When I tell people that I graduated with a law degree by correspondence, they tell me that I’m extremely intelligent -considering that you don’t attend classes or liaise with fellow students on a daily basis. What I’m trying to get at is that online education isn’t a new fad, trend or innovation. Whilst the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT’s) is a huge stride forward, the concept of distance learning has been around for ages, perhaps ever since the age of dinosaurs:-). With origins in long distance correspondence via regular mail, online education has overcome the many challenges of distance learning and made it more interactive, expedient and, consequently, more affordable.
Why Online Learning: What Needs Does It Solve
The first -and most obvious reason- is that online learning overcomes the problem of distance. We all aren’t fortunate enough to stay close to a university or college. Most of us have to travel far from our hometowns just to have access to higher learning. For the unprivileged few who remain, that’s a door to their future closed shut right before their eyes. However, with the growth of internet access, all one needs is a regular internet connection to gain a college education.
Having been born and raised in a 3rd world country, I’m no stranger to the apparent lack of variety and depth in the courses and qualifications offered at institutions of higher education. You find that students obtaining exceptionally high grades at Advanced Level end up enrolling for general degrees that are pretty much an insult to their intelligence. And as if that wasn’t enough, the curriculum doesn’t have depth and is mostly predated. Online learning therefore offers students the variety that allows them to explore a vast and developed world well beyond their borders.
3. EASE OF ENTRANCE.
Mainly because neither is there competition for sitting space in university lecture halls, nor is there the issue of overworked lecturers. Online universities and colleges generally have less stringent entry requirements than regular universities. No TOEFL tests for undergrads or stressful degree grading for Masters or Doctoral studies. On top of that, mature entry has allowed even people in their 70-80’s to get professional qualifications.
International Developments In Online Education
Statistics don’t lie. According to The Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017 -which looks at statistics from 2015- over 6 million students were enrolled in an online college or university, taking at least one online course or more. Furthermore, public/state owned institutions lead the pack, enrolling more than 60% of said total.
These staggering statistics, however impressive, are just a drop in the ocean when you look at the strides online education has made in recent times. In the past 3 years, there has been an increase in institutions offering degrees and postgraduate studies rather than just short courses. But what is more telling is the 1 million reduction in on-campus students between 2012 and 2017, a sign that e-learning has truly transformed the nature of learning in the 21st century.
Popular Areas Of Study: Which Are The Top Niches Pursued By Students?
Apart from ICT, Computer Science, Programming and Internet Security, there are a number of niches that have grown in demand owing to globalisation. Examples that easily spring to mind are Tourism, E-commerce and Internet Marketing, Languages, Early Childhood Development, Anthropology and Culture Studies, Digital Art and Photography, Psychology, and E-learning itself, to name but a few.
This clearly shows a seismic shift from conventional areas of study previously seen in high esteem, like Accounting, Medicine, Pharmacy, Law, Engineering and Aviation, which are predominantly practical subjects that require real physical interaction between students and lecturers. Be that as it may, this isn’t to say that these areas are stagnant. The online platform has also helped such career professionals to access information on leading developments in other parts of the world. Which is why you also get international accreditation programs being offered by online learning institutions.
– Global reach
– Lower education costs
– Resource friendly
There’s no telling what the next big thing after e-learning will be, but the forecast looks sunny, with clear skies and no chances of rainfall:-).
With projections for the online education industry having been pegged at a whopping US$325 Billion by the year 2025, we can only expect this ‘industry’ to grow. What is perhaps the biggest challenge for this promising sector is resources. Students in the developing world lack basic resources, like computers and access to regular, high speed internet. But over and above, e-learning has changed the nature of learning in unique and commendable ways.