Besides allowing you to attend class in your slippers, online studies provide an opportunity to take classes at universities around the world without having to relocate. Some programs offer flexible, self-paced courses that allow you to fit higher education into your work and family schedules. But there are many other advantages to furthering your education online.
No Location Requirement
Online, you can be a student nearly anywhere. Yale, Harvard, Oxford and the University of Tokyo are among the prestigious universities worldwide that offer online classes. But smaller universities and specialized technical schools also do so. Some offer hybrid online classes that you must pair up with on-campus attendance to fulfill learning requirements; other schools, such as DeVry and Arizona State University, have full online degrees.
As an online student you will not contend with traffic, finding a campus parking spot or spending money on gasoline, fares or other travel expenses. Attend class from anywhere you have access to a computer and the Internet, be it your living room or the cafeteria at work. Some quick figuring on the Govloop Telework Calculator indicates you could save about $275 a year on gasoline alone if you did not travel 20 minutes to school and home again five days a week.
Ensures All Enrollees a Spot
Physical space does not limit class size. Sure, some schools limit registration for online courses so that instructors can manage their grading workload or to ensure continued success in corresponding on-campus classes. However, the number of seats available in a classroom will never dictate that limit. On-demand classes that do not require manual grading typically have no class size maximum.
Because you do not have a commute, you can apply some extra time to other tasks -- perhaps washing the dishes or studying. The Govloop Telework Calculator estimates you could save 174 hours a year by eliminating that 20-minute commute.
Provides Flexible Approaches
Whether you are looking for telepresence -- a video conference-style presentation -- or on-demand sessions, there are programs designed to fit many lifestyles and learning needs. Consider if online classes requiring on-campus meetings would benefit your education or if a fully online program would be right for you.
Online classes allow you to balance work, family and education without as many disruptions. Asynchronous sessions allow you to view on-demand material whenever your schedule permits, as many times as you need; this can be during your lunch break or after your children are asleep.
Some schools offer dynamic learning plans that track completion of each component, including watched videos, submitted assignments and completed tests. Delivery systems are becoming just as engaging as the content, providing a clear path from the beginning of a class to the end.
You will not need to squint from the back of a classroom to see the instructor or slides. You -- and all other enrolled students -- share front-row seats to the presentation.
Supportive of Multiple Learning Styles
Some presentations use multiple sensory delivery methods to appeal to different learning styles. Online classes may offer documents, video, audio and other resources to present information in the formats that appeal to you and enhance your learning experience. Research and view demonstration classes to find a school that provides the formats you want.
The number of collaborative online tools grows every day, and online classes use them to provide additional learning advantages. These tools put access to additional study resources at your fingertips and enable students and instructors to interact and work together to complete projects. Discussion boards, email, wikis, shared bookmark lists, chat rooms, video conferencing and virtual libraries are just a few social learning tools available in online classes.
- Yale: Online Courses at Yale
- Harvard Extension School: Online Courses at Harvard
- Arizona State University: Online Degree Programs
- PG&E: Online Classes FAQ
- Ferris State University: Why Can't All Students Enroll at Any Time for an Online Course?
- Southeast Missouri State: Online Class Formats
- The American Journal of Education: Success in Distance Education -- Do Learning Styles and Multiple Formats Matter?
- Marili Forastieri/Photodisc/Getty Images