In early 2020, the world faced an unprecedented challenge resulting in millions of people losing their lives, making everything come to a standstill. The pandemic shut down industries, and countries closed their international borders. Thankfully, many had the option to shift organizational operations and academics online. Within a few months, every sector kicked off its entire online operations. From businesses to schools, working from home became the new normal.
However, online education didn’t just shift the classrooms to computer screens. It also forced us to evaluate the fundamental ideas about the value of human connection in teaching. At the same time, it made many people wondering for how long this trend will continue. As students struggled with the new mode of instruction, teachers also had to keep up with their efforts to keep them interested in classes. But, the statistics are promising, as more than 6 million Americans are already pursuing online educational programs.
However, online learning is not a new concept. Online education options were available even before the pandemic. The figures suggest that the number of online students was already growing over the past few years. Online learning seems to be a trend that is here to stay, and there are several reasons why we think the future of learning is virtual.
- Flexibility: Unlike traditional programs, online learning is flexible. Teachers and students can set their own pace for their classes. Now, students have the opportunity to replay videos and recordings to brush up on their skills. So, it is an excellent option for professionals who have to juggle work with the school. Therefore, several mid-industry professionals, like engineers, enroll in MSEE online programs to make them more employable. Online students do not have to waste their time commuting to school and can instead utilize their time to prepare for their assignments.
- Variety: Another advantage of online education is that there are several options. Universities are offering online programs for students at various levels. Students can enroll in short courses or opt for degree programs, depending on how much time they spend. Professionals can also enroll in short-duration programs to hone their learning of the latest skills and make them more employable. According to a survey, 87 percent of online learners report career benefits from completing online courses.
- Better student-tutor interactions: Online programs allow for high-quality student-teacher interactions. Teachers can choose amongst several teaching options, from live classes to presentations. They can also encourage students to engage in online forums instead of in-class discussions. Online forums are excellent for shy students because they can share their opinions more confidently. Since most live-streaming classes have a cap on the number of viewers, each student gets adequate attention.
- Accessible: The best thing about online education is the accessibility factor. People from every corner of the world can join a virtual classroom. Not only does this create a diverse learning experience, but it also helps students expand their network. Students do not need to spend money on accommodation or transportation. They can attend classes comfortably with a reliable internet connection and a workable computer. Online classrooms are a good fit for people who are thinking about moving to another country. They can enroll in programs before they leave to improve their portfolio.
- Better learning experience: Online students can learn at their own pace. They can opt for classes they prefer and choose their schedule. Furthermore, students can revise the lectures whenever they want by replaying them. Learners can also access diverse material to choose whichever one works best. Most online classes are smaller than conventional class sizes. So, you can interact with the tutor and benefit from valuable feedback. The lack of pressure from personal schedules motivates students to do better.
- Cost-effective: Traditional courses cost more than online programs. As an online student, you will not have to spend any money on student accommodation, textbooks, or transport. The only cost you pay is your tuition fees. Furthermore, you can choose your payment in installments or opt to pay per class. However, lower costs do not mean a decrease in quality. For most universities, the instructors are the same for online and traditional programs.
- Higher retention rates: According to a study, online students retain more information than traditional students. Students can complete their assignments within time because they do not have to deal with the stresses present in brick and mortar classrooms. Therefore there are fewer factors that lead to low performance. Online students are also more likely to graduate than traditional students because of the flexibility and accessibility of their programs.
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The future of education post-Covid:
The online education industry is booming post-Covid. But there is a concern that the low user experience will discourage future learners from joining online classrooms. Online classes require access to electricity, a reliable internet connection, and a laptop. However, several low-income households do not have these luxuries. Furthermore, home distractions can make online learning frustrating. According to experts, online learning is a supplement, not a substitute for traditional classrooms.
As countries continue to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, online courses will remain the sole learning option for students. The last year was a difficult lesson for most instructors regarding the benefits and inadequacies of online classes. However, with time comes experience, and teachers are already adapting their mode of instruction to provide a high-quality learning experience. Online educators will require creative, attentive teaching as a viable alternative to the traditional learning model.