The concept of going back to school has recently become trendy, with many individuals deciding to “self-educate” or learn a new skill. Millions of students are now able to access free courses via mobile devices, laptops, and tablets.
With the convenience of online learning, a globally-connected student population can now acquire skills and gain knowledge from virtually any location. This has lead to a boom in online classes offered by public colleges and universities across the world. Here’s a brief overview of what these classes entail, along with the potential upsides and downsides of pursuing an online degree.
Advantages of Online Learning
The advantages of online learning are numerous and highly-desirable. Students can learn at their own convenience, allowing them to fit the courses around their schedules or lifestyle. Additionally, online courses are often much less costly than traditional brick-and-mortar courses. A great deal of flexibility is also available with online learning, as students can access the course content from any location, via a mobile device or computer. Finally, with the click of a button, students can now take online classes from a global community of instructors, ensuring they’re getting high-quality instruction.
Disadvantages of Online Learning
While the advantages of online learning seem promising, there are some significant disadvantages that must be taken into consideration. For one, the world is a big place, and there’s a lot of information out there. Without a doubt, finding the right information can be difficult, even for experts. In the digital world we live in, the information superhighway can be found just a few clicks away, but in the real world, this can be a major problem. The access to high-quality information is increasingly moving online, as the cost of storage and computing power decreases. This makes it easier for individuals to publish and share their knowledge, which can lead to a problem of over-information.
The Boom in Online Classes
With the rising number of individuals going back to school, there’s been a boom in online classes offered by public colleges and universities around the world. In the U.S., for example, nearly all public colleges and universities now offer some sort of online course. This is a testament to the growing popularity of online learning, and the many advantages it presents.
The Growing Popularity of Online Learning
In the U.S., the number of individuals taking online classes doubled between 2011 and 2015, rising from 15 million to 30 million. This is likely due to the growing popularity of studying online, as well as the convenience and lower costs it provides. Even traditional brick-and-mortar schools are now encouraging students to go digital, with many offering online courses and programs. It is likely that this trend will continue.
Positive Impacts of Online Learning
While the advantages of online learning seem clear, there are also some very positive impacts that can be made by pursuing this learning modality. For one, individuals can now gain skills that would demand a high salary, even if they don’t plan on pursuing a career in that particular area. For example, healthcare is one of the most in-demand jobs, and many students, especially in the U.S., are now gaining valuable job skills via online courses, such as pharmacy studies.
In addition, with the rise of digital nomads, freelancers, and independent contractors, online learning provides students with a valuable skill set that can be used to find work wherever they choose. In today’s digital world, the ability to navigate the web and create digital content is a highly-desirable skill to have.
Negative Impacts of Online Learning
Just like with any other form of education, there are some significant drawbacks to pursuing online learning. For one, many students feel that the course material is not as important as the quality of the teaching. This perception stems from the impersonality that comes with online learning. With so many individuals around the world having access to the information, there is an opportunity for bad actors to pose as a professor or instructor and gain trust. In the U.S., the Better Business Bureau has warned students to be careful when choosing which online schools to attend, as there are many scammers and online predators out there who may try to trick or dupe students.
In addition to the impersonal nature of online learning, many students also complain that the course materials are outdated or incorrect. With so many individuals having access to the information, there is a risk of data overload. This, in turn, can result in information confusion, leading to decreased productivity and worse grades. In the long term, this can lead to an information technology (IT) skills gap.
IT Skills Gap
With the continued advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robots, there is a chance that one day, all the complex tasks related to running an educational institution may be automated. In the long term, this can lead to significant job losses for human teachers, as well as outdated education due to automation. If this happens, it’s possible that individuals, especially younger generations, will not have the same respect for education that we have currently seen.
The Growth of Open Education
Recently, an innovative company called Future Inc. developed a technology that allows individuals to take accredited courses and earn certificates and degrees via mobile device. This is a perfect example of how online learning is evolving, with more and more people finding value in acquiring a formal education, regardless of where they are or what device they’re using.
While Future Inc. is focusing on formal education, other companies are aiming to make online learning more accessible. For example, Future Inc. offers an online anatomy course, while Stitch Academy offers English as a Second Language (ESL) training. With the rising popularity of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), or free online learning courses, more and more individuals are gaining access to high-quality education, regardless of where they are in the world.
Access to High-Quality Education
With the continued advancements in technology and the increasing popularity of MOOCs, or massive open online courses, more and more individuals are gaining access to high-quality education. In the U.S., for example, over 80% of public schools now offer some form of online learning. This is likely due to the fact that individuals want to ensure their children have a greater chance of being successful in today’s technologically-driven world. More and more students are also taking advantage of the many free online courses available, often in partnership with universities and colleges. With the ability to work remotely via a VPN (Virtual Private Network), as well as the convenience of taking classes on your mobile device, education is becoming more relevant and accessible than ever before.
If you’re looking to further your education, whether it’s at the high school or college level, you’ve arrived at the right place. Here are some of the most in-demand jobs and the salaries that can be earned, thanks to increasing automation and online learning.