Digital v/s Traditional Learning – Why Online Education is here to Stay
With the traditional-digital crossover point well behind us, the digital medium has become the most reliable information channel for users worldwide. The internet has taken over. According to a 2015 UN report, over 3.2 billion people are plugged into the world wide web. Assuming a minimum purchasing power for anyone who can afford broadband internet, that’s over 50% of the world’s consumers with healthy disposable incomes on a common, global platform.
For businesses, it’s a veritable goldmine. Never before in the history of commerce has there been an audience this vast, with diverse interests and deep pockets.
And they’ve been quick to adapt. More than a million companies today do business online, and nearly all brick-and-mortar establishments maintain a growing online presence.
The education industry is no different. Given the cost-effectiveness and reach of online learning, education providers have taken to the internet, offering courses and training online. But there has been a constant debate on which of the two holds more value to an employer and the student itself.
There was a time when online courses were considered inferior to traditional degrees. Employers rarely accepted online degrees as equivalent to a degree from a reputed brick-and-mortar university. But in today’s tech-driven world and the time constraints professionals operate under, online learning is taking the front seat.
As employers have come to expect more refined and up-to-date skills from employees, the demand for online degree programs has shot through the roof.
Let’s take a look at how online education measures up against traditional delivery modes.
Online learning is inherently flexible. For working professionals and people with a family, e-learning offers a way to juggle professional or personal commitments with study. Many online courses are customizable and have options to change the pace of learning.
Traditional learning is a lot more rigid. And unlike online courses, which can be accessed from anywhere, on any device, conventional courses are not designed for the mobile generation.
#2 Multimodal Delivery
Because e-learning courses are delivered over the web, students have the option to choose their style of learning. Online programs allow students to choose the way they learn most effectively. Learners who prefer self-study can choose from millions of self-paced courses in a variety of disciplines. For those who prefer a more classical approach, many online programs also offer live online training with remote instruction, replicating the feel of a face-to-face classroom and real-time learning.
#3 Interactive Nature
The common perception appears to be that online learning’s biggest downside is the lack of interaction with fellow learners. But recent technological advances have changed all that. Ed-tech majors like Simplilearn have made community interaction and social media an integral part of the online learning experience.
It’s clear digital learning is here to stay. And that brings us to the next question…
What do the Employers Think?
Reactions of employers to online degrees differs from field to field. Although the stigma attached to online learning isn’t completely gone, perceptions have undergone a sea of change in the last decade or so. Today, the view is that people most opposed to online degrees are the ones who are least familiar with them.
In 2010, the US Department of Education working off the findings of 45 studies, found that online learning has the same effectiveness as conventional learning.
That said, there may be certain fields where face-to-face degree programs are indispensable or have a significant advantage over online programs. A survey report from Public Agenda, 2013 found that 56% of respondent employers favour job applicants who have completed their degree in a classroom setting. In the same survey, however, 45% of employers felt that completing an online degree requires more discipline whereas 80% said online degrees provide opportunities for older students to obtain their college credentials.
Online learning can be a very rewarding experience. Not only does it allow students to continue education without having to give up their career, it also allows them to interact with other students around the world.
With so many factors to consider, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Taking living situation, learning style, and career goals into consideration will help you make a decision that fits your individual circumstances. But there is no question that online learning has caught up and even surpassed traditional learning on many metrics. So if you’re wondering whether that online program from an online training provider will add any value to your resume, the answer is an emphatic yes!
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