How do online courses work
Unsafe circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic seem like continuing to suppress traditional face-to-face education. Even those folks who have never considered getting an education through the Internet, gazing at online eLearning platforms now wondering how they really work. On one hand, online learning still appears like a rather unconventional way of receiving knowledge and gaining credentials. On the other hand, an actual convenience and (more importantly) cost-efficiency of online education beats negative connotations and bias that some people feel towards it.
Today even a majority of largest universities and businesses recognize online learning as one of the most helpful and efficient ways of study. Class Central, #1 search engine for online courses, estimated that since 2017 over 81 million people took their first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to benefit from a new learning approach. According to information delivered by revenue services, by 2020 e-learning is expected to bring a profit of over 30 billion dollars. And this number will only go up and grow with time.
What to expect from online learning anyway?
This is almost one of the trendiest questions today. This question has been asked by many of those who thought about kicking back to school and finishing a degree. Or just simply shift to something new and learn skills to find more ways to earn money. We would say that at least two things you can expect from taking classes online right off the bat – flexibility and high quality of education.
If you’re looking for information that would help you develop your working knowledge about online education and how it really works, read this blog post and try some online courses. Reinforce your knowledge with practice and enroll in online classes to see if online education will work for you. But let’s talk more about studying online and why it is a good fit for nearly anybody.
Are online schools really harder than public schools?
Before making any conclusions about whether online schools are tougher compared to traditional classes, let’s go over some basics of online education. Let’s talk about what online education actually is and how online classes work.
The main distinguishing feature of online education is, of course, distance learning. Any online class will require a good Internet connection and a set of digital devices to sign in and access web applications or any particular program used by eLearning platforms. If you take classes online, you won’t have to set your foot in the door of the traditional classroom with its set schedules and attendance requirements. Typically, online instructors work around your scheduler where you’ll be the one who sets up your own hours for study. If you purchased a series of video and audio lectures, you’ll be studying at your own pace and whenever is convenient for you. For example, all online courses on the Grinfer online platform have lifetime access, so you’ll be able to access not only the study materials but all the updates that come with it. Basically, once you purchased an online course, you will be receiving all the updates for this course instantly. That way you’ll always be up-to-date on the topic of your interest.
But apart from all advantages of taking classes online, students need to realize that the process of study is just as hard as with any other college course. Another challenge is that distance education requires a great deal of self-motivation. If your goal is to succeed – stay motivated and disciplined while taking online classes.
Here is a list of most common digital resources and online materials you will be dealing with while taking classes online:
- pre-recorded lectures (video & audio files)
- eBooks and digital journals
- Textbooks and tutorials in digital formats
- online quizzes
- live Q&A sessions and interviews
- discussion forums
In most cases, all eBooks and audio files are already included in the cost of a course and you don’t have to pay for them separately.
Can online school start anytime?
The availability of online school is dependent on whether you’re a degree-seeking or non-degree student. Since many traditional colleges and even top universities offer online degree programs, enrollment, and registration process is totally up to the scheduler that has been set up by those universities. Typically, any degree-seeking student has to go through the admission process and start classes during the given campus-based semester period. Of course, colleagues offer courses online to those students who are not after a specific degree. In this case, students are provided with certain registration instructions that have to be familiar with and follow through. Usually, it will require them to register through a different online portal which is separated from the platforms created for degree-seeking students.
An enrollment process with online eLearning platforms can start whenever an instructor is available if you decide to go for 1-on-1 online consultations. Or you can get access anytime if you purchased an on-demand course that has been created for viewing online. Anyway, it doesn’t matter whether you take a degree program or an individual course, you’ll be tested on a regular basis at certain intervals during the whole course of study. This is a common practice to make sure that you’re going at the right pace and understand all the topics covered. Also, it is a great way to reveal areas you have any problem with or recognize where you need to go back for reviewing an already learned material.
Some most common types of assessments used in online learning:
- Face-to-face discussions. Typically, this type of online learning activity implies participating in group debates. An online instructor picks a topic and assigns this topic to students for research. The participants of the debate will have to make posts on a given topic to demonstrate knowledge and discuss different points of view posted by their peers. The main goal of this approach is to engage students all together and share information that they’ve learned among each other. It might seem difficult for a start but no worries, with time and practice you’ll get a good hang of it.
