It is a strong belief of mine that the future of higher education lies with online learning. Increasingly, colleges and university students now find themselves with other obligations beyond that of getting a degree. Jobs and family commitments make equal demands on their time. Having the option of taking online classes and studying on their own time is critically important. At the same time, many institutions are unable to accommodate all those who want to take classes on campus, escalating the demand for online learning.
The situation today has come to such a state that lifelong learning must now be a part of everyone’s career plans as in today’s job market, taking online courses help workers remain competitive and they don’t need to take time off from their jobs to do this.
Students need to determine if online learning is an option for them because not everyone does well with this type of study. Some questions that any potential online students should ask is whether or not they can learn independently; how organized they are with their time; whether they are computer savvy; their level of reading comprehension; and if they have at least ten hours a week to devote to each course.
Many make the mistake of assuming that an online class will be easier than one taken in a traditional classroom. Often online instructors assign more reading materials than required in a regular classroom to ensure that students are engaged. Motivation is key to an online student’s success as is his ability to reach out to both instructors and fellow students using certain softwares.
These software programs seamlessly integrates social media, making it possible to create online communities that are course specific. Blogs, tweets, podcasts, webcasts, online chats, discussion boards, and virtual study jams are all part of the online mix. Success in an online course often depends on how connected a student feels to his instructor and fellow students.
I believe that online learning has the potential to revolutionize higher education. Students will be able to learn at their own pace and problems as simple as finding a place to park on campus will be eliminated. Colleges and universities simply cannot build new facilities to accommodate all those who need credits in higher education.
Local businesses can also benefit from online learning. Online learning not only trains the workers of the future, it can also provide a career path for someone employed, and who needs to learn new skills. Employers should recommend online courses that will help with career advancement
For online learning to succeed it is also essential to find and train instructors who can adapt to this new medium. Fortunately, new technology makes it possible for instructors to create exciting new ways to learn online that engage students in ways that are more effective than a lecture hall with hundreds of students.
Higher education officials need to seek out partnerships with technology companies to ensure that their online learning courses take advantage of all new developments that increase the capacity to learn.
I see a future with totally virtual colleges and universities and students will not only take classes at their own institution, but expand their scope by enrolling in courses at the great institutions of learning around the world, the latter of these has already begun.
As of now, we are in the early days of online learning, but we can definitely come to a highly probabilistic assumption concluding that the possibilities of this form of education is limitless.
[This blog was written by P. Lakshmi Aishwarya Holla, Intern, IIMBx ]