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Why Choose Online Education?

graduate-girl-smiling-4Online learning has been around for many years, in fact, The Open University (OU) in the United Kingdom was pretty much the first organisation to take education out of the college and university campuses, and allow people, many with work and time constraints, to study at their own pace, in the comfort of their own home.

Of course when the OU started out, there was no online, the World Wide Web was not even a thought in the mind of it’s creator Tim Berners-Lee. Everything was sent to the new ‘distance learning’ student in huge packages, with text books, study guides, pretty much everything you needed to get your degree, without hardly ever stepping over the threshold to an actual learning establishment.

You can still get courses that package up the guides, and post them to your home, and sure, there is something pretty nice about having all that stuff turn up, glossy and new, but even the OU has left the paper-based learning experience back with The Ramones, The Carpenters and Spud-U-Like.

Learning has become ultra accessible in recent years, with more and more platforms being set up to deliver online education via an internet connection. Never in history has education been available to so many people at the click of a button. Even some of the top universities around the world are offering their higher education modules for free. Sure, you might not actually get the degree for free, but to some extent, who cares?

It is possible to become expert in a topic of your choice, without ever having to set foot outside your front door, or paying a penny, except for your broadband connection….and come on, that’s not even seen as a luxury any more, it’s a requirement 🙂

Even in the 3rd world, people are able to learn via online classrooms, virtual teachers (no, no, they actually exist, but just not in the same location as the student. Takes me back to that ghastly 80’s flick The Lawnmower Man…remember that? Best forgotten!) With a mobile phone and a little time on your hands, almost anyone, anywhere can learn, become valuable, and have the opportunity to change their lives. We need to help the 3rd world of course, but the technology exists for sure.

So, you’ve likely decided that online learning might have something to offer you, but are perhaps considering college or university. Don’t let me put you off that track if it’s what you REALLY want to do, but know that you don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn what you need to learn, to become valuable to the world, to start you own side business that might become your main source of income in the future.

Here are a few great reasons why online education, e-courses, whatever you want to call it, are so valuable.

Multiple Learning Options

Online course providers know that they have to move with the times, to find ways of helping students with differing learning preferences to learn effectively. And not everyone wants (or needs) a formal degree, certification, or a badge with a picture of Bill Gates in a mankini when they become a Microsoft Certified Professional (although Bill certainly knows how to wear the thing).

You can now do a full degree, a part degree, workplace and vocational training, or just learn for the fun of it (the best option?). There are also hybrid courses with a mixture of online and on-campus study, for those of you who need to get your hands-on experience.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum, there is an online option to suit you. Most are multi-media, some people learn well from books, some like audio, others video, it’s all available.

Work And Learn At Your Own Pace

We are all busy to some extent these days. The formal 9-5 education just doesn’t work any more, probably hasn’t for half a century. Online learning allows you to work at your own pace, when you can make the time. On a personal level, I love downloading Mp3s to my phone, and listening to them whilst I’m in the car, or at the gym. It’s a great use of time, and I feel that I am getting double the ‘bang for my buck’, a six pack AND an education at the same time.

It’s now easy to source your education from other countries, in different time zones. Email, Skype, group conferencing makes it super easy to connect with other students and teachers. Online appraisal and exams can be carried out when YOU want to do them, and checked and marked automatically.

Taking multiple short courses in complimentary subject areas allows you to get things completed quickly and move on, not feeling like you are stuck in the middle of organic chemistry for an eternity, a fate worse than death?

You choose what you want to learn, you enrol in a short course that may only take a few hours to complete, and over time, the world becomes ‘your oyster’.

Cost Effective

As I mentioned, traditional education can be costly, you could buy a modest house for the cost of some degrees. But if that’s not what you want, you can study the same modules for free, or join one the online education platforms and pay a small price for a course that you can learn in a couple of days.

Who knows, once you’ve taken a couple of course on Photoshop, you might decide that you REALLY like it, and want to take your education to another level, but what a great way of trying things out, finding your real interests and passions, BEFORE giving up on the modest house and heading off to college.

What To Consider

Sounds awesome doesn’t it, learn stuff in your own time? Yeah, well, we all know that to become really good at anything, there is a time commitment that needs to be adhered to. You can’t just buy the course, watch the first lesson, and then be golden. But, it’s what many people do. I dread to think how many courses end up stuck at “You’ve completed 2% of this course”?

Online education has revolutionised our ability to learn, but it still needs you to actually do it. But, I am convinced that, with the growing popularity of micro-courses, we are in a much better place to follow our passions, learn something useful, and create a life that excites us.


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