Enrollment rates in online education classes are still climbing, despite the fact that overall higher education enrollment rates are declining. The Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017 shows a “year-to-year increase of 226,375 distance education students, a 3.9 percent increase over rates recorded the previous two years.”
Why? According to David Daniels, managing director of Higher Education Services, Pearson, it is because “distance learning offers flexible, yet rigorous education opportunities that provide individuals with access to the in-demand skills needed to achieve their career goals.”
There are many advantages to online education compared to traditional learning. Cornerstone University’s recent blog post by Trevor McCready outlines some of those advantages, including:
Low cost — A good amount of money can be saved with online courses. Instead of paying all the extra fees that come along with traditional on-campus learning (like “cafeteria meals, activity fees. . . and a host of other random expenses”), if a student is not looking for all the extras, why not just pay for the university credits instead?
Ability to be self-paced — Students can afford to be self-paced. They can fit their work, home, and generally busy schedules around the classes they are attending online.
Flexibility to attend schools far away — Online classes can allow students to attend any school they want to that has online classes available. If someone wants to go to a university in the Northeast, but he or she lives in California, this can be done as long as the person has a good wifi connection. As also pointed out by Cornerstone University’s blog post, online classes can afford a person a lot of time to travel if he or she desires.
Freedom to work as much as needed — People can work. They can work part-time, full-time, two jobs or whatever they want to because with online classes, students can take exams at 2 AM if needed. Many higher education attendees today are adult learners who must support their families. Online learning is sometimes the only way they can manage to do so.
Learn technical skills — The world we live in is very dependent on technology. It drives many aspects of our lives, some that we don’t even think about. Taking online courses could help someone who isn’t particularly tech savvy, allowing them to learn more about computers while learning about their course materials.
There are countless other advantages to taking online classes, which is why the number of online course attendees is steadily climbing. Online learning is certainly past the trend phase; the affordability, quality of learning and convenience have been attracting students since its creation.