Why do people choose to learn online?

E-learning programs and online courses target students of all kinds and at all levels. Have you ever thought of why students may choose an online course rather than a classroom based course?

In my opinion common reasons why students may opt to take one or more online learning courses are:

Schedule conflicts – The time the course is offered or location it is being delivered may present conflicts with other important activities the person is following.

Availability – Course not offered at a physical educational institution locally. Course may also be full with no places left.

Homebound – Student may be homebound due to illness, problems with mobility, specific disabilities etc.

Cost – Online courses tend to be cheaper than the “normal” physically delivered courses since the provider can cut of various costs such as those related to use of premises.

Speed of delivery – Online courses often allow the student to choose the speed of learning, that is, the student has a say in deciding how long to go through the course and when to finish.

Customisation – The student can choose what to learn, in that he/she may skip parts already familiar and use the time to research on areas found to be more challenging in the course.

Can you think of anything else?

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8 thoughts on “Why do people choose to learn online?

  1. >Jason,I don't agree with the 'cost' option. I am doing a distance learning Masters degree and the cost is greater than that of the campus delivered version. I think the reason for this is that first of all you will be a student for a longer time, (in my case, the MSc degree will take 3 years while the campus delivered version just takes 1 year). Furthermore I think it is more cumbersome for tutors to provide assistance to users via email. Personally I find it much more frustrating to answer someone via email in formulating a decent reply when compared to giving an answer in class. The one which is not directly listed over there but is a major factor in my option of choosing distance learning is the full time job. I would find it difficult to stop working for a year and change my pretty expensive lifestyle. So this way I can still work and earn money and in the meantime do some study part time for some extra challenge.

  2. >I agree with all the advantages that Jason mentioned. They are what might attract someone to do an online course rather than a normal one. What I would like to add to the points mentioned are the following:-> I think online courses encourage participation from the student. In normal courses, sometimes a student chooses to take a passive role, especially if the number of students in the class is very large, or the teacher himself/herself might not allow interactivity. In online courses interactivity almost comes part and parcel.-> I also believe that besides self-pacing, already mentioned by Jason, is also the issue that one would learn more in less time. Sometimes in class the teacher ends up taking most of the lesson to answer student's difficulties, and some students might be wasting time because they already know the answer..for them it was not a difficulty in the first place.

  3. >@ ChristianI guess you are right, there might be online courses more expensive than their counterparts. However if we were to generalise I would still say that online courses are often cheaper than traditional ones. The reasons are various:- Online courses are especially easy to keep up-to-date because the updated materials are simply uploaded to a server. There is no requirement to reprint course books, manuals, notes etc.- It is less expensive to produce especially if you use modern course management software which greatly facilitates delivering online courses to large numbers of students. Traditional courses may be offered to more limited number of students.- Often for a course provider, a substantial amount of money is spent on providing and managing premises for lecturing and providing facilities such as libraries, computer laboratories, toilets, canteens etc. Online courses require none of these.

  4. >I forgot to also mention as a reason for choosing an online course:Any location and any time: People can work on their own time, any time, from work or from home or anywhere actually, all they need is a pc (or mac!) with an internet connection.

  5. >Interesting post Jason, I agree with what has been said above. In addition, I would like to share a thought – what if MCAST were to decide to start offering some of its normal full-time courses as online courses?Frankly, I think that it is quite an interesting proposition one should consider. The first reason is that it would be increasing the studying opportunities for people who for some reason cannot follow the course in the classroom. MCAST could also impose a nominal fee for following such a course which could generate enough funds to at least break-even the costs of creating and maintaining such a course design.What do you think about this?

  6. >@Andrew LukeL-idea tiegħek x'aktarx trendi ħafna – iżda naħseb li l-elearning għadu ma rnexxilux jinqata' kompletament mal-metodi tradizzjonali tat-tagħlim. Ma nafx, jista' jkun li jkollok kors kollu kemm hu virtwali? Naħseb ukoll li ftit li xejn hu possibbli speċjalment fl-isfera vokazzjonali. Wara kollox, f’kull qasam, it-taħlita jew it-tagħqida taż-żewġ metodi tat-tagħlim flimkien, tpatti għan-nuqqassijiet u l-iżvantaġġi ta’ xulxin.Ċertu assessjar prattiku naħseb li mhux faċli li jinbidel b’tali mod li jkun jista’ jseħħ mill-bogħod: il-kuntatt mill-qrib mal-lekċer jagħtik ċans tikseb dak li d-distanza ma ttikx. Min-naħa l-oħra naħseb li sistema online bħal din tkun tista’ tistandardizza b’iżjed kumdità il-korsijiet komuni tal-Istituti, u fl-istess waqt toffri l-faċilità ta’ backup tal-materjal tal-korsijiet li l-MCAST ikun xtara.

  7. >Distance Learning; A personal ExperienceSpeaking on a personal note, I chose to study through distance learning for the following reasons:1. The field of study I wanted to follow is not offered locally.2. Since I have a full time job, following a full time course is not possible.3. The freedom of giving your own pace to your studying.Through distance learning I followed two courses: A Diploma postgraduate level; and a Masters. I must admit that it was not cheap studying in this manner but convenient as I had access to follow a field of study I really wanted. I followed the diploma with an Australian institution and the Masters with an English institution. I do not hesitate to state that the support offered by both institutions was all the time forthcoming. No queries went unanswered. When I first decided to go on this venture of distance learning I was a bit hesitant for the simple reason I was afraid from the feeling of being too far away and alone. Fortunately this was not to be as communication was continuous. The study material offered was always of a high level. All assignments were promptly marked with valid feedback. Probably the level of information offered was much better than the kind of information offered in class. This is so because I think the distance learning student has to be guided more directly. I would like to note that the Australian institution made arrangements for me the sit for exams locally under the supervision of the University of Malta. I will definitely not hesitate to study again through distance learning. My pocket permitting.

  8. >I believe that people choose to learn on-line for one single reason that is TIME.Our society is now 'time poor' everyone wants to do a lot of things at once but they cannot find the time to do it! everyone wants everything NOW! In our case many of our students at MCAST are dropping out and choosing to continue their studies on-line because they don't have the time to do it during the day. This is mostly attributed to another factor MONEY as our students drop their studies due to money problems as they cannot live on the stipend alone so they have to go out and look for work. This is creating a big deficit in our educational system as many students are not continuing their studies during and post MCAST because they need money to live which in turn will leave them with no spare cash to buy an e-learning on-line course. And, most of the on-line courses held by foreign universities, if I may add, are very expensive!

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