According to the OEDb (open education database), there are 10 advantages to taking online classes. As an entrepreneur I could probably argue that there are more, but let’s start with 10 for now. Here is a list of the 10 advantages to taking an online class.
1. Variety of programs and courses:
Almost every college offers a variety of online courses for varying degrees. From career certificate programs, to doctoral programs, and everything in between. Higher education today offers more options to students than ever before.
2. Lower total costs:
In some cases, online programs can prove to be a more affordable option. Although tuition expenses may not always be lower, the other expenses associated with higher education might be. For instance, there are no commuting costs, and very often instructors might offer online text or learning materials so that students do not have to purchase textbooks.
3. More comfortable learning environment:
Have you ever seen images of students in an online class while in their pajamas? Well that’s often a highlight of learning online. As, someone who has taken online classes, I much prefer to take a 3-hour course from the comfort of my own couch rather than a hard, uncomfortable chair in a classroom. It’s also more comfortable when I can take a needed bathroom break, get up to stretch my legs, or even grab something to eat, whereas in a classroom environment, that may not be possible. The best part about it is that after a long day, and a long class, there’s not much of a commute from the couch to the bed.
4. Convenience and flexibility:
Most higher education students are juggling a work/life balance in addition to their academic responsibilities. The appeal of online learning for some is the fact that they have the flexibility to learn on their own time. For many online learners, earning a degree would not be possible if they did not have the option of online education. Most online learners appreciate the fact that they can log on after they put the kids to bed, or on weekends, or on the commute home. For many, flexibility is key.
5. More interaction and greater ability to concentrate:
While many might argue that online learning does not provide enough opportunity for student interaction, online learning actually invites in a variety of collaborative social opportunities. From my own personal experience, I’ve had more meaningful interaction through my online learning experience than I ever did in face to face classroom settings. I knew all of my classmates by name, we talked on several occasions, and provided support to one another when it was needed. Online learning provides a community atmosphere that adds a key social element into the learning experience.
6. Career advancement:
Online courses are accessible to anyone, especially those who are looking to switch careers, get a degree to advance their career, or to increase salary. Students can take courses while working, in-between jobs, and even while raising their families. Earning a degree while juggling other responsibilities can show prospective employers ambitiousness and the desire for continued professional development.
7. Continue in your profession:
The advantage of taking online classes while you are working is that you do not have to choose between leaving your job and taking classes. You can continue to work your normal hours while simultaneously furthering your education. Many companies also offer education incentives, and some companies will even pay tuition costs.
8. Avoid commuting
Whether you live in a big city or a rural suburb, commuting can not only be frustrating, but costly. Many online students report saving money on gas, tolls, or public transportation when taking classes online. They also appreciate the time it saves them. As someone who has had to commute to class, it often took two hours out of my day in commuting as well as up to $30 per week in commuting costs.
9. Improve your technical skills
Even a basic online course requires the development of new computer skills. Taking online classes exposes the student to learning how to use different LMSs (learning management systems) to incorporate audio/video into assignments, sharing documents, and even to take some online training workshops.
10. The ability to attend class no matter the circumstances
This by far was one of the biggest appeals to online learning for me. If I wasn’t feeling well, I wasn’t forced to miss class and fall behind on assignments. I was still able to attend class from my bed and to stay on top of my work. In addition, this can be helpful for parents with sick children. If they are forced to stay home and take care of their sick children, they can still log on to class, and do not have to deal with the added stress of falling behind on their coursework.
If I were going to add an eleventh advantage, I would add one on behalf of the instructors teaching these online courses. While every single one of these advantages does also apply to the instructor, the most important advantage for instructors, in my opinion, is that teaching online classes forces the instructor to get creative with their instruction. An online course is most successful when instructors think outside the box when creating online assignments. This can be incredibly rewarding and fun for an instructor as well as the student. Both parties need to have the right attitude when going into online learning. In my experience, my passion for learning and my excitement for expanding my technology skills fueled my success in online education. As an instructor, or a student, your passion for education must be greater than your fears of technology. Whether you are a novice computer user or advanced, online learning is universal, and can be extremely advantageous to those who are willing to learn.