Ever met somebody who studied for a master's degree in their underpants without ever leaving their kitchen?
On the train? How about the airport?
You may not have noticed it, but online education has revolted against the status quo in recent years. Once seen as a quirky way to earn a qualification in your pajamas, it has evolved - or been forced to evolve - in droves.
Its popularity continues to grow in the wake of the pandemic. It's efficient and accessible. You can learn any professional or personal skill under the sun.
And you can do it right now. Keep reading to learn more.
Let's get one thing out of the way off the bat: Online learning is effective when delivered the right way. Distance learning degrees are increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional approaches.
Both virtual learning environments and "real" ones bring their own advantages. Digital education may never replace the traditional approach. After all, it does have its merits:
Being present in a lecture hall or classroom is effective. Yet, as the digital sector has evolved, many of the advantages of in-person teaching can be matched in virtual spaces.
In some ways, those virtual spaces complement the classroom. In others, they surpass it.
Schools and colleges require attendance. The final punishment for absence is expulsion. While the naysayers argue that virtual attendance isn't easy to manage, it's a matter of perspective.
In e-learning, the responsibility lies with the participant to attend learning courses just as with face-to-face learning.
And that's the crux of the issue: Online learning requires more motivation on the learner's end. And digital teachers have learned a lot in solving the motivation problem.
Overall, digital learning is at its most effective, when:
When those criteria are fulfilled, distance learners can take advantage of the many benefits of online learning...
Distance learning and traditional classrooms are fundamentally different.
As we hinted at above, they require varying approaches to be effective. But, when done right, online learning has the potential to outshine its predecessor.
Online learning beats face-to-face in terms of accessibility. From students living abroad to industry professionals furthering their skill set, classes can be taken from anywhere.
Note-taking during lectures is stressful at the best of times.
Yet digital learning makes it easy to review a class after the fact and revise notes. Rewind and review, or rewatch later on. And there's no need to worry about picking up paper handouts or other course materials.
Everything's available in a virtual dashboard at the click of a button.
Distance learning means learning on your own time and at your own pace. The virtual classroom is available at any hour.
Students can work around hectic family lives and busy work schedules. A shift worker can learn during the night; a nine-to-fiver can learn in the evening hours.
In-person courses are expensive. College is exorbitant. But distance degrees are attainable at a fraction of the cost. And the same is true for workshops aimed at professionals.
It's a simple equation: Digital courses are cheaper to provide. That flattens the cost for the consumer.
Who said learning can't be fun?
Between pop quizzes and educational games online, gamified learning has been shown to improve knowledge retention immensely. It's no surprise, either. Interactivity forces people to engage.
Every student is working on their own device, able to access gamified apps at their own leisure. That isn't possible in a classroom that still relies on pen and paper.
Everything under the sun is available in e-learning, from an online master's in education to snap workshops that can be completed in a day or two.
And since learners are free to progress under their own steam, breaking large courses down into digestible chunks is straightforward.
College is no longer an elite institution. Degrees are more attainable than ever and the palette of available topics to study grows year on year - as does college attendance. Yet a four-year course is aimed at a select demographic:
Young, middle-class, and not in employment.
A working single mother has several hurdles to overcome - childcare, income, time management - that collide with the strict requirements of college tuition.
That's only a part of the larger picture. Working adults have full calendars. That throws a full-time course out the window. And the availability of part-time courses in traditional universities is wanting.
Distance learning degrees are a different ball game. They're designed that way.
Online education degrees were once sidelined by recruiters and employers. That isn't the case anymore.
In fact, studying a degree from home while juggling employment reflects positively on any prospective applicant.
Studying and working at the same time speaks volumes to discipline. It says a lot about time management. It takes dedication to pull yourself through a distance learning course with little oversight.
It takes the kind of work ethic that makes any hiring manager add a resume to the "call for an interview" list. And let's face it: Students are infamous for a laissez-faire approach to life and its responsibilities.
The scales have tipped.
The recent calamities of the times have propelled the uptake of online education a decade into the future. It's now a vital part of the new normal.
It's an attractive option if you've always wanted to earn a degree. And it's a fantastic one if you're a professional looking to acquire new skills for your next promotion.
At Teccelerator, we specialize in UX/UI design and business education. With an open Slack channel available to all, we offer daily talks, networking opportunities for a global audience, and instructor-led online courses. Check us out today.