Online education is a form of education that is electronically supported where students and teachers interact and distribute class materials through the internet. It began in the mid- 1990s with the spread of the internet
In the past 20 years, the internet has grown to host learning, shopping and even doing business making it accessible and reliable. Many schools and workplaces have resulted to using the internet as a means of learning and holding meetings.
Online courses are mostly done by people who are too busy to attend school physically or they are miles away from the schools they attend.
Most of the online courses are conducted through the online portal of universities and schools
Online distanced learning can be divided into
- Massive open online courses-unlimited number of participants, learn asynchronously at their own pace
- Synchronous massive online courses- unlimited no of participants, students participate synchronously and in real time
- Small private online courses- number of students is limited, learning takes place in asynchronous manner
- Synchronous small online courses-number of students is limited, require participants to follow lessons in real time
Traditional education where students would have to attend classes in person has been changing in the last years and in as much as there are challenges it has also proven to be quite effective. The syllabus is being revised and students are being given tests to observe how effective online education is.
With the onset of coronavirus pandemic and quarantine people all over the world have been forced to adapt to online education and even working from home.
In the long run this could prove beneficial due to the following reasons:
- Cost effective
Online education saves students and schools a lot of money as compared to traditional education.
This includes commuting fare, class materials, hostel fee and living expenses. Students are able to afford the tuition which they can pay in installments.
The schools can also channel their funds into school projects, global learning expedition and research-based training.
Some schools also offer fee packages for students who cannot pay all the school fees which is great for saving money as compared to the fees required to do traditional courses.
- Flexible and comfortable
Teachers and students are able to set the syllabus and attend classes at a comfortable pace and on a flexible schedule that fits everybody’s agenda.
As they both have different responsibilities, teachers and students are able to practice time management as they balance between their work and school.
Online education is also flexible for each student’s individual requirements and level of ability as online classes are smaller in size as comparable to conventional classes. People who need more time to grasp a content can do it as well as consult their lecturers online on matters they do not understand.
This is suitable for stay at home mothers, working students and lecturers who teach in more than one school.
Online classes are also comfortable compared to going to school every day, dressing up for school, paying bus fare to school, changing classes every 2 hours, listening to the lecturers talk while seated on a hard chair and getting off school late in the evening .
- Ample study programs
Many universities and schools around the world are now offering online courses for their disciplines that range from 3 months-3 years.
They teach courses such as coding, art, music, health courses and computer courses etc. Students have varying interests and curiosities in various fields they would like to pursue and these programs help them expand on their knowledge.
This enables them to get a certificate, diploma or degree without physically attending the university that may be situated across the world.
Applying for online courses is easy as an interested student just needs to search on google the courses they would like to study, find the suitable universities for them anywhere in the world, apply and start studying.
With an electronic device, network connection and time students can access their classes from anywhere in the world.
This is helpful because it does not confine one to a certain place. It is also beneficial when one wants to pursue a degree offered in a university in another continent and they can’t afford to leave home and travel across the world.
The teachers are also able to provide the classes from where they are without getting inconvenienced.
- Diversity in learning
Different books, video clips and study materials are found online which enables the students to get exposed to more information that they can use in their revision.
Tutors can also integrate other formats like forums or discussions to improve their lessons.
Online classes have students from various backgrounds in terms of nationalities and ethnicity which is important as they are able to share their life experiences and they also learn how to work with people from different walks of life.
Despite these benefits, there are a few challenges such as:
- People living in Marginalized areas may not have 24/7 access to network connection and computers
- Many teachers and lecturers are not familiar with making multimedia presentations as they are used to using blackboards and textbooks
- Attention span from students may minimize as there are many distractions online from social media
- Lack of motivation as students feel like they do not belong to a certain peer group therefore they do not have the motivation to excel or compete with their classmates for better grades.
The transition from traditional classrooms to online learning has been consistent and smooth over the past years. At the workplace, activities are becoming greatly digitalized. While this alternative to traditional education is not for everyone, it’s still a convenient option with virtually endless options for international students all over the world.