Online Learning: Behind The Scenes Of Distance Education

Wondering what is an online learning and how it works? Read this article to look behind the scenes of distance learning.

9 min read

The core concept of online learning has been around for a while. Even back in 2000, the global e-learning industry was already $48 billion worth, and it only keeps gaining momentum.

Today, in the digital era, distance education is popular as never. According to a study, over six million students decided to pursue their degrees online in 2017. And this number keeps growing every year. But why so many people opt for it? What pros does it have?

In the 21st century, in the time of rapid technological progress and reign of the Internet, it may seem like we already know everything about e-learning. Yet, there is still a lot to dissect when it comes to online education, its worthiness, and effectiveness. In this article, we are going to dig deeper and look closer at online learning, to help you learn everything you need to know about this approach to education. Let’s dive in!

What Is Online Learning?

Before we go any further, let’s take a moment here to sort out the concept of e-learning. In a nutshell, e-learning is just another educational system that uses information and electronic technologies (i.e. the Internet and multimedia), instead of traditional tools and materials.

The term online learning is quite broad. At this point, it covers pretty much all types of learning that take place online. This includes self-education, online courses, online educational resources, and even complete degrees attained distantly.

Top Best Resources For Online Learning

Now that you know the online learning definition, let’s move on and see what resources are currently available for people seeking to pursue their degrees online. Today, due to the growing popularity of distance education, there is a wide range of resources. Most universities offer at least a few online programs. And there are even fully online institutions like the University of People. Not to mention how many educational masterclasses, websites, lectures, courses, and other resources are also available.

If you are at the beginning of your journey, here are a few of the most popular and time-tested resources for online learning:

EdX

EdX is one of the biggest and most recognized educational portals. At its website, students and professionals can find a wide range of online courses as well as full degree programs on a variety of subjects. The courses provided here are offered by actual accredited universities, among which are such prestigious institutions like Harvard or Berkeley. The best part about it is that it’s free! Anyone can take a course without paying a penny, which is great. However, if you’d like to receive a certificate of completion, you will need to pay a few bucks for it.

Open Yale Courses

We bet everyone has heard of Yale. Being one of the most prestigious educational facilities, the school is willing to share knowledge with everyone and offers lots of great lectures and courses free of charge. Open Yale Courses is a great place to get valuable information and learn from the best professors. But, it doesn’t award any degrees or certificates.

Coursera

Another platform, pretty similar to EdX, is Coursera. This portal is also created for students and professionals seeking to obtain a degree or take any additional courses. The portal partners with hundreds of universities, including the big and famous ones, which provide materials for their courses. Some courses here are free, others are paid but quite affordable. And there is also a possibility to buy a certificate after you complete any program.

Microsoft Virtual Academy

How cool would it be to become a specialist certified by such a famous and huge corporation as Microsoft? Well, that’s possible! The Microsoft Virtual Academy is a unique opportunity to take top-rated online courses in the fields of Cloud Computing, IT, and all things internet from one of the world’s technological leaders. And many courses offered here are also free!

Open University

Another great resource is the Open University. Just like other platforms from this list, it offers both online courses and full degree programs that can be taken by anyone from any part of the globe. Unfortunately, compared to the previous resources, Open University might be a bit too expensive. But, the good news is that they offer financial aid.

How Do Online Courses Work?

Before taking on an online learning course or program, many are wondering how those work and being assessed. To answer this question it is important to understand what types of online courses are there. Let’s look at a few most common types:

Lectures – there are plenty of resources that publish free lectures. These are often free to view. But, they are solely informational and aimed at delivering knowledge, not assessing it. As a rule, all you get from such lectures are actual knowledge and your own notes. Certificates are not awarded.

Self-learning courses – another common form of online learning are courses for self-learning. Typically, such courses consist of several modules, each containing a number of lessons. Since they are not led by instructors, the completion of all modules and any tasks present in a course are solely under the learner’s responsibility. Such courses may be assessed and even award a certificate. Often, they have some kind of final test. The results of the test assess the outcomes of learning.

