Online learning is a term used to describe distance or correspondence courses that are offered over the Internet. The courses offered through online learning cover a wide range of subjects, audiences, and prices. This educational method is growing in popularity as a cost-effective method of providing access to education for a large population.
There are five main reasons behind the growth in online learning: access, efficiency, stability, cost, and technology. The explosion in online learning tools and the adoption of this method by both post-secondary educational institutions and high schools around the world speaks to the fundamental desire for more education. The expanded access to knowledge and information provides the groundwork necessary for many people to start new careers and gain new skills.
There are two types of online course access; open and restricted. Open access allows virtually anyone with an Internet browser to view the course material. This type of online learning does not require interaction with an instructor. The material covered can range from very specific instructions to university level courses. This initiative removes the barriers to advanced knowledge and allows anyone with the interest to learn.
The other type of online courses are restricted access courses. Restricted access is used to limit the class to registered students. These courses offer instructor interaction and are typically the method used by courses that require grades upon completion.
It is more efficient for both the educator and the student to access course materials online. From the educator perspective, the course lectures can be recorded once and reused. The recurring cost is for marking and moderating the class communications. This greatly reduced the staff time and costs.
Online courses allow students to complete coursework from a wide range of locations and remove the time restriction to access course lectures. Students are no longer required to travel to the class and many course materials are included in the fee.
The material for online courses provided by accredited educational institutions has been carefully reviewed and approved before the course is offered. Many introduction and intermediate courses do not change, as the material is static. As a result, the courses are stable and can be reused as needed.
Due to the reduced expenses for online courses, the fees are sometimes lower than a standard instructor-led course. Reduced course costs increases the availability of education to a broader number of people. Additional savings by the student in transportation and related costs make online learning the most cost effective learning method available.
Technology continues to expand to meet the needs of online students. These tools include mobile audio and video viewers, improved online interactive tests, and tool and course management software. The continued development in this area will further enhance the quality of online courses and encourage more people to further their education.