In 2006, more than 3.2 million U.S. college and university students enrolled in at least one online course, an increase of 850,000 from the year before. For the last several years, enrollment in distance learning education has been increasing at a phenomenal rate each year, and there appears to be no let up in sight. With interest in distance learning education at an all-time high, one might wonder just what all the fuss is about. Are there any significant benefits of online courses and if so, what are they? To answer that question, here is a short list of benefits that are attractive to students seeking an e-learning solution for their educational goals.
– Many online schools offer year-round enrollment. There’s no need to wait until the fall or spring semester, online students can begin class throughout the year.
– Online courses often feature condensed curricular modules that accelerate the learning process by removing extraneous material and focusing on core content.
– Online courses are convenient. Students can attend classes from practically anywhere, and at any time, 24/7, as long as there is an available computer and access to the internet. This flexibility allows students to continue their current lifestyle with minimal disruption, if any. Students can work full or part time, spend time with family and friends, participate in regular daily activities, and still be able to study at a convenient time and location that fits right into their schedule.
– Students can study at their own pace. Online courses don’t usually have “scheduled” meetings, so students can work on assignments according to their own schedule and learning method. However, it’s important that students remember that assignments and exams are regularly scheduled events. All due dates for course assignments must be adhered to, just as in traditional college classes.
– For many students, there is reduced expense, as e-learning courses can be less expensive overall than traditional campus-based courses. While the online class, textbooks, and other material may actually cost as much as in a traditional classroom, the savings come from a significant reduction of expenses in other areas. Students can save on such things as travel or automobile expense, on-campus housing costs, child-care, and loss of earnings if the student can’t work or works less while attending school.
– E-learning programs provide equal learning environment for students, regardless of physical appearance, age, health, gender, personality traits, religious, social or economic status. Students that might otherwise feel intimidated or overwhelmed by more talkative students are on the same footing in an online classroom. With more time to formulate a response to the instructor’s lectures and questions, even the most word-shy student has an equal chance to be heard in the threaded classroom discussions. Furthermore, there is improved communication with classmates and the instructors through instant messaging, email, chat rooms, threaded discussions, phone or fax. The lines of communication are wide open in the online classroom.
– Accredited online programs qualify for financial aid. Eligible students may qualify for grants, scholarships, and student loans, just as traditional campus-based college students would.
Arguably, there are some compelling reasons for students considering online distance learning courses. If you are looking to continue your own education but you just don’t see how you can do it with a traditional program, online courses may very well provide the right e-learning solution for you.