Would you believe that students who engage with online learning have been found to perform better than those who choose to attend a traditional classroom setting like a college or even university face to face?
In fact, the concept of acquiring qualifications through distance learning is no longer seen as ‘lesser’ or ‘inferior’, as countless studies are proving them to be a more effective way to learn.
Are you considering pursuing a course for your professional development?
We’ll be discussing:
- Why you should do an online course.
- What you can achieve with an online course.
- The benefits of online learning.
- Challenges of online learning.
- How to overcome these challenges.
Read more to find out why a virtual learning experience is right for you.
Why choose to do a live online course?
With advancements in technology, it is now entirely possible to learn from the comfort of your own home and even watch lectures from your front room.
Better still, educational establishments are now acknowledging the benefits of this learning approach, and openly recognise and accept these qualifications.
But what about you? Why would you choose online learning?
For many distance learners, the decision to do an online course is primarily based on existing life commitments and location. From caring for a young child or family member, to being unable to commit to full-time study, working full time hours, yet still hoping to secure a promotion, these commitments make it harder for you to go to college or university in person, especially if the qualification you need is not offered in your local area.
Live online courses afford you the flexibility to learn from whatever location and with a better balance for work and life commitments without the struggle to pay for childcare or other considerations. Instead, you can easily fit your studies around your prior commitments and take steps to better yourself with an online course.
What can you achieve with virtual learning?
A virtual classroom can give you more insight, skills and knowledge than you know! With an international connection and a device, you can:
Get a promotion
Live online courses can provide you the freedom to learn in your spare time and acquire the skills you need to apply for that much wanted promotion.
Get better at your current job
Whilst most jobs are big on personal development, making the choice to expand your qualifications in your spare time will show initiative to your employers.
Kickstart your career in a certain industry
The desire to change careers can happen to you at any point, but often you haven’t got the time or the money to make it happen. Online courses allow you to retrain in a new career and attain the right qualifications, without having to give up your current job.
Look for a new job
Online courses can alleviate the stress of searching for a new job, because you can use them to improve CV and job applications, whilst still doing your current job. There is no need to quit your job until you’re ready because you can learn in your spare time.
Now, there is no disputing that virtual learning can make changing jobs or moving up the career ladder easier. However, you need to remember that they aren’t perfect nor are they easy.
As with all things, there are pros and cons to enrolling onto an online course. So, before you decide, we recommend looking at the following pros and cons.
What are the benefits of virtual learning?
Flexible and convenient
One of the biggest gains from choosing to study online is having the freedom and flexibility to study when, where and how you want. Now, this doesn’t mean the workload is any less than you’d get from a traditional course, so you’ll need to manage your time carefully; however, you can control when you study and for how long.
Spend as long as you want on each module
Typically, lecturers will only assign a set amount of time to each topic before moving onto the next. Now, this is great if you understand it, but not everyone has got this luxury. Virtual learning allows you to spend as long or as little as you need to absorb and understand the syllabus, meaning if you’re struggling with something you can spend a little longer digesting it.
Study while you earn
There is no need to change your work hours to attend classes or quit your job in order to go to a university far away. With live online courses, you'll be able to pick and choose when you learn; you can easily fit your studies and assignments around your existing work hours, or even into them if your employer is happy for you to do so, enabling you to earn whilst you learn.
You can begin your studies at any time
Most traditional courses start in September or January and finish respectively by July or November of the following year, but they essentially have a strict start and finishing time.
Online courses can provide you with more flexibility to start at different times of the year. Even if they have exams, course suppliers will provide you with a list of recommended test centres where you can then pick and choose when you want to take your exams.
You can learn in a way that best suits you
The reality is, we all learn differently, so what might work for one person, may not work for another. And this can prove to be a big problem with classroom learning, as lecturers usually only teach in one way. When this occurs, there is usually a portion of the class who haven’t fully comprehended the syllabus.
Online learning allows you to study independently and absorb information based on your own personal learning preferences. From repetitively writing out your notes to speaking them aloud, to re-watching recorded webinars, you can control how you learn the syllabus. Similarly, you’ll have the freedom to adjust your style and harness your learning strengths.
Carrying on from the point above, i.e. the fact that one size does not fit all when it comes to learning; online learning is ideal for students who find classroom environments intimidating. Instead of being worried about having to speak in a classroom environment you can choose whether you would like to speak, provide written contributions or just listen or read content in online webinar and forum environments.
