E-Learning – Advantages and Disadvantages


E-Learning

Are you serious?  Can I really that online?  I thought I had to apply to a program in some city a thousand miles away from home, then wait until September to start, and then work at my instructors pace, which after a couple of years will finally lead to a certificate or a diploma and hopefully a real understanding of the skills I need to learn.  Not anymore.  Online learning has revolutionized the educational environment.  Along with the noticeable convenience of being able to be educated from in front of your computer, at home or at a coffee shop, there are several other advantages of online learning.

 

What Is Online Learning?

Online learning refers to any courses or lessons that are delivered over the internet, whether they lead to a degree of just help you build the skills you need to get a job or advance your career.  Online learning can involve interaction with an instructor and with other students, or it can involve you sitting at a coffee shop in front of your laptop learning the latest tricks you can do with a piece of software you thought you knew inside and out.   Online learning allows people to brush up on skills, take classes, earn degrees, and do just about anything in between.

 

Why Would One Choose the Internet for Education?

1. Convenience

The convenience is second to none.  Can you imagine actually having to apply through the mail to the educational program you want to attend?  Can you imagine having to wait months while the school tries to decide if you’re worthy of paying them to take their classes?  Can you imagine having to wait until September before you start your program?  Of course you can, but in the online world this is quickly becoming a thing of the past.  Although not yet universal, it is possible to decide at this moment that you want to learn something and spend the next several hours in front of your computer with a truly top-notch instructor, giving you highly in-depth training – training that may otherwise only be available at the absolute best programs in less than ideal locations.

2. Flexibility

The flexibility is great, especially if you don’t have the resources to become a full-time student.  It can be difficult to balance work and school at a traditional educational program, but it is rare to find an online course that requires you to be at your computer at a specific time.  Although assignments in instructor led online programs usually have due dates, you can complete your class work at any time of the day or night and on any day of the week.  There is no longer the need to commute three days a week to sit in a classroom.

With education over the internet, you can work at your own pace.  You’ll only need to take the classes you have the time for, and if you have a lot of time or can finish your work quickly, you can race through a degree or build your skills rapidly.

3. Specialization

E-learning allows for a very high level of specialization, that was not universally available before.  The most cutting-edge content is taught by the most highly skilled educators and industry professionals.  The access to experts is unprecedented.  If there is a specific and highly specialized skill that you are interested in learning, the chances are that you will be able to find it online and taught by someone so highly qualified that you will be confident that your training is truly top-notch.

Real world skills are taught and learned at every moment of the day on the internet.  Whether you need to know how to design logos using Photoshop for a project you’re working on, or if you need to learn how to decorate a cake for a party you’re throwing, these skills are available on the internet.

4. Immediacy

A great deal of the educational material that’s available online is available immediately.  I mean now, at this instant.  If you stop before you finish reading this, you can actually start learning the skill of your choice within the next few minutes (within the next one minute if you’re already signed up with an online educational website).  Not only will you be able to begin immediately, but you’ll be able to see immediate results.  Just pick a topic you’re interested in learning about, and see how much you can learn about it in the next hour.

Many instructor led programs still require that you work according to a set college schedule, but even in this case the time between your application and your beginning your course work is generally much shorter than it used to be.

5. Current Content

Did the software you’ve been using for years just release an updated version (I couldn’t stand it when Microsoft Office messed up their old header with this new interactive one).  Up to date content is available for most computer skills within days after updates are made.  The internet is truly able to keep pace (and set the pace) of this rapidly changing world.  Traditional educational programs are regularly criticized for not being able to keep up with the technological changes in the industries that they train students in.

6. Cost

The cost of online learning is generally much lower than bricks-and-mortar alternatives.  Although many established universities generally charge their online students the same tuition as they charge their on-campus students, this is not always the case.  Even in the cases where the tuition fees are the same, by studying online, you’ll save the costs of transportation and housing, which can be equal to or greater than the costs of studying, depending on where you study.  Self-paced online learning programs, that limit instructor involvement to the creation of the course, are known for their affordability .

 

Disadvantages

Online learning isn’t for everyone.  Just because a tremendous amount of content is available online, doesn’t mean that everyone will learn from it.  Motivation and good study habits are required to get the most from it.  There is something positive to be said for attending a class.  Assignments are made clear and due-dates stand out.  In an online atmosphere, you’ll need to keep track of everything.  You may even have to design your own training program, if you’re not signing up for a degree or a certificate program.

The usual social aspects of school are missing in the E-Learning world.  Although you may engage in detailed discussions on the forums available with many online classes, this is quite different from the face-to-face contact that comes from a class in a school environment.  It’s not nearly as easy to make friends, especially if your classmates are thousands of miles away.

Certain skills that require hands-on work are difficult to learn.  There may be some modules that help you improve certain skills in these fields, but real hands on skills like plumbing, welding and computer repair are probably much better learned with an instructor who can give you the true hands on training that these fields require.

If you are considering going back to school to get a new degree or just to build up your skills to make yourself stand out in this highly competitive job market, consider the advantages of online learning.  Don’t limit your research to traditional educational programs.  These days online training is so widespread and the quality is so high, that you are more than likely than ever to find top-notch programs that come with the great advantages that internet education has over traditional educational settings.

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