Instructor-led courses – these work similarly to self-learning courses. The only difference is that learners and their progress are being supervised by an instructor. Often, such courses may also contain live lectures and classes, as well as module tests and final exams. In this case, the outcomes of learning are assessed based both on the test results and overall progress throughout the course.

Online degrees – finally, when it comes to full-fledged online qualifications, such programs work more similarly to traditional degree courses. Only they are led online. Typically, in this case, students become a part of an actual class and have dedicated professors for each subject. They also have to attend online lectures, complete homework, and pass tests, just like they would do in a regular university. In this case, degrees are awarded based on overall academic performance throughout the program.

Are Online Certificates Recognized?

As was already mentioned, many online learning courses award certificates and degrees. So, it is natural to wonder whether such degrees are actually recognized before you decide to study online. The answer is yes, but not all of them.

Many online programs do give you a chance to receive industry-recognized certification. Degrees and courses that offer MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) certificates will most likely be recognized. Due to the high popularity of distance education, many educational facilities, as well as employers have long recognized such certificates.

However, when it comes to courses that are not a part of MOOC, there may be certain issues. Whether or not such a certificate will be recognized depends mostly on the institution that delivers it. If it is licensed and accredited, then it’s all good. If not, chances are that a certificate will not have any real value. Thus, before picking up a specific course, be sure to check is it is one of the accredited ones.

Is Online Learning Affordable?

It is fair to say that online learning is generally more affordable than traditional education. This applies not only to the fees alone but also to the costs you cut down on when studying online, such as:

  • Transportation
  • Accommodation
  • Course materials
  • All sorts of school supplies
  • And many other expenses

Also, online courses are much cheaper since they don’t require as many additional operational expenses as traditional programs. Besides, there are many very cheap or free courses out there. Thus, it is an excellent opportunity for students who can’t afford to go to college.

Popular Online Colleges And Universities

We already discussed a few popular learning resources. Now, what about actual colleges and universities that operate online? According to BestColleges, here are a few of the best accredited online institutions for 2020:

  1. University of Florida
  2. University of Central Florida
  3. Florida International University
  4. Trine University
  5. Colorado State University Global Campus
  6. Arizona State University
  7. University of Illinois at Springfield
  8. Northeastern University
  9. Texas Tech University
  10. Pennsylvania State University

Online Study Pros

Now, that you know more about the online educational system, the most popular resources, and how are online classes taught, let’s say a few words about the benefits you can get.

Clearly online learning has lots of advantages. Here are the most significant ones:

  • Accessibility;
  • Flexibility;
  • Access to the world’s top instructors and materials;
  • Lower costs;
  • The possibility to study at your own pace;
  • The possibility to acquire a new profession quickly;
  • The possibility to combine studies with work;
  • The possibility to develop in step with the times;
  • And many others!

Tips For Online Learning Success

Although online learning has plenty of benefits, don’t think that it’s going to be a piece of cake. Not only studying is always hard by default, but self-learning is much harder as it takes stronger self-discipline and organization.

If you are up for the challenge, here are a few tips on how to study online and succeed:

  • Choose the course and resource wisely.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Figure out the technical or other requirements of a chosen course and ensure that you have everything needed.
  • Ensure a stable Internet connection.
  • Create a comfortable and productive study space.
  • Define your objectives and set attainable goals.
  • Create a study plan and always stick to your schedule.
  • Take breaks during your study sessions.
  • Stay active and engaged during classes, and participate in discussions.
  • Find ways to stay motivated.
  • Reward yourself for successes and attained goals.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it!

Study Online And Succeed With Ease

Hopefully, this article will help you understand what is online education, how it works, what benefits it has, and how one should approach it to succeed.

In a conclusion, it is worth noting that online education is just as responsible and sometimes challenging as a regular one. You have to be motivated and aimed at success, to reach your goals. And we are here to help you! One of the best tips we can give to online learners is not to be afraid to ask for help when they hit the wall. Need some extra help with figuring out a new topic? Then, don’t hesitate and hire one of our expert tutors, and we will help you succeed!

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