Technology has changed many things in our lives, including the way we learn. We’re now stepping into a digital era of learning, so it’s worth exploring the factors behind this change and its implications for the future.
Earning a degree used to be about attending classes, going to the library to find study resources, meeting with classmates to review class materials or work on projects, and so on. But that was before the internet and online learning came along, opening up a world of possibilities for those who want to further their studies. Nowadays, students have the opportunity to complete their education from afar, without ever having to set foot in a physical classroom or meet face to face with their teachers and colleagues.
While some deem online learning as the future of education, others believe that traditional education methods are better suited to help students gain the knowledge and skills they need. But what do statistics have to say about it? Figures reveal that in 2019, the size of the global online e-learning market was estimated at 100 billion U.S. dollars. As for the future, projections show that the market is expected to reach over 370 billion U.S. dollars by 2026, so we’re looking at a staggering growth by any standards.
This goes to show that online learning is gaining more ground by the day, regardless of how this growth is perceived by specialists or regular people. Whether you want to further your education and earn a degree, or you’re looking to get a head start on learning chemistry or any other subject, online learning can help you achieve your educational goals.
But in order to understand the benefits of online education, we have to recognize the forces that led to this huge surge in popularity, and that’s exactly what this article is going to address.
Financial matters often pose challenges for those who want to earn an education. We all know that education can be expensive, especially higher education, and the costs keep increasing every year. This means college can be out of reach for certain students since not everyone can afford to pay tuition fees to attend a traditional educational institution. Many of those who choose to take the conventional route are forced to make great financial efforts in order to pay for their studies, such as taking out student loans that they’ll probably have to work for years to repay.
Online courses play an important role in bringing educational systems one step closer to providing equal chances and access to a good education for students all across the world. That’s not to say all online learning comes cheap. But compared to traditional learning it is less expensive, considering many of the costs such as transportation, accommodation, or study materials are eliminated. Thus, more students have the possibility to further their education through online classes with a smaller investment.
Most students have to juggle multiple responsibilities, making it difficult for them to attend classes at a brick-and-mortar institution. Some have children or work part- and full-time jobs, so it can be quite tricky to manage all these tasks while also staying on top of their educational goals.
While online classes also have a schedule that students have to follow, many online learning programs give students the opportunity to adjust this schedule to their own personal needs. This enhanced flexibility allows students to focus on their studies, without neglecting their other responsibilities. It’s, therefore, less likely for online students to fall behind academically, as long as they are committed and practice self-discipline.
It’s not just young people who want to pursue higher education or further their studies. Many individuals choose to continue their education in later life, and age shouldn’t be a barrier in this respect. According to statistics, those who decide to take online classes have very specific objectives in mind, most of which are career-related: they either want to land a higher paying job, make a career switch that requires them to gain certain skills and knowledge or get a promotion in their current workplace. However, with age also come further responsibilities that can stop them from pursuing these goals.
Fortunately, online courses can provide the solution when attending traditional classes is not an option anymore. People can continue their usual routine, working full-time and attending to their families, while also studying, which ultimately leads to a better work-study-life balance.
The coronavirus pandemic has been one of the greatest health crises of our time with a devastating socio-economic impact on the entire planet. Education has been one of the most affected areas of activity, as universities and campuses were forced to close down and move their courses online for safety reasons.
Once again, this highlighted the benefits of having an alternative to conventional educational methods that can easily be disrupted in times of disaster. The large-scale adoption of online learning demonstrated that students can receive a similar level of training at distance, prompting many institutions to rethink their educational programs. Chances are online classes will remain normality even after the covid threat has disappeared.
Online learning recognition
One of the greatest barriers to online learning is represented by the lack of recognition from traditional educational institutions and employers. There’s still this belief that employees don’t take online degrees seriously and favour the traditional graduate.
While this may be partly true, we have to point out that things have started to change in recent years, with more employees being open to the idea of accepting online diplomas and degrees as being equal to those earned in traditional settings. The fact that many educational programs are now being accredited by reputable agencies in the field also contributes to the greater acceptance of online degrees.
It’s hard to imagine a future where we’re going to transition to an online learning-only environment. But it’s becoming obvious that traditional learning and virtual classes will continue to run in parallel and intertwin in the years to come.