What Are the Benefits of Online Learning?
- Access and Opportunity: Online learners have new opportunities to enroll in courses that may not be available where they live and which allow them to manage work and family commitments.
- Flexibility: Online learners can access course materials anytime and anywhere.
- Economical: Online learners can save time and money by avoiding difficult commutes, which will allow them to spend more time learning and less time traveling.
- Self-directed Learning: Online education focuses on a learner-centered paradigm which can promote and enhance self-directed and self-oriented learning. This helps students develop a goal-oriented mindset and self-paced learning style which can benefit a learner’s career and personal life in the long run.
- Quality Education: The quality of online courses is just as good as that of traditional classes according to a recent report from the SLOAN-C (2013).
Who Are Online Learners?
A 2013 Survey of Online Learning revealed that the number of students taking at least one online course was more than seven million. A 2013 survey revealed a 6.1 % growth rate representing over 411,000 additional students taking at least one online course (7.1 million higher education students are taking at least one online course).
For a comprehensive view of the survey, download here Grade Change: Online Education in the United States
Common Characteristics of Online Learners
- Drive to Achieve: Many online learners decide to pursue further education based upon their personal motivation to advance professionally.
- Balance Multiple Commitments: Many online learners are non-traditional students (Myers-Wylie, Mangieri, & Hardy, 2009). This includes people with full or part-time jobs, married or single parents, retirees or the unemployed looking for a new career or professional development.
- Awareness of Learning Styles and Preferences: Like all learners, online learners have different learning styles, such as auditory, visual, or kinesthetic (Myers-Wylie et al., 2009). They may have different technology preferences as well. For instance, while some people prefer to read books and articles on a computer screen, some still prefer to read printed material. Some students may benefit from using tools that support these preferences.
- Diverse Backgrounds: There are no geographical or time limitations for taking online courses. The cohort of online students is very diverse in age, ethnicity, profession, and language. This may include international students and students with disabilities. Successful online learners embrace this and enjoy being a part of a diverse learning community.
- Enjoy Learning Opportunities Relevant to Their Lives and Work: Online learners want to make sure that learning is meaningful to their personal and professional life (Myers-Wylie et al., 2009). Case studies, problem solving activities, simulations and other approaches that offer opportunities for students to connect learning to their own lives and work are most rewarding.