Do you have a real world education or are you an old hippie? While it has been apparent that there has been a massive evolution in how we learn, one thing hasn’t changed: school is where you learn the basics.
Why Is Online Learning Used
Let’s start with a quick summary of online learning’s longevity: It’s been around a long time. The idea of using the internet to make a college degree more accessible and give students a wide range of course options got popularized in the late 1990s with the Web 2.0 movement. The internet became something of a magnet for many courses, including those in engineering, art, accounting, law, healthcare, publishing, early childhood education, psychology, economics, foreign languages, linguistics, education, zoology, and computer science. But since 1996 the number of internet-connected people has skyrocketed to more than 5 billion worldwide, reaching 84 percent of the world’s population this year, according to the UN. With so many students across the globe having access to the internet, online learning is becoming the de facto choice for many.
1. Due to Unique Construction & Cost Structure
Since there’s a potential of many people taking online classes, it inevitably comes at a higher cost. Now that we’re talking about a subscription business model and a university body with a physical address, there’s a few more costs that need to be thought about – distribution and delivery systems. As you’ve probably noticed already, with online courses, you’re not buying a course on the web, but instead you’re buying a learning copy. This can vary by course, school, and even company. And as we head into a world with fast bandwidth, connectivity, and the cloud, things are only getting more and more expensive.
For example, if you’re a graduate of Williams College or Smith College and you’re getting a paid online course, you’re going to pay about $2,200 annually; that’s a pretty hefty price tag. If you’re an undergraduate who gets a professional online course for $1,000, then you’re paying $1,500 annually. This has a lot to do with the availability of the content on the internet and the fact that the prices have to be justified by an enrollment fee, and that money is ultimately being generated through advertising.
In the case of online institutions, the revenue is an investment to improve the services in the future.
2. Risk / Rejection Criteria
Even if someone’s willing to pay to attend a school like a university, there’s still a concern about what the quality of that school’s students is. It’s extremely common for institutions to only accept undergraduate candidates; it’s more difficult for them to give lesser credentials, the corresponding degrees, to some overseas students. It’s not unheard of to see only ten or even one percent of students who applied for a degree actually enrolling in college. A university is now more focused on institutional quality, not just individual equity in chance of getting a degree.
3. Tech Terms & Aspects
Another element to consider when it comes to online learning is the nature of the materials. Some online courses do put an emphasis on using technology in a way that’s currently lacking in the classroom-environment. For example, it can help build camaraderie by blending online and live lessons, and working together in groups and online forums.
Some instructors are even teaching online courses in the traditional classroom setting (once again, that’s a risk for students).
Online tuition isn’t cheap – and that’s because online universities (or institutions for that matter) have to make sure they maintain quality, and that includes bringing in in-person faculty. And while it’s quite common, some degree-requiring courses do charge an upfront fee in order to apply for or conduct the license process, meaning it doesn’t necessarily save you tuition money.
Here’s the big takeaway though: if you can afford to, you can take a course online.