Online learning provides limitless educational possibilities. It opens up doors for people that otherwise may not have access for any number of reasons. Online education has the following benefits:
Customizable – Students can choose from programs offered from any institution to study topics that they have an interest in and that will be applicable to them in their careers. Students can choose from their own institution, if online options are available, or seek a Letter of Permission to choose a course offered at another institution to be counted towards their degree. For me personally, I was able to choose a program of interest for me that wasn’t offered at any local institution. Had this online learning opportunity not been available, I would have either enrolled in a program that wasn’t exactly what I wanted, or not pursued a MEd degree.
Accessible – As long as students have access to adequate technology (computer, Internet), online learning breaks down barriers that can exist for students. Students that were once geographically isolated can now participate. Students that could not participate due to disabilities now have more opportunities. I am currently working in Services for Students with Disabilities, and online courses have provided great opportunities for our students that have been diagnosed with several types of disabilities. Students that are deaf or hard of hearing can participate in discussions through typed Discussion Boards. Students that suffer from anxiety, including social anxiety and fear of public speaking, feel more comfortable participating in online courses due to the degree of anonymity afforded by online learning.
Flexible – Online learning allows students to balance education, work, family, etc. Assignments, readings, and other course work can be completed on their own schedule. Having a full time job, two kids (and another on the way), a relationship, friends, life… I am able to balance everything with my education because I can complete my readings once the kids are in bed, do my assignments on the weekends, do some research on my lunch break, etc. Traditional face-to-face courses just weren’t an option for me as I could not commit to sitting in a course for 3 hours a week during the day. Without the flexibility of online learning, a post-grad degree may not have been an option for me.
These are just a few of the benefits afforded by online learning. The list goes on, but to keep within the limits of this blog assignment, I chose those that were most important to me as a student. I am very greatful for the online learning opportunity provided to me by the MEd online program through the UofC. I hope that the UofC, as well as other institutions, continue to expand their online learning opportunities. I think that we, by taking online courses and educating ourselves about online learning, are helping to make sure that this continues to happen.