Thanks to the pandemic, many aspects of daily life have had to move online. This includes education, where students of every age experienced virtual classes and e-learning for the first time.
Despite restrictions having eased in many countries around the world today, online learning is still going strong, and will likely be popular far into the future. After all, there are many benefits that can be obtained from a virtual-learning session compared with a traditional classroom setting.
Here are five of them.
1. Anytime, anywhere
One of the biggest benefits of e-learning is it removes the need for students to come together in a physical space. All you need to teach is a small space, a laptop, and a webcam.
With everything online, there is also no need to commute to the location of your class. All you need is to turn on your computer.
Then there’s the global advantage: teachers in Switzerland, for example, could easily give lectures to students in Singapore or Senegal. This not only makes things more convenient for students; it also means teachers can enhance their career prospects by demonstrating their skills and ability to an international audience.
2. Cost-effective, environmentally friendly
As online learning means students and teachers don’t need to travel to schools or centres, it reduces expenses for such things as petrol, parking charges, and vehicle maintenance.
Less commute time also benefits the environment. A study by the Open University of Britain showed that online distance learning consumes an average of 90% less energy and produces 85% fewer carbon-dioxide emissions per student compared with conventional face-to-face courses.
Most online classes also use digital study materials and websites instead of traditional textbooks and worksheets. This cuts down the use of paper and other resources.
3. Technological mastery
Through e-learning, students have to become familiar with using laptops, webcams, microphones, and video-conferencing programs. This increases their technological knowledge and encourages them to develop soft skills that will come in useful in future.
The same principle applies to teaching. Educators have to learn how to conduct their classes with methods that appeal to both online and physical learners, which encourages them to sharpen their teaching skills and be at the top of their game.
Meanwhile, those of today’s generation who are already used to doing things online can actually gain other aspects from e-learning. Research by The International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning revealed that self-paced online learning increases student satisfaction and reduces stress.
4. Learning efficiency
One problem frequently faced by traditional offline courses is student retention, as many academic centres have to deal with dropout rates.
With e-learning, this is less of an issue. According to the Research Institute of America, online classes have increased retention rates by 25-60%, compared with only 8-10% for traditional courses, as students have more control over their learning process and greater accessibility.
The same research also concluded that learning a topic through virtual means takes 40-60% less time compared with in a classroom setting.
Studies by IBM, on the other hand, discovered participants could absorb up to five times more information during online-learning sessions using multimedia content, compared with conventional face-to-face courses.
5. Variety and flexibility
Another benefit of online learning is that it is not constrained to the same kind of limits as traditional learning.
With e-learning, the student is able to choose from a wide variety of topics, effectively creating a highly personalised programme. This also helps them inculcate positive habits such as self-discipline.
Online learning also allows for more specialised, in-depth topics that might not be covered in schools or other educational centres.
In short, with all manner of technological advances at your fingertips, online learning is more powerful and efficient than ever.
This article was written by Terence Toh of ReSkills.com, a local online education platform aiming to make education affordable and accessible for all. Its ‘OnLive’ classes for adult learners are conducted by qualified and experienced coaches from all around the region.