The Factors That Drive the Demand for Online Education

by Jackie M. Pelegrin, Demand Media

As the demand for online education continues to grow in the 21st century, many students have discovered it is possible to obtain a high-quality degree online from an accredited institution. According to a 2013 study by the Babson Survey Research Group, 32 percent of all students in 2011 took at least one online course, which has increased 12.4 percent from five years ago. Chances are you know someone who has taken online courses or has graduated with an online degree. As you consider enrolling in online courses or a degree program, it is important to consider the reasons you want to learn online.

Flexibility

Typically, online courses offer more open enrollment periods than face-to-face courses and allow students to attend during the times that are best for them. According to Walden University, the online courses offered at the university allow you to “Enjoy a high-quality learning experience while leveraging greater flexibility and convenience through an online education." It is important for you to know how flexible each online course or program is before you consider enrolling, so that you will understand exactly what kind of time commitment is expected for you to be successful.

Convenience

Having the ability to log into your online course and complete it when, where and how you want to is a good motivator for students to consider when enrolling in an online program or course. Online education allows more students to be able to work and pursue an education simultaneously in ways that may not be possible in a traditional college format. According to a 2010 article written by eLearning News, “This convenience factor is motivating many people who never got their college education to finally pursue a degree.”

Cost

One of the best advantages of pursuing an online education is the ability to save money over the high cost of attending a traditional college. Due to the rising costs of tuition each year, students are taking advantage of the cost savings provided by online colleges. The U.S. Department of Education found that the average cost of tuition for public four year or above colleges from fall 2010 through spring 2011 increased 15 percent. In addition to tuition cost savings, there are several other factors that drive the demand for online education, such as money saved from not having to drive to relocate or drive to class, not having to pay to stay in on campus or for a meal plan, and not having to pay for parking or activities fees, or a number of other costs associated with in-person education.

Online Collaboration

Online courses typically provide students with the ability to collaborate with their peers and instructors in ways that can be difficult to duplicate in face-to-face classrooms. For example, if you are enrolled in a face-to-face English literature college course that meets for one hour, three days a week, and there are 30 students in the class, it is difficult for so many students and the instructor to engage in meaningful conversations each week. However, with online courses, not only do you have the ability to interact with many of the students in the class, but you are also able to have deeper conversations with those students and the instructor. According to eLearning News, “As an online student, you will have the ability to communicate with people from all over the world.”

About the Author

Jackie Pelegrin resides in Phoenix, Arizona. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from University of Phoenix and a Master of Science degree in instructional design and technology from Walden University. Due to her education and professional experience in education, she currently writes education-related articles.

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