The Popularity of Online Education: 4 Facts All Students Should Know

For decades now it's been a growing trend for prospective students to consider taking the route of online schooling to prepare themselves for their desired career trajectory. Initially, more of an option offered through traditional schools, there is a continually increasing number of solely online offerings. 

As a society, we grow by the year in effective accessible means of connecting remotely. As technology continues to evolve and society finds new forms to resonate with, we can expect the ways we learn to change and grow as well. This being said just like anything there are strengths as well as challenges within any experience. We will touch on some key points to be aware of moving toward further education.

1) Flexible Options for Structuring Learning

Flexibility is a wonderful thing. Whether it’s the freedom to choose your optimal hours to work or match other scheduled obligations such as a job, online learning generally allows for greater customization. Often coursework is arranged in a way where you're accessing the lecture aspects in your own time and then guided towards exercises and interactions with fellow students to enhance and reinforce the learning. 

Some programs have defined times where the students come together for more traditionally modeled classwork led by the teacher. Other times your working with the teacher is much more as needed and takes a reaching out on the student's part. Though a good teacher will make an effort to foster connection with all of their students. Even those programs that have set classwork times tend to have a few options for when that may happen, this can be in the form of drop-in and making sure you get enough class time or picking what time is best at the enrollment stage.

2) Innovative Offerings and Hybridization

As online learning has had more years under its belt and greater advances in communication technologies, they have offered more and a greater variety to connect on the human level. We have all had the opportunity over the last couple of years to become more familiar with things like VOIP and video chat such as zoom meetings and the like. 

There can be a sense of separation still but the more engaged the individual is within the group the more immersive the experience. Schools continue to innovate, offering options such as remote classrooms where those in your local area can meet in a class space to connect and even work together on assignments. Let’s say you’re looking to study nursing. As seen with a well-known online FNP program there are credible online options that specialize in nursing, and they even have an at-campus residency aspect to their online learning. This can be utilized towards fostering a more authentic relationship with faculty and other students. It also is a great opportunity when the subject matter has a hands-on aspect that may be difficult to convey through videos and online interaction. Be sure to factor this into cost analysis if there is any traveling involved.

3) Find the Right Tree in a Sea of Options, Positive & Negative 

Beyond flexibility regarding how one accesses coursework once within a chosen program, there is a great variety of programs to choose from. This is great for finding a particularly good fit for what the prospective student wishes to pursue. It can also present its own challenges. Much like the experience of being at an exciting new restaurant and being unable to pick just one meal to try for the first time, the mass of options can be overwhelming. 

On top of that, it can feel as though everyone and their aunt offer an at-home course in the desired subject. This can be helpful in encouraging more competitive pricing on school programs and subsequently greater accessibility. It also should be noted that due diligence in confirming accreditation and industry recognition of the class provider is worth its weight in making sure academic efforts are not in vain.  

4) Need For Self Accountability and Motivating

With so much of the experience open to the individual's personal preference, the student becomes even more responsible for maintaining motivation and healthy study habits. Part of the routine of commuting to school and managing time for class attendance reinforces something of purpose is being worked at. It is helpful for the stay-at-home student to develop routines that condition towards entering the learning mindset. A common roadblock to consistent productivity in home-based studies is getting into a habit of procrastination. It's easy enough home in your comfort zone to feel as though there will be lots of time after a few more episodes binged or “just a little nap.”

We have reviewed a number of strengths and challenges inherent to the online learning experience. Through this, we are able to see that much of what we get out of the experience is based on what it is we put into it. The more we know about our own learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses, the more we will be able to set ourselves up for a successful learning experience. Regardless of what we bring to the table, it is always helpful to remain willing to ask for help as well. We may be surprised when we do at how much people are prepared to support our successful and successive growth.