Technology is making learning much more dynamic — through the use of online learning.
In early education classrooms, young students engage with technology from day one.
Just 15 years ago, a student may not have used the internet until they reached middle or high school. Now, information technologies are integrated into libraries. As students age, K-12 programs introduce new technologies and ways to learn. These methods of learning make the experience much more hands-on.
From the get go, students today are introduced to technological learning, and it’s shaping the way educational curriculum is formatted and presented. The technological transition in learning has also greatly effected higher education as well.
No method of education has had a greater impact on students than online learning.
Online learning is a method of engaging with education in a digital space. It’s having a big impact on students across the world, and in a good way.
Education Goes Digital
The same benefits to learning at any level of experience are now online, ready to help those who desire to learn more about a variety of subjects.
While college students are engaging with new spaces in which to learn and take courses, others may be working in a career, but still desiring to learn new things.
Whatever the situation may be, there is a place for you to learn new things in online environments. Whether it be the independent method of reading articles, something more formal like an electronic textbook, or a full blown online course, online learning offers so much to every sort of lifelong learner.
In this article, we are going to review the ins and outs of learning online. We’ll go over why so many are moving to online spaces for learning, as well as some different learning methods. But first, what is involved in digital learning, and how does it differ from traditional methods?
What does online learning mean?
Digital learning is a somewhat new experience. Although just a couple decades old, learning online grows annually in scope and resources.
The method involves a few forms of media and interaction in order to recreate a recognizable learning experience. A popular aspect of the method is utilizing video for instruction.
Video lectures, as well as digital conferencing, are great ways of building a learning space online. In pre-recorded videos, teachers can instruct content and learning methods. In real-time recording spaces, the process is also engaging.
Audio can also play a large role in the experience.
Auditory learning is a very important experience of an educational course. Lastly, information is distributed via texts as well. This can include articles, electronic textbooks, and other written material.
For a lot of students studying digitally, text still exists as the most popular form of educational tools. Just like in the classroom, written, visual, and auditory learning plays a big role in the process.
Is Online as Effective as In-Person?
There are many who wonder what method of learning is best?
As online resources grow more popular, the evidence backs up some digital spaces as being just as effective as traditional classrooms. As anyone knows, not all courses are created equal.
Likewise, not all professors and teachers provide students the same experience. It’s tough to compare across forms of learning. That being said, within online learning methods, there are some that seem more effective than others.
Depending on where you go to learn, your experience varies. Hopefully, this article helps in determining which methods are most effective.
Ideally, students know which resources are better than others. The evidence behind superior methods is not hard to find, if you know what you’re looking for. That’s the goal of this article.
You should know the ways in which online learning takes place, as well as what makes certain methods superior. So, which method is the best when it comes to digital learning methods?
What is the best method of online learning?
There are three major methods of learning in a digital environment.
For starters, articles provide people all over the world with educational information.
Articles meant for education are not necessarily all created equal.
For example, a BuzzFeed piece on a new NASA program will not be as helpful as a breakdown from a professor of aerospace.
In a lot of cases, articles are only truly education when they come from credible sources.
A credible source can be tough to determine, which makes other methods of online learning more effective. That being said, articles are usually free to access and read.
Another method of online learning is also text based: electronic textbooks.
E-books cost less than their physical counterparts.
This can make them a great tool for online learning students. Because of their lower cost, many find them to be easier to obtain and read.
Unfortunately, e-books may not include any sort of instruction from a real life professor. This can make complex, complicated theories and ideas hard to navigate.
Likewise, e-books can sometimes lack an engaging tone that drives some students who prefer to engage more with their content. E-books are usually more effective than articles alone, but another method of learning is superior to these first two. In many cases, the best method of online learning incorporates both articles and e-books.
The best method of online learning is an online course. Some courses are even tied to real university class credit.
Even courses without credit can be incredibly effective in teaching in a primary and supplementary way.
On the one hand, students taking a course in a subject at college can benefit from further instruction in an online course.
In other situations, the course alone is enough to allow aspiring students to engage with the material.
What are the benefits of online learning?
Online learning is a response to two trends. The first being technological advancement, and the second being an emphasis on student success. Both provide benefits to the concepts of education and learning.
Technology looks a lot different in education than it did 30 years ago.
Even 10 years ago, classrooms did not have regular access to laptops for each student. Nor did smart boards and other technologies exist in the traditional classroom. Even today, some schools that lack the funding for technology utilize things like overhead projectors and chalk boards.
The old ways of doing things are not dead and gone. Rather, technology is at the point where access to computers is cheaper than ever before. Likewise, many school districts are hardwired to offer WiFi internet connection.
Thanks to an increase in technologies and a decrease in their overall cost, classrooms operate with a ton of technology. The transition from traditional classrooms to digital learning spaces is a product of this trend.
Technology allows students to participate in learning in a variety of different ways, including being in remote locations and working in their own time.
Technology has also allowed learning to not stop after high school. If someone cannot attend college, but has access to a computer or smartphone with internet connectivity, they can continue to learn. Technology is the biggest advancement in education of the last 50 years. Online learning is the culmination of all the best parts of technology in education.
The Impact of Technology
Thanks to more options for learning than ever, online learning offers students a new take on education. It helps to include more people into the world of education.
Even for those who were going to pursue college anyway, online learning provides benefits and perks of a different experience.
The benefits of technology to learning all exist in online learning environments, and make learning more accessible and engaging than ever before.
Students require a lot of help to succeed. Even at the high school or college level, students vary in learning abilities.
At the end of the day, the goal of education is to spread knowledge to everyone willing to participate in formal learning.
For a variety of reasons we’ll get to below, education is not always possible past K-12 schooling. Adults need to earn money, pay bills, and take care of dependents in their lives.
