Anyone with an internet connection and a computer can now get a college degree or a specialization through online education. Online education is designed for students who want more flexibility than that offered in a “traditional” classroom. Sometimes, these students have full-time jobs or need to take care of their families, but often, an individual simply recognizes that they prefer to learn at their own pace.

According to a 2012 survey included in a research about online education’s effectiveness, more than 6.7 million students in the U.S. took at least one online course during the fall 2011 term, and approximately one-third of higher education students took at least one course online. Of those surveyed, 77% of academic leaders rated the learning outcomes of online education as the same or superior to “face-to-face” courses.

learning online

How is it that students are actually learning through Online Education? The effectiveness of these online education platforms are significantly different than that of the traditional education platforms, but is effective nonetheless. Here are some of the inherent benefits of taking an online education course.

Choices

Online education can widen your pool of choices for schools and programs to take.

Online education allows students to choose from a wide variety of schools and programs not available in their area. In fact, the area you reside in may not have the college or the program that you want to pursue. Instead of forcing yourself to travel to a farther place or to choose a major that you never really liked, you can choose to go online instead.

working on laptop

The same benefit enjoyed by distance learners of shorthand in the 18th century is still enjoyed by online learners today: Your geographic location doesn’t matter. Online learners have a wealth of options when it comes to what and where they learn.

You can even connect with leaders in your field, even if they live thousands of miles away. Perhaps you live in a rural area, far from any college. Online education can give you access to hundreds of quality, accredited programs without the need for a big move.

Flexibility

Flexibility is another perk that can easily be attained by enrolling to any kind of distance learning methods. You can easily adjust your schedule as you see fit with the rest of your daily activities. Online education offers a lot of room for students who have other commitments to work with. Whether you’re a busy stay-at-home parent or a professional that simply doesn’t have the time to take a course during school hours, you can find an online program that works around your schedule.

Synchronous online classes are those that require students and instructors to be online at the same time. Lectures, discussions, and presentations occur at a specific hour. All students must be online at that specific hour in order to participate.

On the other hand, asynchronous options allow students to learn without a set weekly schedule or online meetings at a specific time. Asynchronous classes are just the opposite. Instructors provide materials, lectures, tests, and assignments that can be accessed at any time. Students may be given a timeframe – usually a one week window – during which they need to connect at least once or twice. Overall, students are free to contribute whenever they choose.

learning on tablet

Almost all distance learning campuses allow students to mold their own class schedule and workload. You can take advantage of this to have your school directly fit to your lifestyle. Complete assignments when you have time, and take time off to deal with the obligations of life whenever you need it. This is especially practical for people who lead busy lives, especially those who choose to work while studying.

Pacing

Online education programs allow students to work at their own pace. The thing is, students do not learn at the same rate as another student; some people are fast learners while some are slower than the others. As such, the best way to learn is to be on your own pace, and this highly varies with each individual. This is why the personal choice of pacing that distance learning entails is very effective in general learning.

Students don’t mind following the pace of a traditional course with the rest of the students. However, others become frustrated as they feel bored with slow-moving instruction or feel overwhelmed with material that they don’t have time to understand. If working at your own pace is important to you, look for online programs that offer flexible start and finish dates.

Online learning allows students to ensure they completely understand the material before moving on, or speed through the material that comes easily. Since you can access materials 24 hours a day, you can take as much time as you need to read, review, and complete assignments. If you choose to have it all out in a week, you can; if you need to spread it out over a few months, it can be workable as well.

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Furthermore, independence is instilled in the students. Independent learning entails its own benefits for the student. “Independent learning is a process, a method and a philosophy of education whereby a learner acquires knowledge by his or her own efforts and develops the ability for enquiry and critical evaluation,” as Creative Education says, and it’s all about building up a stronger character for the students.

At the end of the program, since you have to complete all academic workload in your own time, your success is highly dependent on you.

Studying While Having Career Development

Online education allows professionals to continue their careers while working towards a degree. It wouldn’t be too much of a hassle since they get a lot of freedom in choosing how many units they would take and the schedule of the courses they need to attend to.

Many career-oriented adults face a similar challenge: they need to keep their current position to stay relevant in the field. However, they need to further their education to go deeper into the corporate line. Online education can help solve both concerns.

Furthermore, most online courses now can help a lot in the growth of a professional by providing courses that are highly specialized. For example, Treehouse as an online education platform is designed to teach students to learn to build websites, create iPhone and Android apps, code with Ruby on Rails and PHP. Ultimately, you can build your career or increase your professional value with these courses.

While these types of professions are of high demand right now, only a very few colleges can provide a detailed breakdown of such a profession. This is where most online education platforms specialize in, and it can be extremely helpful for many students.

Savings

Online education programs often charge less than traditional schools. This is because there are less infrastructure that you need to pay for, so the miscellaneous fees are significantly lower than most colleges. Virtual programs aren’t always cheaper, but often, they are. This is especially true if you’re a returning adult student or already have a lot of transfer credits.

Also, you can take into account the savings you can get from traveling to your school. The money you allot just for your commute to school every day can ultimately go to your savings. At the end of the school year, it could add up to something big if you are enrolled in distance learning.

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