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Why Has Online Study Become Such a Popular Option for US Learners?


In recent years, the popularity of online learning has increased hugely, making it a go-to choice for many people who would have previously attended a brick-and-mortar college. There are several reasons for this shift, but primarily it offers genuine opportunities for people who have limited access to academic facilities. Additionally, this more flexible model of learning gives educators more scope when it comes to developing courses.

COVID-19 caused a shift in how things are done with remote working becoming the norm for many. This meant people began to look at digital learning as a viable way of gaining the skills and qualifications they need to move on in their careers. Looking for courses is as simple as performing a Google search, and there are thousands to choose from on endless topics. Better still, once a course is chosen, students can decide when to do the work and fit their studies in around any other commitments. As well as being accessible, it’s extremely convenient and provides graduates with valuable qualifications. So, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of online learning.

Learners and educators have flexibility

Remote learning allows the student and the teacher to set a schedule that fits in with the rest of their life. Teachers can add media and content to the course when it suits them, and students can access the material whenever it’s convenient. As a result, both can balance their family and social lives with their work and study responsibilities. For people who work during the day, it’s just not practical to study from 9-5, especially when children are around. The best time to read, research, and truly engage with a lecture might be in the evening instead. Online learning still requires dedication, but people don’t have to give up doing other things that they love or have committed to.

Online Study

The total costs are low

In the early stages of choosing an online course, it can be easy to overlook the value of the money they offer. Online learners will still have to pay for their tuition in the same way as they would on campus, but there are no additional housing or meal costs. Moreover, as they are at home and can simply switch on the laptop when they plan to study, the cost of a daily commute is also saved. Other savings are possible on textbooks and photocopying, as in many cases the relevant material will be available in a digital format which students can access from their PC or phone.

Remote learning is incredibly efficient

Today, people expect instant access to the information they need, with Wikipedia, news pages, and many other websites to choose from. For some, the idea of waiting a week for the next lesson or receiving the learning materials they need is frustrating. Remote learning speeds everything up because the information can be provided instantly. This gives people the chance to learn at a pace they feel comfortable with. The slowest person in the class need not compare themselves to faster students, but at the same time, students can work through the material faster if they choose to. In addition, no time is wasted on topics or classroom conversations that might feel irrelevant to some learners. Instead, people can ask a question directly to the teacher and receive a personal answer or ask a question in the forum and initiate a discussion between like-minded people. Finally, when the class ends, it’s a case of simply clicking away from the room. That means winding up a session can take just a few moments, compared to leaving a packed classroom.

The selection of programs is vast

There are so many online courses that it can be difficult to know where to start. This gives people a huge amount of choices compared to what they might find at a community college or even a city university. Without being limited by what’s on offer locally, people can choose from lessons in quantum physics, geology, or English literature, at any academic level. Students can learn for fun, revisit a subject they enjoyed at school, or simply out of curiosity. For others, the point of remote learning is furthering their career, as there are plenty of short or long courses that allow people to specialize in their skills. In fact, if a person is motivated, it’s possible to work up from having no qualifications to graduating with a doctorate degree through online study.

E-learning is more accessible

Students across the US can attend an online class from wherever they are. They can obtain an education at some of the country’s most prestigious universities and qualify for the career of their dreams, without having to leave home. By the same token, online colleges and schools can reach out to an extensive network of learners, so they are not restricted by their geographical position. This gives facilities the chance to expand their output massively, without having to invest in new buildings, so the financial outlay is minimal. Furthermore, once a lecture has been recorded, the university can archive it and have it ready to share in the future. In doing so, they create a whole library of virtual learning experiences to share with the community.

Learning experiences can be customized

In today’s online educational system, students no longer need to put up with the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to learning. This type of standardized course with a rigid structure does not meet the expectations and needs of modern students with busy lives. Instead, technology has opened up the world of education and allowed it to become a far more personalized experience. Allowing people to choose when and where they study, and for how long, makes the process more learner-centric. In turn, people can find courses that support promotions or allow them to switch career paths, without having to study for years. Nursing is a career to which many are attracted, but the time it takes to qualify can be off-putting. However, online programs such as the accelerated MENP at Elmhurst University make it possible for graduates in any field to earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree in just 20 months. Blending clinical experience with rigorous academic study, this dynamic course readies students for leadership roles across the profession.

