I'm an engineering student currently doing my major in Mechatronics. I'm a bookworm and I've got a great passion for writing articles.
How did online courses become so popular?
Once upon a time, the best way to learn and progress was to endure tiresome lectures of old professors, including professors who really don't have adequate knowledge of the particular topic that he tried to make students understand. That not only killed our precious time but also killed our motivation to learn, drained our energy, and made us feel exhausted. At that time, it was also pretty difficult to learn new skills that are out of the syllabus.
Now let's take a look at our present day. Things are really changed a lot. A miracle has happened. The life savior technology internet has come. As internet users keep increasing day by day, more and more people are becoming dependent on the internet for their learning needs. The true blessing of the internet is that we can have quality education at any time, anywhere we want, as long as we have access to a computer, laptop, or mobile.
It becomes more clear about the trending popularity of online courses by the most recent survey from Babson Survey Research Group, which states "Over 30 percent of higher education students in the United States has taken at least one online course." The trend of taking online courses hasn't only started because of the global pandemic situation, the trend is going on for quite a long time. According to the national center for educational statistics, in fall 2018, there have been 6,932,074 students enrolled in any online education courses at degree-granting postsecondary institutions.
Online courses are mainstream since they offer a flexible and adaptable approach to master new abilities and obtain significant information. It's the best way to sharpen our skills. And it really doesn't matter whether you are an adult or a teen, online learning has better scope for everyone.
Now let's see some of the main reasons for the recent popularity of online courses.
1. Online courses are so flexible:
Online distance education courses are much more flexible than the traditional classroom. You can take high-quality classes literally from anywhere as long as you have stable wifi or network connection. There isn't even any rule about the dress code. Moreover, most of the online courses are recorded, so you can rewatch as many times as you want. Studying online also teaches us vital time management skills. So it’s pretty much evident that online courses provide us more comfortable learning environment.
2. Online courses are cheaper:
Online courses are way cheaper compared to on-campus courses. Again you don’t need to ride a bus or train. Even in most cases, you don’t have to pay a lot for buying books because most of the online courses provide open-source resources. Moreover, there are some online courses that are absolutely free. Universities like MIT and IIT provide free open courses over YouTube.
3.Online courses offer a wide selection of products:
In a space as immense and wide as the internet, there are boundless abilities and subjects to instruct and learn. Online courses are versatile. From engineering to business management there are plenty of online courses for almost every type of student. Some recognized online courses also provide an official certificate, diploma, or even a degree without physically setting a foot on the campus.
4. Resource Availability:
For a particular topic, there are so many resources available online nowadays. If contents from one online course don’t suit your learning style and learning objectives, you can easily switch to another online platform. You never ever have to compromise any of your learning objectives. There are plenty of courses offered by top universities and instructors worldwide.
5. Pacing Options:
There are basically three types of online courses available nowadays.
The first one is asynchronous courses. These type of courses does not hold scheduled meetings. These courses are basically prerecorded video lectures from the instructors. Popular distance learning platforms like Coursera, Edx, and Udemy are the best example of it. Students complete their homework at convenient times but must still meet assignment deadlines.
The second one is synchronous courses. It's just like on-campus courses but the medium is online. It maintains a set meeting time where professors and instructors teach on Zoom, Microsoft Meet, or other video conferencing platforms.
And lastly, the third one is accelerated courses. It refers to courses that last fewer than 4 months. These types of clash courses are helpful to quickly learn new skills.
Students can freely choose any of these courses as per their own needs.
6. Quality of pedagogy:
Students are becoming more inclined towards online courses because most of the online course platforms are enriched with quality instructors and quality contents. Free platforms like Khan Academy and Coursera have set a high standard of online education that people are drawn to. Some renowned platforms offer certificates so that the candidates can validate their skills. As a result, people are becoming more and more interested in online courses.
7. Community and Network-Building:
As you surf through the internet, you will find millions of people who want to learn the same topic as you do. So most of the online course platforms include forums and communities to make the online content easier for individuals and find answers together. Often instructors and professors also take time to answer some important questions on the forums and it enhances the learning environment. Some online platform like Coursera has peer graded assignment which allows to check and grade other participant’s assignment.
8. Feedback is faster and more frequent:
It hard to believe but it’s basically true that online learners have more interactions with teachers than traditional classroom learners. Online learners have to complete more frequent assignments and Homeworks than offline learners. In this system, not only extroverts but also introverts directly ask teachers about their specific course-related problems or ask questions in forums and communities.
9. Improving technical skills:
Online learning can help students hone the technical skills they will need on the job. New skills can include the ability to use new software suites, conduct in-depth online research, and communicate effectively online in a variety of formats such as discussion boards and teleconferencing. Employers also need these capabilities as more and more jobs require workers to work remotely. Students can also update their resumes with new skills and address them during a work interview.
10. Career Advancement:
Nontraditional students enjoys two major advantages of online courses in terms of career development. To begin, a diploma or degree will qualify an employee for a pay increase. Second, some businesses only hire people with a bachelor's or master's degree for managerial positions. Earning a degree will lead to a promotion and perhaps higher pay.
It’s also best for students who are interested in part-time jobs. Students can do jobs during the daytime and complete coursework and assignments in the nighttime or on the weekends. As a result, learners can continue working while they study.
11. You may incur a lot less student loan debt:
Because of not having to pay for room and board or commuting, online study can save you a considerable amount of money. Most online programs are designed with the assumption that students are working, and likely full-time. Being able to work while attending school means you can have to take on less student loan debt. Your future self will thank you.
12.Online courses are convenient:
The most significant benefit of taking an online course is that your classroom and teacher are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Your only reason for skipping class is that you are unable to connect to the internet! Otherwise, you have access to everything. You can access announcements, notes, review assignments, take practice quizzes, discuss questions, talk with other students, and study whenever you want. Aside from specific deadlines, you create your own timetable for fulfilling the course requirements.
Despite having tons of advantages, online courses have some minor disadvantages too. Typically online courses make you feel isolated. Nobody can hear you scream in an online course. Some online students are bothered by this. It can be frightening to study alone with only the machine as a friend. Moreover, online courses give you freedom more than you can handle. It also requires finding your own path of learning.
However, academics have long recognized the importance of online education. According to a 2012 Babson/College Board poll, 77 percent of university leaders thought online education options are almost as good as, if not better than, classroom-based educational offerings. Employers are seeing the message as well. Nowadays more recruiting managers are giving the value of online degrees, as long as they are from well-accredited organizations. Online college choices will continue to grow in popularity as costs fall (thanks to improved technology) and the standard of instruction evolves and improves. Online learning would surely become less of a novelty in the next decade.
When campuses are closed due to the Covid pandemic, online learning and online courses are the perfect options for students to resume their studies and develop their skills. Online courses are surely the “Next Big Thing”.