- 1-on-1 individual assignments. This is the most popular and most commonly used approach that you will be dealing with while taking courses online. Each assignment will be carefully structured and developed by an online instructor. Once you receive a topic of the assignment, you’ll have to create a written response according to a given deadline and a minimum number of words needed for having your paper accepted.
- Online journal entry activities. This type of activity is very similar to the blackboard approach of online participation and particularly vary depending on the course you take. Basically, all you have to do here is to make regular updates providing prospective feedback on everything you learned so far. That way an instructor can get a good grasp on how you’ve been doing with your learning. Also, this is a good opportunity to see how you are progressing or whether you need support with anything. The trick with keeping journal entries is to be honest and genuine in answers and responses.
- Online tests and examinations. In most cases, tests or exams for online courses are set up and held through the Internet in the format of an open book or open note. Some learning platforms might require to carry them through with special protocols or software used for monitoring and preventing cheating.
Remember, cheating and plagiarism during online learning are just as little appreciated as with any traditional courses. Since the online technology is moving forward all the time, eLearning platforms are working hard to perfect anti-plagiarism software. Usually, instructors know how to make sure that all cheating will be omitted during the testing process, so the process of virtual examination online would adhere to the standards of traditional learning institutions.
Do employers take online college degrees seriously?
Even though you might feel strongly about taking a plunge and enrolling online but some doubts can still linger and that’s understandable. Some people can feel doubts that an online degree can bring them a better opportunity for employment. Some feel uncertain about taking classes online thinking that it won’t provide enough knowledge and skills to make them in demand on the job market.
However, the tendency job markets show at the present time demonstrates a rather strong alliance of businesses with online learning after all. The whole perception of degrees earned online has changed drastically and it is nearly the same as, let’s say, from 15 years ago. Recent research shows that online degrees are recognized by employers and, as of today, over 79% of applicants are getting hired with degrees and certificates received through online education.
A number of online graduates keep on growing each year and it is expected that it will continue to grow in the current unfortunate circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is an outline of major positives that employers see between the lines in your resume where it states that you earned your degree online:
- You are good with time management and setting your priorities;
- You are a self-motivated person who can achieve goals;
- You have strong collaboration skills and superior at communicating online;
- Your computer literacy is at a high or advanced level;
- You have a strong ability to absorb information and learn independently.
No doubt, old-fashion approaches in education are highly appreciated and work well, but the line that differentiates online education from campus-based learning becomes vaguer. Today, it doesn’t really matter whether you have an online diploma or degree from a brick-and-mortar college. Your skills and knowledge really matter to most employers who want to see good results and strong work ethics demonstrated by their staff.
How to provide even better support to online students?
Providing timely academic feedback and student support are two of the most important aspects of any educational process. No secret, some students are concerned that enrolling online won’t deliver the same degree of support they used to have while taking traditional courses. Online learning assumes the whole set of specific problems and issues students face once and awhile. So, every online university program or eLearning platform has a support team for answering students’ questions and concerns. Some online platforms provide services created specifically to deal with any kind of learning requests coming from students.
As an example, the Grinfer eLearning platform just launched 1-1 consultations (in addition to on-demand courses) with instructors as a part of its marketplace. The main purpose is to let users customize their learning process. Now, in addition to digital classes, learners can book individual consultations with instructors. That works for people who want an individual approach to the learning process, have specific goals, or questions unanswered that are not always revealed in virtual lessons.
How does it work? You simply browse consultants and find the one you like. Once you make your choice, pick time slots, and book a consultation! Once an instructor approves your request, you’ll jump on a face-to-face video session. The idea is simple – if you like the course you’ve taken but felt like you want to continue learning under the guidance of this particular teacher, you can start taking individual lessons to dig deeper into the subject. By working with an instructor face-to-face in an individual session, you’ll get a great chance to polish an existing knowledge and learn something new to advance it even further. All you need is to bring your enthusiasm and let your teachers help you achieve higher levels in whatever you learn.
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