Online learning continues to grow in popularity driven by increased demand and a desire by learning institutes to reach greater numbers of learners. Employers recognize the benefit of online learning from reduced costs, increased engagement and boosting knowledge and skills. Online learning in the workplace makes learning more accessible and measurable. But what are the benefits to individuals and to online learning providers?
The benefits of online learning
Greater convenience and accessibility: Online learning can benefit learners by eliminating the need to commute to a classroom saving precious time and money. The ability to run self-paced courses also makes online learning more convenient as learners can schedule their learning to suit them.
Online learning also opens up learning opportunities to individuals in different locations who might not have an opportunity to access learning only offered in a classroom. With online learning and the use of various online learning tools, learners can be located on opposite sides of the world boosting accessibility and availability of learning opportunities.
Flexible delivery: Traditionally, courses were offered to very strict timetables set by the school/college/university or other training provider. With online learning, courses can be delivered on-demand and self-paced allowing learners to start a course at any time. This offers greater flexibility in terms of meeting learners’ needs as they arise, accommodating more learners and spreading learning across an extended period to allow for better use of teacher resources and enhanced learner experiences.
Environmentally friendly: Online learning is more environmentally friendly than classroom learning. In fact, the Open University found an up to 90% reduction in energy use compared to traditional, classroom learning.
- Learners don’t need to travel to a classroom e.g. not using polluting transport such as cars or public transport
- Classrooms no longer needed thereby reducing the need for electricity, lighting, heating etc
- Digitising learning materials eliminating the need for printing (saves paper and ink)
The reduction in carbon emissions and printed learning resources has a significant impact particularly when you consider millions of learners switching from traditional classrooms to online learning environments.
More effective learning: Online learning can be more effective as it allows for learners to focus on their individual skills and knowledge gaps. In traditional courses, you are expected to follow a set curriculum at a certain pace with little room for adaptation to individual learning needs and desired pace.
Self-paced, online learning allows learners to spend more time on those areas that they need to. Likewise, learners can spend less time on areas they don’t need to. This can be beneficial when a learner needs more time to dive deeper or grasp particular topics, or spend less time on areas they might already be familiar with.
Online learning also encourages teachers and training providers to be more creative in how they engage with learners. The use of different and emerging technologies to enhance learners’ experience is increasing as this area of learning evolves.
The benefits of online learning to learners, training providers and employers is clear. Even as online learning continues to grow and develop, it is already benefiting many personally, professionally and financially. Online learning will no doubt continue to evolve to meet the needs of learners, making use of existing and emerging technologies to enhance learner experiences.