How Online Learning Works

Most people are amazed when they think about what college students learn in a year. It’s crazy to think about just how much time and effort goes into university education.

How Online Learning Works

Are you considering taking a new online course or two? With dozens of courses now available on the open learning landscape, learning is more accessible than ever before. Classrooms in the physical world are now being replaced by a world of online videos, podcasts, and interactive learning platforms like Coursera and Udacity, in which you’ll find experts lecturing, quizzing, and offering peer advice. Online learning allows students to easily make connections between their skills, concepts, and knowledge. Here are the five key differences between online and in-person learning, along with ways to navigate them in order to achieve your educational goals.

1. Online Learning Is Less Rigid

Online learning is less rigid than courses taken in the physical world. In-person coursework means you sit and listen to and take notes on a printed book, carefully choosing every detail. That’s not the case in online courses. You don’t have to analyze every lesson plan, outline a whole classroom lecture, or worry about whether the professor is missed your class. Just show up and learn. You can devote less of your time to studying than you might in the physical world, but you’ll come to rely on the results. Online students and experts alike also tend to see the same information in their everyday lives. From video games to work, online learning takes the concepts and the classroom environment where you are used to them.

2. Online Learning Encourages Open Communication

When you go to a classroom to learn, you’re more likely to discuss and interact with the teacher in more meaningful ways. And the professor can play a role in this interaction by being present. In online learning, peer learning thrives without a built-in teacher, which means more students are exposed to new ideas and viewpoints. They’re also less likely to feel intimidated. Online students also rarely feel like they’re being pushed into reading a text. Rather, they can dip in and out of content. In-person lectures also discourage this type of participation, which can make learning more difficult.

3. Online Learning Gives You Back Space

In-person teaching requires an in-person environment to make connections between classes and subjects. The online environment doesn’t require a faculty member’s presence to spark discussion, and this can give you the freedom to apply your own perspective to the topic at hand. Online learning can also provide an even wider scope to topics you cover and your personal aspirations to succeed in school. The best classroom, of course, is your own.

4. Online Learning Is More Productive

There are two primary benefits to taking online courses: time management and academic rigor. Online courses allow you to focus on absorbing information, and the time you spend on them can be more productive, leading to more satisfaction. Students also tend to finish their courses more quickly than in-person courses, typically completing their online courses in less than one semester.

5. Online Learning Translates to Better Career Prospects

Another benefit of online learning, one that may be important to you, is that it improves job prospects. A recent study from the European Commission found that after completing an online learning program, students are 34 percent more likely to be promoted to senior positions. Students are also more likely to have their degree reviewed by their employer or supervisor, which means they may have more leverage when it comes to negotiating a salary.

What should you know about online learning? If online courses are going to be part of your life long-term educational goals, make sure you’re familiar with the differences between online and in-person learning before you choose to enroll. Trusting your instincts while navigating the different environments may save you valuable time and energy.

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