E-learning affords students a host of potential benefits over traditional campus-only programs. Read below to learn about some of the advantages e-learning offers students.
Looking at tuition prices for online programs at traditional schools and for-profit schools, prospective students might wonder if e-learning really does have cost benefits. Online programs often cost around as much as their on-campus equivalents. However, considerable savings can be found outside of tuition:
Students don’t have to pay for public transportation or the gas it takes to get to and from campus, and they don’t have to worry about paying for parking.
Student meal plans can be pricey, and swinging by a café between classes adds up. Online students save by eating at home.
Whereas traditional students might have to change their work schedules or reduce their hours in order to go to school, online students can go to class without interfering with their jobs, allowing them to keep their income while getting their education.
E-learning students have the advantage of being able to plan their education around their lives, not the other way around. While some e-learning formats require students to be at the computer at specific times, others offer coursework that can be done at any time of day, any day of the week and from anywhere the student chooses.
Although it seems like e-learning would be an isolated experience, online students often find that they are more connected to their peers and professors than their on-campus counterparts. Message boards, peer review, and video-chat study groups facilitate communication between students and help bring them together. Professors are often available to answer questions via email, but in environments where a professor is not accessible, students rely on one another to ask and answer questions about course materials and assignments. Further, e-learning programs attract people from an array of locations and backgrounds, so students get to connect with peers they might not meet otherwise.
Because all that is needed to learn online is a computer and an Internet connection, e-learning makes education more accessible to different students.
Sometimes the main barrier between a student and his or her education is that the nearest school just isn’t near enough. Students living in rural areas might be dissuaded from attending traditional colleges because of a long commute. An e-learning program makes post-secondary education more readily available to those living outside of a city or college town. Online classes also allow remote students to engage with peers who have similar interests but with whom they might not ordinarily connect.
The technology used in E-Learning
E-learning relies on technology to give students a fulfilling educational experience. Here is a brief rundown on the types of technologies students may encounter in their e-learning programs:
Learning Management Systems
Learning management systems are common in online education programs. They often serve as a course’s home base. Some learning management systems have built-in discussion boards and virtual drop boxes. E-learning students will likely find themselves using learning management systems to access course materials, communicate with peers, or turn in assignments.
Video may be used as the basis of an e-learning program or they may be used supplementally. Synchronous online classes use live streaming video to deliver information. Pre-recorded videos can add to students’ learning experience by taking them beyond the traditional classroom realm.
Interactive Learning Environments
Some online learning programs test their students’ knowledge through interactive activities. These activities take place within the program themselves as part of the lesson, like with the in-browser coding. These interactive learning environments give students the opportunity to practice their new skills and, depending on the results, either move on to the next lesson or continue reviewing until a strong understanding of the lesson is achieved.
Mobile and Tablet E-Learning
Some e-learning programs are so flexible that students don’t even need to be confined to a computer to access lessons and other course materials. The learning management system, has a series of apps for Apple, Android, and Windows phones and tablets that let students access their course homepage, turn in assignments and contribute to class discussions away from home.
Tips for New E-Learners
Embarking on a new kind of learning experience can be daunting, but there are things students can do and remember that will help them succeed in their online education pursuits.
Test It: Try taking a single online course before committing to a full program.
Set Goals: Create and stick to deadlines for completing assignments and lessons, especially in self-paced programs.
Find Support: Reach out to teachers or classmates and find study groups that meet online or in person. Support can also be found on forums and in online communities.
Check-In: Visit the course website frequently to check for updates.Speak Up: Participating in class discussions deepens understanding and is a good way to connect with peers.