Online learning, or e-learning, offers a number of advantages for people and companies looking to develop a new content program or curricula — none bigger than the ability to offer that training anywhere, anytime. That means whether your trainees are all together in a classroom or scattered all over the country in different time zones, they can still tap into the same course materials, and at a time that’s convenient to them.
Small wonder, then, why online and e-learning has caught on with schools and universities, retail chains, top corporations, and among professional trainers. Teachers can optimize the timeliness and focus of the curriculum, students can better fit learning time into their schedules, and companies end up spending less on training their workforce.
But those are just some of the benefits of online learning. Here are some others:
- Simple, Flexible Logistics: After location, time is the greatest limitation on learning. That goes for both the instructors and the students, each of whom has to be both available and in alignment with the other for face-to-face instruction. By removing that requirement, everyone involved can participate at a time, and for a duration, that suits his or her schedules.
- Immediate Results and Feedback: Anyone who has graded papers knows it can get tedious, and it’s time-consuming. Many of the most popular standardized tests, in fact, still rely on evaluation techniques that slow results. Most online learning technologies integrate online quizzes and other tools to more rapidly evaluate the pace of learning.
- Better Retention: With clever design, user experience, and multimedia, online instruction can prove to be a richer and more effective learning experience than traditional methods and channels.
- Greater Access to Expertise: In any country, there are only a handful of cities that can claim among their residents the experts in every field of study. Take away the limitations of geography, and expertise is free to travel almost anywhere. This transformation allows information on highly specialized subjects to reach more people, paving the way for advances in fields from telemedicine to non-profit charities.
- The Most Up-to-Date Content at Much Lower Cost: The sticker shock associated with the textbook market is not news to anyone who has enrolled in even a single college course. And yet, despite the cost, our knowledge of most subjects continues to grow and evolve, making $200 textbooks unreliable with a few years, and eventually of no use at all. The remote delivery of curriculum allows instructors to keep materials up-to-date, and the lower costs over time remove what for some are insurmountable obstacles to furthering their education.
- A Better Fit for 21st-Century Businesses: As companies become more globally focused, co-workers are more likely to work in different places, if not on different continents. Online learning can help prepare employees to excel in today’s scattered, virtual office. For those already working up the career ladder, online learning makes use of resources and technologies already at their fingertips.
Online learning is a still a relatively young industry, promising a rich future of breakthroughs. New models of teaching are already emerging that have the potential to take online learning to even greater accomplishments.
Additional resources on online learning:
- Developing an Online Course, Depaul University Teaching Commons
- United States Distance Learning Association
Open Educational Resources for developing K-12 online courses