Is online learning changing the framework of the entire educational system by arming students with further voice and choice?
This is perhaps the most relevant question one might come across while contemplating learners’ dependence on this relatively new form of learning.
5,828,826! Wonder what this number could mean?
Well, this is the startling figure of the number of students who participated in at least one online learning course, alone in the USA last year.
Now try to picture the possible scenario of the popularity of online learning globally.
Several articles regarding online learning can be easily found if you start searching the web in more details. Less is discussed on the real facts behind the increasing popularity of online learning.
Online learning, etymologically speaking, is coined to illustrate a broader idea of education, unified with modern technology, which comprehensively includes all earlier mode of tech-supported learning, ranging from distance learning, learning show to video conferencing. Since its introduction, online learning is classified as a technology-infused upgraded version of traditional learning – serving the purpose of providing active learning to the learners.
In two ways, you can single out online learning from traditional learning. First one – the ways these two modes of learning rely on to cater knowledge and the other, the knowledge that these two ways of learning are capable of imparting.
The educational framework has changed dramatically ever since learning started suffusing with technology. The open resources on Internet, big data, augmented reality, and several other e-learning trends is making learning available to all. Students are virtually experiencing a collaborative learning during their studies, with numerous inspiring students from every corner of the world. This is the magnanimity of online distance learning that benefits the online learners.
No more ‘another brick in the wall’.
Ever felt like you’re being alienated from the rest of your class?
A little less than 45 percent of adult students in the United States, as stated in a survey, are believed to be shy and classified as non-participating students.
This reminds me of my collage days when the words ‘class participation’ used to make my heart skip a beat. I never raised my hand in my college, ever, not even if I know the answer. Online learning allows students with typically reserved nature or who are comfortable with writing to express themselves rather than speaking in front of the whole class to communicate. Educators supporting online education are introducing online discussion boards in which students can virtually raise their hands even in an anonymous manner to participate in their digital classrooms. This attribute of e-learning is driving the students to engage in their studies.
Learning or knowing?
Traditional institute backs up a kind of learning that prioritizes knowing over understanding. And knowing without understanding results in depending on memorizing and eventually forgetting what you were taught (I can hear you mumbling “Are you kidding me!”).
Well, you have your reasons to be cynical. But would you mind giving an answer to a fifth grade science question?
Which one of these is not a simple machine – Pulley, Screw, Hammer and Wedge?
If you think traditional educational system is apt enough to pass on the knowledge that we require then how come 77 percent of people got this question wrong?
Admit it, we are brought up in an environment where the ecosystem of learning fails to serve its purpose. It stuffed with our head with data, not knowledge.
But today’s students are environed with a different educational ecosystem. They are ‘digital natives’. Focused, adapted, willing to learn from anything they managed to get hold of. The credit, certainly, goes to online learning.
Alternative or essential?
In this decade and the next, as the educators are conceptualizing it, online learning is going to discard its ‘alternative’ status and become an ‘essential’ part of a global educational system. Online education vouches for ‘active learning’, a learning that helps student upgrading their career.
Traditional learning, in a sense, is for improving your GPA. You read, try to memorize, take exams, forget after a couple of months and you repeat!
This, in a nutshell, is what you can get from face-to-face learning. But, ironically enough, degrees earned from traditional learning institutes are of no use because they fail to land you a job you deserve, mostly because employers across the sectors prefer applicants with hands-on experience rather than grades.
Economic growth of a nation is hinged on the quality education, and not by a long shot the GDP of a certain country will experience an upsurge if the collective GPA of students all of a sudden touches a higher level.
According to a survey carried out by OECD, the cost of tuition fees in the traditional institutes of England are climbing at a rapid pace.
And in the United States, according to National Center for Education Statistics, the cost of undergraduate tuition fees has dramatically increased by 34 percent over the last ten years.
In this scenario, online education is endorsing career-oriented learning and it costs significantly less than traditional study courses. So, evidently more and more students are opting for online leaning.
Here is the question: Is traditional learning losing its monopoly? – Yes, true to the core.
Online or traditional?
Simply, because it offers a tailored learning opportunity. A student could get a job in IT sector he desires to be in without having a technical background. All he has to do is participating in an online course on that specific domain.
A working person has an opportunity to improve its own skills without quitting the job. One can invest time and money and go back to college to obtain a degree.
A near retirement person once spent his entire youth tagging city walls with Graffiti art, now gets his chance to start his own clothing line after completing online fashion designing course.
Or if you need a much more persuasive evidence of the effect of online learning then try to zero in, on the fact that you have spent a good 10 minutes of your precious time and nearly came to the end of this article written by someone who once had no idea how to write an engaging blog post. You got it right! I just got lucky to enroll in an online course on effective academic and business writing.
I almost forgot! The answer was and will always be ‘hammer’, just wanted to let you know if you are still scratching the web for it.
Melissa Spears is an educator and an online education enthusiast and writes articles on UK distance learning courses and issues, ideas, trends and development related to education.
Did you find this useful? Feel free to bookmark or post to your timeline.