Students can absorb more information

Courses that are delivered in the traditional way tend to involve a lecture, a seminar, and a handout of notes. However, this technique does not appeal to every learner, as we all learn in different ways. Some people will react better when they are presented with alternative multimedia content, such as videos, how-to guides, graphs, and audio recordings. By making many types of learning material available, online programs can keep participants engaged for longer periods of time. Students who have more control over the resources they use can select those that appeal to their learning style. As a result, they are more likely to learn effectively and retain larger amounts of information.

An equal opportunities study option

Everyone should feel they have an equal opportunity for success when entering the classroom, but some people are naturally more confident than others in a public space. This and other factors, such as a person’s clothing, their disability, or their age can make them feel out of place or tense in a lecture hall. However, in an online environment, the attention of the entire group is focused on the topic, as well as their work and the discussions being had. Instead of noticing another student’s appearance, people will tune into the way they respond in a forum, their views on the material, and their support of others.

Students can inspire each other

During a discussion that takes place online, students can react to the official course material and the responses of other students. This may lead to smaller groups breaking off from the main chat and having learning conversations of their own. In this way, students can be inspired by each other’s ideas and select snippets of the discussion that they find relevant to enrich their work. As the course progresses, students gain the confidence to make their own contributions during debates while also learning more from the unique views of their peers.

Students invest less time in an online course

The nature of online learning means the course is available the instant a student is ready to study. Although some courses have regular intake dates, many allow people to sign up immediately and gain access to the learning materials required. For this reason alone, remote learning can save people time. However, students also do not have to travel to and from classes, wait for other students to arrive, or stay late if someone wants to ask questions. Furthermore, whatever spare time they do have does not have to be devoted exclusively to study. In a physical college or school, lessons tend to take up an entire morning or afternoon at least. However, instead of studying over long periods of time, online learners can set aside a few hours here and there to get things done.

Future employers will appreciate digital fluency

Having a resume that includes a period of online study can make a candidate stand out for all the right reasons. More and more employers are concerned with how well a potential team member can cope with using technology in the workplace, and they are willing to pay more for those who can. According to a 2021 report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, ‘digital skills are critical to higher wages. Successfully completing an online course shows that a person has the discipline and is highly motivated, two traits that are appreciated by recruiters. An online certification also reveals that a person can manage their time well and has organizational skills.

Assessments are less stressful

Some online courses offer exam-based assessments, but there are many which do not. For the majority of online colleges, assessment is considered to be an ongoing process and that approach is less stressful for most people. Students make use of the available learning materials, listen to lectures and consume multimedia content. To spot areas of weakness, they also take short tests based on their work at regular intervals. This encourages students to take notes effectively and make efforts to retain the content they are given. It also allows tutors to monitor their progress and step in to provide more support where needed.

The learning environment is comfortable 

Online learners can study on their daily commute, pick up a textbook during their lunch hour or listen to a lecture in bed if that’s what they prefer. The ability to study in a place where they feel comfortable is a given for online learners. While some may spend time in their local library, others might feel happier setting up a study area at home. After working, they can take a break with a hot drink and a snack, without having to order at a café. It’s also easier to concentrate because home learners have more control over their environment. They can choose and adjust the temperature, lighting, and background music as they please.

E-learning is an eco-friendly choice  

As it reduces the emissions created by car, bus, and train travel, online learning benefits the environment. The impact on local ecosystems is also minimized because there is no physical building to maintain. That means no heating, no air conditioning, and no lighting to consume energy. Indeed, according to a study by the National Wildlife Federation, the average online course created a significantly smaller CO2 footprint, compared to that of traditional courses.

Offering a wealth of convenience and flexibility, online learning makes further education a realistic option for many people. Courses are designed to meet the needs of each individual learner, they are accessible and offer the type of valuable skills that employers look for. It takes a degree of self-motivation, but remote learning gives more people than ever a chance to alter their career path or prepare themselves for a more senior position.