What’s It Like To Learn in an Online Classroom?

Posted by on Tue, Jul 21, 2015


what online classes are like

Many adult students find it advantageous to learn online so you might be wondering if it’s the right method of learning for you. Students in the 50+ age group in particular, who may be less familiar with the digital tools that online courses employ, can waver over the decision to jump onto this flexible learning path. But career advancement often demands additional education and college degrees, so if you’re worried that learning via the computer won’t be a good as learning in a classroom setting, watch this video from Kaplan University for a peek into the world of online education:

Now that you have a taste of what an online education can offer, let’s go over four of its top advantages.

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1. Online education is interactive

Many types of online courses are available on the internet. Although some of them are self-paced, when you sign up for online college courses you won’t be on your own. You’ll interact with your professors and classmates via technology like Skype, video chat rooms, and classroom forums.

If you’ve read that there can be thousands of students enrolled in an online college course and you’re afraid that you’ll be lost in the crowd, don’t be concerned—you’re reading about MOOCs. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are free college courses that can have tens of thousands of students enrolled in them from all over the world at once. Obviously, contact with a professor is limited in these courses although they can still be very interactive amongst the students. In paid online college courses, enrollment is capped and students have the ability to ask their professors questions, collaborate on  assignments, and actively participate in classroom discussions.

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2. There’s a variety of resources is available to online learners

If you’ve ever had trouble staying awake in a lecture hall, online learning offers a great variety of educational resources to keep you engaged in the learning process. With everything from live classroom feeds to watching supplemental video tutorials, listening to lectures from experts and reading engaging text materials as well as utilizing the latest online learning tools, you won’t likely find yourself snoring in the middle of any online lessons. And, if you miss something important that was said or you have trouble understanding any material, you can usually pause and rewind what you’re looking at until you’ve got it down pat.

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3. Online education offers flexible scheduling

When you’re taking online courses, many of your lessons and assignments can be structured around your schedule as long as they’re completed before specified deadlines. If you’re working or caring for family members, this is a good way to fit in your education as well. Study when it’s the best time for you— in the morning, in the evening, on weekends—just be sure to set aside a consistent time for your coursework so you can get it done on schedule. Also, if there are live classroom sessions you need to attend and you can’t make it, they’re often recorded for later viewing; just make sure you check in with your professor about it first. Online learning requires equally as much work as classroom learning, the difference is that you have more control over the time you spend “in class.”

4. It’s all about the location

Just as any good real estate deal is dependent upon a good location, a good education is dependent upon good schools. With the abundance of online education that is available today, you can attend most any school you want from the comfort of your own home. Even attending local colleges and universities can be more appealing to attend online when you think about the time, trouble, and expense you’ll save by not commuting. Many schools also offer blended learning programs where you can find the best of both worlds by attending classes both online and on campus.

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Is online learning right for you?

Online education is great for busy people and for students who are motivated. If you’re a procrastinator, you might fall into bad habits with the freedom that online learning has to offer. The key is to know yourself and to understand your learning style.

If you don’t know how well you will do in an online classroom, you can take a test run by participating in a MOOC. It’s not exactly the same experience—as mentioned previously there are many more students and less access to your instructors—but the experience can help you get used to the online format and digital technology. MOOCs are free so what do you have to lose?

If you find that you enjoy online learning, consider advancing your skill set by earning an online college degree or professional certificate next. Tim Driver, the CEO of RetirementJobs.com, emphasizes that, “Earning a degree may help show employers that you are a dedicated worker who will stick with a profession.” You can listen to Driver’s reasoning below:

Remember, with online learning, your choices are as varied as your online options are!

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