Why Is Online Learning The Way Of The Future?

Social and eco benefits of online learning

Slowly, but surely online education is impacting our society. Thanks to popularisation of technology, we are shifting closer to online education. This is happening on such a massive scale around the world, that the Sloan Consortium is partnering with some higher education and inter-governmental organisations to produce the Global Online Higher Education Report (GlobalOHER), “the first-ever research initiative focused on the global impact of online learning.” To cater this growing need some universities even offer masters programmes that allow prospective graduates to complete degree programs faster, while simultaneously working on their careers.

A more educated population equals more equalised and balanced society, where “equal opportunities” is not an empty promise just on paper. In his book Education Transformation Ron Packard raises interesting questions about the particular ways technology provides meaningful educational alternatives, especially for less financially fortunate students. A pioneer in education technology Carlos Ortiz believes that technology also offers “the diversity of learning styles, putting the student back at the centre of teaching and learning. In this sense, technology is a catalyst for the democratisation of education.”

But while education is one of the largest sectors of the growing world’s economies, this technology has not yet had the impact we anticipated. As with healthcare, removal of waste, transport and other civil services, education lags behind sectors like consumer goods, service and manufacturing in taking advantage of the yield gains and disruptive effects of the so called knowledge society, praised by the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force. So it is rather sad that those technological advances are yet to permeate the one sector that is most crucial to preparing the global society for the challenges and opportunities of this knowledge society.

Benefits of online learning

Rise of education level and more equalised society, is only one benefit, however. Here are some more key benefits, which transform the way people learn and develop: quicker delivery of knowledge; significantly lesser financial burdens on students, their families and the companies sponsoring online courses; independent and much more effective learning strategies; better integration of service-learning, been proven to help earn better money throughout career; and of course, lower environmental impact.

In article we focus on a better learning and environmental impact.

Faster and more personalised learning

According to Kineo, at a time when change is faster than ever, “a key advantage of online learning is that it has quicker delivery cycle times than traditional classroom-based instruction”. In fact, research shows that online degrees and courses require at least 25 to 60% less learning time unlike traditional courses.
This is due to various factors, including lesser time used for starting and finishing classes or any learning session as well as for travelling to and from classes and training events; flexibility which accommodates each student’s own pace of learning, making the pace of the group completely irrelevant; independency which means that students can focus on elements of a programme they need to work more on skipping what they already know, if necessary.

Universities and other training institutions also benefit from online learning, since they require less logistical and administrative resources, they can be rolled out much quicker and with greater financial efficiency.

Happier planet

Online learning provides a healthy alternative to the paper-based learning and testing of regular classrooms. It is a highly effective way for educational institutions and companies to considerably decrease their carbon footprint.

A research by the Open University found that “on average, the production and provision of distance learning courses consumed nearly 90% less energy and produced 85% fewer CO2 emissions per student than conventional campus-based university courses.”

The key areas in which online learning lowers an organisations’ environmental impact are as follows:

  • Reducing deforestation by eliminating of the need for paper, thus saving more trees
  • Saving energy by reducing of the need for a campus facilities and the accompanying equipment maintenance and running cost
  • Preventing pollution by reducing the travel and accommodation requirements associated with undertaking and providing a course

 

Watch this space! We are preparing a list of Top 10 Best Green E-Courses for business students.

About the Author Jess Nielsen

Jess has spent years travelling the world full-time. Nothing else comes close to the reaches of this emotive activity...

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