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Does online education work?

Nov 15, 2012,

VIRTUAL LEARNING

Enrolling for an online programme has its pros and cons. Krishna Kumar  talks of the pros

Online education has been in existence in some form or the other, for sometime now. But does it really work? Let me share some of my personal experiences about how it is perceived by both the learning community as well by the learners themselves. While I was pitching online learning to the learning head of a top American Bank with a significant presence in India, this is what he had to say, “I would rather put up my people in a room, lock them up with an instructor for four days and expect them to complete the course. I cannot expect them to sit in front of a computer and learn; it is not effective.”

In another instance, a senior manager, responsible for executive education in a top Indian MBA institute stated, “If online learning really works, why are we in existence? It doesn’t work. Let’s not talk about it.”


Apart from the two above given instances, let me share what happens when online training is enforced in corporate establishments. Employees log in for the training, go out for tea, and complete the formalities of completing the required hours of log in.

Given the above instances, is there a reason to believe that online training really works? Yes, there is. What I shared was only one side of the story and there lies an unsung part of the story too. Google, reports more than 1,020,000,000 number of search results for online learning, which is self-explanatory, proving the fact that online education is definitely popular.

Although there are some who say that online learning is not as good and effective as learning in a traditional classroom setting, it can actually be a better option for some.
Depending on the learning style, pace, self-discipline and motivation of an individual, getting an online education could easily offer a learning experience more effective than attending classes at a brick-and-mortar educational institution.

So for whom, why and how does online training work:

Learn from the comfort of your own home

- One of the greatest things about online learning is that you can learn from anywhere — even from the comfort of your own home. This will save you countless hours of transit that you would otherwise spend going to and from school. Instead of enduring a boring — and often stressful — rush to get to class at an early hour each morning, you can actually be learning in a comfortable virtual environment within the confines of your own home.

Avoid schedule conflicts

Online learning is extremely flexible, allowing students to learn when they want. This is great for students who have a full time job or have children and may not be able to attend classes any other way. You will get much more one-on-one instructions in the distance learning course because you can always contact your instructor by email or video conference.

Focused learning

- One of the pedagogical features of online learning is that it provides the learner with a great deal of autonomy. Thereby, giving the learner liberty to accommodate multiple learning styles and mediums, which suit him/her best.You can connect via email, chat rooms or video conferencing, and can skip material you already know and focus on topics you would like to learn.

Learn at your own pace

- It is possible for students to learn at their own pace — this means that some students will graduate from a two-year programme in three or even four years, whereas other students will graduate in a single year, or even six months. This means you can be working much faster than you originally thought.

Less expensive

- If you look around the Internet you will find classes that are very inexpensive compared to regular college or university programmes. Be sure to research the programme carefully before you enrol. Interesting tools and study material such as video lectures, taped lectures, and such, may be mailed to you. At the end of their course, when students finally receive their degrees, most of them are laden with student loans. Don’t let student loans get the better of you — get an online education instead, and save vast amounts of money.

Keeping the above mentioned points in mind, online courses offer people, more than ever, the ability to get a post-secondary education. Because it is a self-directed programme, it may not be suited for people who aren’t highly motivated and organised.
Of course, no matter what course you choose, you should make sure that it is accredited, or even better, internationally recognised. Getting education online, offers more than you might have ever thought possible.

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