Why Use Online Learning

Despite a booming economy, traditional higher education is struggling to keep up with the demand for programming skills. The traditional education model is, as it stands, geared towards preparing students for an all-encompassing world of work with a typical four-year degree.

@imzacharygordon

Online learning came of age on the Blackboard site. How did it grow up? Then on more modern, virtual platforms, such as Google and YouTube, and… well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

When Edmodo launched in 2006, hundreds of thousands of students used its online meeting tools. There were no strict resources available for ed-tech courses. In those days, the focus was on virtual teams of real students.

The term “online learning” was not well known, according to Ken Booth, chief business officer at V.me, who served as Edmodo’s COO from 2012 to 2013. Since 2013, he has served as chief architect of edtech services for V.me’s one million learners.

Dr. Nicholas Pruss, professor of educational technology and communications at The Ohio State University in Columbus, has been studying ed-tech offerings, and he agrees that the advent of online learning is an ongoing trend that has morphed.

For example, “It’s always moving forward.”

So what’s changed in the past decade that leads to widespread usage of online learning in educational institutions?

It all boils down to one thing: Technology, according to Booth.

His point: “With every iteration, technology changes how we view teaching and learning.” This constant evolution allows educators to adapt to change, and students are the winners.

According to John Morville, professor and the director of the Learning Technologies Project at San Diego State University, technology gives educators the flexibility to handle classes entirely online.

“Technology opens the door to courses that would not even have existed a decade ago,” he says.

Here are some ways that technology is changing the face of online learning:

Technology makes it easier to test. Before, taking online classes was difficult due to multiple set of tests and grading policies. More instructors and schools today offer technology to streamline the assessments and control the data.

Tech allows students to be closer to professors. Rather than look outside the university for more opinions and info, students can take the discussions to their phones and smart devices.

Teachers have more time to teach. “Learning is a 24/7 activity for our professionals,” says Morville. “They are able to spend more time in the classroom, which enables them to accomplish a greater number of classes per year.” This also means better learning outcomes.

Technology allows teachers to make better use of resources. For many faculty members, the technology gives them the ability to monitor student progress and track the use of materials. Morville also notes that advances in technology make this easier for instructors.

Technology gives instructors better insight into student satisfaction. While the traditional approach was to receive anonymous feedback, the availability of feedback during actual class time now allows professors to take action before problems arise.

Technology improves content and interaction. This change allows universities to create courses that use multiple content types. These courses can develop in different ways depending on the needs of the classroom. For example, students may want to build websites for their course, while others may prefer creating videos. Or maybe others want to create new content entirely. With so many options, technology gives instructors the freedom to design a course according to the needs of the course.

All these changes allow students to spend more time with their professors. This is why SoCal University of Science and Technology, in Chino Hills, Calif., has embraced online learning. The school has 20,000 registered students, and thousands of these students use the online tutoring and study tools.

Online learning as we know it continues to evolve. Its impact extends beyond the classroom. It has been an incredibly important tool for educators and students alike.

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