and CEO of Global Business School Network, e-learning opens up the opportunity to “change the way knowledge is imparted” [1].

Most online courses platforms focus on visual aids in order to get the message across, which means students with kinesthetic or auditory apprehension might be underprivileged in the online learning practice. Even though rarely part of a learning-dedicated platform, instructional videos and audio books can also be classified as e-learning tools.

Why Complementary?

The “Handbook on Quality and Standardisation in E-Learning” by Ulf-Daniel Ehlers and Jan Martin Pawlowski [2] features a thorough analysis of the value and functionality e-learning adds to education. The book focuses on the best e-learning practices as the sole educational means either for self-development or for business growth. However, the reality that quality management in online learning is not yet properly defined remains true for our article’s premise, too.

In other words, the effectiveness of an online course widely differs in terms of each student’s learning style, their level of knowledge and understanding of the topic, and their persistence.

While e-learning can be used to perfect oneself in a certain field with minimal to no previous knowledge, the lack of personalized feedback is one of the downsides. Many subjects require extensive clarifications and analysis not only on a student’s results but also on the mental process which led them to said result and the reasoning behind it. Therefore, in many cases a binary response from the e-learning platform regarding the correctness of their result or even an indication of what is wrong is insufficient.

Many e-learning platforms include forums where students can as for clarifications. Although the reliability of the answers is not often subject to dispute, the time spent waiting for an answer can vary.

Accreditations

The US Department of Education recognizes 9 national accreditation agencies as reliable. There are almost 100 accredited online programs in the US alone, either from solely online universities or from campus-based ones that accredited an online program. However, many employers are still wary when faced with a CV that only features online degrees, so the actual knowledge is often overlooked since many candidates do not receive an interview invitation. As time goes by this is likely to change, but the fact remains valid for the near future. This is another reason why online education is best used as a complementary learning method.

Teaching the Teachers

Surprisingly, at any given university throughout the world, among the most eager to learn are the teachers. As Einstein put it, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know”. Many teachers are interested in self-development, how to better relate to their students, or how to make their lessons more engaging and generic online classes about communication or even specific teaching ones are a convenient way to reach these objectives. Indirectly, this also helps students learn better by participating more, paying more attention, and retaining more information from classes.

The business model behind an e-learning platform is definitely complex. The extensity of the learning process and the need for standardization in order to fit a diverse pool of learners challenges the creator when balancing the two concepts, especially when revenue is critical for maintaining the platform. Good results are imperative, so strategies that fit the needs of each and every learner must be identified and implemented.

But this is why they thrive. The diversity of the courses and the amount of overall information are astonishing, the learning process is generally intuitive, and follows a specific path with well-defined steps. We live in the digital era and it would be a pity to not take advantage of these resources.

References

[1] Pfeffermann, Guy “The Importance of eLearning in Higher Education”, Global Business School Network Website, May 27, 2015

[2] Ehlers, U. D and Pawlowski, J. M. “Handbook on Quality and Standardisation in E-Learning”,  Springer Berlin Heidelberg New York, 2006

Image courtesy of Unsplash.


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