If you are thinking about heading back to school to earn a degree, certificate, or diploma, or if you are just interested in expanding your knowledge, you may want to consider participating in online learning. Online learning is just one of many different types of learning now available to students. Offered by many colleges and universities, online learning presents students with the opportunity to engage in a more flexible learning experience. It can also allow you to become more familiar with today’s computer technology while gaining a valuable and respected education.
What is Online Learning?
Online learning is a relatively new type of learning experience. Gradually introduced over the last ten years or so, online learning involves using the Internet to learn new information. As with distance learning, students and instructors are not located in the same physical space when enrolled in an online class. Instead, they can be miles apart and communicate with one another over an Internet connection. There are no physical classrooms when it comes to online learning; instead, the computer is your classroom. Online courses are now offered by many colleges and universities, as well as some elementary and secondary schools.
Types of Online Learning
There are three main types of online learning.
- Synchronous: Synchronous online learning happens when you are communicating with other students or instructors at the exact same time. This means that you are sending emails or messages to students while they are also online. Some online classes require that all students be online at the same time, in order to allow students to discuss information and provide instantaneous feedback to others./li>
- Asynchronous: Asynchronous online learning happens when you engage in online learning at your own pace. You can log-on to your course at any time and post messages or send emails to other students who are not online. Responses to your questions will be sent back to you later on. Most online students like asynchronous learning because it offers more flexibility.
- Blended: Blended online learning combines the best of traditional and online learning. With blended learning, you attend some classes where you will meet face-to-face with your instructor and fellow classmates. Some learning will take place in the classroom, and tests or exams may be given on campus. However, numerous assignments and lectures will also take place in an online environment, which you can access from home.
What Does Online Learning Involve?
Online learning incorporates many different aspects of the learning process. When you attend online classes on your computer, you will be able to:
- access lecture notes and materials
- see video clips and hear audio relating to your course materials
- chat online with fellow students
- send emails to your instructor
- submit assignments, tests, or exams
- keep track of your attendance and grades
What Courses are Available Through Online Learning?
There are a variety of courses and programs that you can complete through online learning. Many students pursue:
- online degrees, including undergraduate and graduate degrees
- online high school courses
- general interest courses
- continuing education courses specific to career-related goals
How Does Online Learning Work?
Most online learning courses are managed using special computer software, known as learning management systems. Learning management systems are software programs that allow students to access all aspects of their online learning course. Developed or purchased by individual schools, these learning management systems allow students to access tutorials, assignments, grades, chat rooms, and discussion forums by visiting one Internet location. When you sign up for an online course or program, you will be given the password to your school’s learning management system, allowing you to access your course materials.
Why Participate in Online Learning?
Online learning is becoming massively popular amongst students, particularly in North America. This is because online learning offers a number of benefits that traditional schools just cannot provide. Here are a few of the many benefits of online learning:
- Flexibility: Online learning allows you to attend classes in the comfort of your own home or office. You don’t have to head off to the classroom, which means less traveling time and expenses. Additionally, you choose the time you want to attend class.
- Technology: Online learning provides students with the opportunity to become more familiar with today’s computer technology. As an online learner, you will pick up a variety of new computer skills, including Internet researching and browsing.
- Self-Directed Learning: Online learning appeals to many students who wish to direct more of their own learning. Unlike traditional classroom courses, your instructor is not always there to direct how you are learning. Instead, education online provides you with the opportunity to determine how you want to learn. You can find your own texts and materials to complete assignments and you can choose how and when you complete those assignments.
Who is Suited To Online Learning?
Online education is not suitable for every student. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to get through an online course. Additionally, many students find online learning isolating, because of the lack of classroom atmosphere. Before you sign up for an online course, consider whether or not your possess the following qualities:
- time management skills
- organizational skills
- basic computer skills, including email, Internet, and word processing abilities