In today’s education market, an astounding 80 per cent of students around the world are engaged in online learning. In Australia, online study is at the forefront in the education sector, with many universities and TAFEs expanding their online course offerings as a result of the dramatic rise in demand and predicted exponential growth.
Various studies have shown that distance learning programs are just as efficient and as valuable as regular classroom programs, and sometimes even better. A study examining the effectiveness of web-based versus face-to-face delivery of education found that participants were more attracted to online education because of its greater flexibility and offering of work/life balance. It also promoted a learner-centred approach and enabled students to overcome potential obstacles to engaging in education.
So what are the benefits of studying online?
Online learning is available to everyone and overcomes barriers or restrictions that can limit engagement, providing the flexibility to accommodate your specific individual needs. Students with mobility limitations, experiencing an illness or who have a medical condition, and those who live in rural areas or who don’t have access to transport, can work at their own pace from wherever they want. You no longer have to be on campus to get an education.
You get to choose how and when you want to study! You can study in the luxury of your own home, or anywhere else that takes your fancy.
Online courses are almost always cheaper than their on-campus counterparts. Not only do you save money on study costs, you also save on other related costs such as parking, public transport, petrol and, for some people, childcare.
Do you want to spend hours stuck in traffic or on public transport? Online study enables you to save a lot of time and energy. You’re not restricted to a rigid timetable and don’t have to waste valuable time waiting around for classes – time that could be better used to study, work or see family and friends.
Online study enables you to choose from a broad range of courses, not just the local offerings. You can evaluate a multitude of courses and decide which one you like the best.
Some people pick things up quickly and can power through course material, while others need more time to digest and review. With online study you have 24/7 access to study materials and can choose the speed and intensity that is right for you.
As a distance education student you don’t have to worry about your work hours and taking time off to attend classes. Research demonstrates that students who are working and studying benefit from being able to apply their learning to their work and vice versa. Graduate Destinations 2011 reported that graduates who studied mainly by distance had better full-time employment outcomes than those who studied on campus, presumably because many of the external students were able to work and gain valuable experience while they studied.
At the click of a button you can ask a lecturer a question, submit an assignment or even engage with other students. No more playing phone tag or waiting outside lecturers’ offices!
Online study enables you to broaden your professional network. Rather than just meeting local students, you will be able to connect to a diverse range of people who can offer their advice and support.
The most frequent question from potential students is whether or not hiring managers place the same value on distance learning. We spoke to Andrew Ryan, a Senior Human Resources Manager who has worked in banking, professional services and utilities organisations. ‘When recruiting applicants, I look at everything on balance based on the position we are recruiting – what do their results look like? Is a degree or diploma needed for the job? What experience do they have? There are many quality distance learning programs run by leading institutions and I value that candidates have taken the initiative to undertake education, online or campus based’.
Penny, a mother of three who worked in a senior management role, decided to finally explore her passion for interior decorating. Having three boys under the age of 7 made it impossible to attend classes so she did her research and found numerous online course offerings available. The course Penny chose provided flexibility and an opportunity to see if she wanted to change her career path from the allied health sector into interior design. ‘I loved the course! Having trained originally as a physiotherapist and then moving into management, it gave me the opportunity to see if I really wanted to make the move into a more creative role’. She has recently established her own interior decorating business after starting with doing the bedrooms of her friends’ children. Word-of-mouth took off and now it’s full steam ahead! ‘Down the track I would like to do more online studies, but at the moment I’m in the right place and loving what I’m doing!’
Take advantage of the benefits of online study.