Accessible for all
Through use of your device and the internet you can access course information, webinars and assignment templates to help you complete your studies. Likewise, you will be able to easily connect with your personal tutors through their student support network.
From the moment you enrol you will be assigned your very own personal tutor, who will be available – at the click of a button (via the VLE) – to answer your questions as well as supply you with valuable feedback on your work/assignments.
MOL tutors will have personal working knowledge of your chosen industry and will be able to provide you with first-hand expertise and experience of the field.
Caters to all age groups and needs
For those who are limited, for example, due to caring for children or elderly parents; online courses can afford you the chance to learn whilst remaining committed to your family. Similarly, they are ideal for anyone with physical challenges, as you can work towards achieving professional qualifications from the comfort of your own home.
More time to think
There is no need for an immediate response. Instead, you can carefully think through your answer and edit what you send. Likewise, you can communicate with other students and your tutor within support forums and engage in thoughtful and informed discussions.
There is no having to deal with students who dominate the discussion – as is often the case in the classroom. Instead, you can each equally voice your opinions within a relaxed environment without fear of one person monopolising the session.
Network with like-minded people
Online courses are great for forming peer groups of like-minded people, who can relate to your situation.
For example, you may find other students on your course who are also trying to juggle being a parent or work part-time with studying. And this is great as you can connect, form friendships and chat to others who know exactly what you’re going through.
Learn in comfort
From your bed or sofa, to sitting in your pyjamas; you can ensure that you’re 100% comfortable whilst studying.
You’d be surprised by how much time you lose travelling to college, finding a parking spot, walking from class to class, and waiting for your teacher to arrive.
Online courses can instantly save you time, as not only will you be in complete control of when you work but also all you’ll have to do is wait until your PC/laptop/tablet logs you in.
Potential pitfalls of virtual learning and how to avoid them
Lack of community around courses
Unless you make an active effort to join an online student forum, this form of study can be quite isolating as you may find yourself studying alone.
Most online course providers such as MOL offer a Learner Support Network where you can easily reach out, ask questions and engage with others on your course.
Whilst studying at your own pace alleviates a lot of stress, if you struggle to manage your time, then this type of study may prove difficult. Online courses require a lot of independent study, so you need to take charge of your time management and keep yourself motivated.
For instance, if there is no one there to tell you to complete another module or start/submit your assignment, then you may decide to ‘leave it until later.’
Then there is dealing with schedule clashes. You need to know that you can make enough time to get your studies done and that you won’t prioritise everything else above your learning.
If you struggle with time management and motivation, then why not take a look at our article on succeeding in your online course and distance learning.
Alternatively, you can try creating a schedule that works around your current work commitments, but still gives you plenty of time to study (based on your personal learning preferences).
Higher risk of confusion/misinterpretation of learning materials
There is a danger that you could misinterpret/misunderstand topics on your course materials, leading to issues later on down the line when completing assignments/exams.
To avoid any confusion, it is essential that you take advantage of student support. With MOL, you can reach out to our Learner Support Network and can run your questions past others on your course (as well as your tutor).
Not everyone will want to listen to lectures, watch videos or read online resources. There is still a percentage of the populace who prefer face to face learning.
You need to consider what type of learner you are. If you feel that you’d benefit more from a physical learning environment, then we suggest sticking to our face to face courses.
Alternatively, you can try online courses and establish a peer group with other learners. We often have groups of students who interact through our Virtual Learning Environment, or make use of social media platforms to chat and discuss topics of study.
You can also regularly reach out to your tutor and run your questions/concerns past them. REMEMBER: even with an online course, you will still receive personalised attention and help whenever you need it from a real-life person.
Internet connection and computer skills
Some people may have difficulty accessing the internet or navigating a computer. In-person classes may provide some support for using computers, however, online education is a slight barrier to this.
For online learning, teachers and students must all be aware of how to use computers for effective teaching and learning. Students may have to access learning platforms such as a virtual learning environment (VLE).
Depending on how up-to-date your device is – and your computer skills – you may need to improve these before you start. When it comes to updating your device you may need to purchase more software.
Whilst in terms of skills, you may need to enhance your existing computer knowledge in order to complete your work/studies/assignments.
We hope this article has fulfilled its aims of sharing the benefits of online learning and providing you with solutions to any possible pitfalls that may occur when studying.
For more assistance with your learning journey, why not contact us at MOL today and look at our range of courses?
With fully accredited courses and learning materials spanning Levels 2-7, you can easily expand your qualifications and improve your opportunities to progress in your job or find better employment opportunities as you become more qualified.