The Benefits of Online Learning : Mr. Hore

We are all aware how fast technology has developed and progressed over the years and surprisingly online learning has grown in significance as an educational tool of 21st century. Online education is variously termed as ‘distance education’, ‘e-Learning’, ‘online learning’, ‘blended learning’, ‘computer-based learning’, ‘web-based learning’, ‘virtual learning’, ‘tele-education’, ‘cyber learning’, ‘Internet-based learning’, ‘distributed learning’, ‘M-Learning’, etc. In the present era, electronic communication has become increasingly common due to which educational institutions are offering flexible learning opportunities to make learning more accessible without having to juggle with study, work and family life. After face-to-face sessions, classes are generally replaced by online activities and discussions.

There is a growing need of main course offerings. They are both cost effective and allow individuals access to training content anywhere and anytime. Content is accessible 24/7 on any web enabled device through a website or application. Courses allow increased learner engagement and automatic retention in the form of recording or re-visiting the sessions and offer quality content in a digital format. These training methods are customised as per the training requirement of the learner. One can do ten different courses online. Classroom environment and time limit is no longer the constraint. One can choose anyplace that helps a person to learn the material to gain greater understanding of concepts. Too long time for a particular course also may not be a requirement. It boosts the career advancement opportunities since most careers are dictated by advancing higher education accomplishments, so one can take only the courses that are needed to get a promotion by upgrading knowledge and skills through online learning.

After online learning, one can opt for online quizzes and exams and can obtain the score/assessment immediately. This helps the learners to understand that there is always a live teacher, a forum, so learners know that they are accountable and have someone who can help them. Online PRACTICE can be really pleasurable. Practicing a skill previously learned online is often more fun than doing a worksheet. Many programs and puzzles offer online practice. These programs generally come with an advantage of being able to select the area(s) to practice from. Knowledge and self-discipline develops along with the time management skills encouraging the learner to take more responsibility. It is a powerful way to learn.

Online learners benefit greatly from online learning communities because of their connectivity with one another i.e. student-instructor interaction; student-student interaction; and student-content interaction. They are able to share knowledge and fulfil common goals, which can reduce students’ dropout rates. The relationship and interaction between the instructor and learners and among peer learners can increase student performances and their satisfaction of the course. The learners can receive online support and help from their peers, and at the same time they can add their knowledge base through their interactive actions.

The universal use of web sites has provided opportunities for development of online communities and groups. Emailing, conferencing, chatting, working together via Google drive, Google docs, Google hangout, drop box, Facebook, Twitter, etc have been widely used in online classrooms. Universities offer different University based Online courses and degrees & diplomas to enrolled individuals. To increase the accessibility to higher education by larger segments of the public, the model of Massively Open Online Courses/Classes (MOOC) has become popular. In MOOC, university based and corporate-based online offerings are given to users who are self-motivated individuals and whose programs are based on their learning goals, prior knowledge and skills, and similar interests. The rise of online-learning has helped to encourage students to take on more responsibility for their own acquisition of knowledge.

India is one of the few countries where lot of people got to access internet directly on their smart phones; thanks to the boom in telecom sector and availability of unlimited data plans by telcos. We have witnessed content explosion over last decade or so. Students from remote areas can now earn certifications, diploma and even degree courses offered by prestigious institutions across the country. In a remote area, every mobile phone with internet connection has the potential to create wonders if the parents are able to download and utilise relevant resources for their school-going children. This will definitely create level playing field for the students studying in rural areas compared to their urban counterparts. It will not only make them smarter and knowledgeable but also competitive enough to take on the challenges posed in the academic and corporate world.

With the much needed parental support, the kids will be able to enhance their skills at a rapid pace. This will automatically put pressure back on the teachers who will have to stay up-to-date to match up to the wits of their students. Thus, all the stakeholders i.e. parents, teachers and students can work in unison and make full use of online learning system for the upliftment of the society.

To sum it up, we all remember the archer ‘Eklavya’ from Mahabharata who was believed to be as adept as Arjuna. Al though, he never had the luxury of Dronacharya’s teachings, he become an epitome of self-learning by achieving mastery over the years. The whole idea of proactive self-study aided by Online learning will put the student in driver’s seat, who will achieve conceptual understanding, application of those concepts and become an expert of that subject over a period of time. This process will also ensure higher retention of the learnt concepts, knowledge and ideas in the memory of the student. Hence, online learning is certainly the future of pedagogy.