In the same way that young students struggle to balance course work and chores, adults can have a hard time balancing life with educational aspirations. Learning is something many of us always strive to stay active in. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, life gets in the way.
Whether it’s K-12 or college learning, student success is the key to educational resources.
Every new technology and tool needs to help individuals in their pursuit of learning. If students are failing to learn, then education is failing as an institution.
Online learning is the single largest contribution to student success of the last few decades. If the goal is to provide education to more willing students, then online learning provides the most dynamic set of opportunities imaginable.
The Impact of Student Success
Online learning provides students with a million and one ways to learn.
Traditional college environments thrive on structure, but online learning allows students to learn the way they do best.
Whether that’s from home, at night after work, or at a subjective pace, online learning provides everything to the student that they need.
Now, let’s dive deeper into a few of the core benefits of online learning.
Each benefit is a reason why online learning has become so influential and popular in today’s educational landscape.
Learn at the time and place of you choosing
Not everyone can adhere to a set schedule of classes. In college, courses take place at set times, and attendance is expected. Online learning doesn’t work that way.
Students who pursue online reading and courses can access the material at the time and place they choose. It’s a major feature of online learning that entices many to give it a try.
For a long time, people working full time jobs couldn’t also take courses on various subjects. Likewise, those who cannot go to college at this current time had no access to college-level information and learning.
Now, online learning makes it easy to access college courses. Not only that, but students online can learn at the time of day that works best for them, wherever they are.
In a lot of ways, online learning makes education easier. For some, flexibility is all that stands between pursuing educational subjects and not having time to do so.
Why This Matters
For some online students, a full course may not be possible. Whether it’s money or time, a college course might not be the best option at the present moment.
Nevertheless, aspiring students can still be students thanks to the other major online learning methods. Articles from reputable sources can help get the ball rolling. Articles require no time or financial commitment.
Once a subject seems worth the effort, a student might want to put more time into a topic or field. At that point, an e-book is a good option to graduate up a level in educational scale.
At this point, an e-book can dive deeper into topics that articles don’t have the word count to get into.
If the time comes that an online course seems logical, then an online student can purchase access to one.
The important part is that they learn at the time and place they can handle, and various methods allow for levels of intensity and time commitment.
The comfort of learning wherever you want
Think back to the most popular trope associated with college: moving away from home.
Considering the cost of room and board, as well as transportation to a top tier university, access to education costs quite a bit.
Living on or near a college campus is not cheap. Not to mention, sometimes it’s not necessarily convenient.
Campuses are often like micro-urban environments full of parking shortages and overcrowded streets. For that reason, among others, online learning is a great option.
The comfort of learning wherever you currently are is priceless.
Sure, considering the cost of living near a college, it’s a real dollar amount in savings. On top of that, however, it’s the ultimate freedom to be able to study the way you want.
Coffee shops, libraries, and even home suddenly become classrooms. As long as you can access the materials, you can participate in online learning. While online courses may require internet, e-books often do not. This provides a flexibility in the way you learn based on what you have access to.
Why This Matters
Not everyone can learn at the same time. College courses take place at a set time, set place, and in a certain town or city.
Not to mention, those who take classes often need to focus on school above work. For some, working a full time job is a must to pay the bills. Despite this, the desire to learn may still exist.
After working, or even before going in for the day, online courses allow you to work the way that works for you. The comfort of learning wherever you are is a top reason many take online learning courses or access materials.
For some, it’s a matter of convenience. For others, however, flexibility in location is the reason they can learn in the first place.
Learning at your pace
Online classrooms and resources for education can be accessed anywhere. That means students no longer have to live on a campus to get access to university quality classes. It makes the process of taking a course much easier in a lot of ways. None more so than the freedom students have who are taking the class.
In a traditional classroom, courses start at a certain time and end at a certain time. Online, students complete courses as they go along. In many ways, this experience is superior.
For starters, students work at different paces.
With online classrooms, nobody feels behind or ahead. Ideally, everyone would learn the same way, but that doesn’t happen. Online courses don’t put pressure on students to do something they cannot. Deadlines still exist, but pacing is up to the student. This is one of the largest benefits to online learning. It’s also transforming the education experience.
Why This Matters
Students feel pressure in traditional classroom settings.
Whether the pressure is based on performance or comprehension, some students feel left behind. When this occurs, students feel disconnected from the material. It’s not fair to put a pace onto each and every student. For too long, students fail due to the pressures of school rather than their own capabilities.
In a lot of ways, this is one of the largest contributions to education by online learning. Even as a convenience, setting an individual pace relieves stress and tension related to learning.
By allowing students to learn at their own pace, online courses and resources provide the freedom to succeed. Students still must perform well to get a good grade, but now, they compete against themselves rather than environmental pressures.
For students at various levels of knowledge and experience, pacing makes all the difference. It’s another one of the benefits of online learning.
The lower costs of online learning
As many know, college courses can cost a pretty penny. It’s a joke among many college graduates that they’ll pay student loans the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, it’s no laughing matter. College courses cost so much money, the sheer price tag deters thousands from a college experience.
If a degree is not a reality, some people may still seek out educational opportunities. A growing number of people use online learning to satisfy this need.
Between articles, e-books, and online courses, students can now learn a wealth of knowledge all from an online experience.
It’s not fair to say that one learning experience is superior to the other. That being said, cost is a major factor. So much so that prices of classes deter many from college or university.
Online learning offers a solution to this problem, as well as a ton of resources. It’s a big factor in the future of educational practices and experiences.
Why This Matters
Whenever education is being discussed, a theme emerges. Opportunity is everything in education.
Students with fewer resources in K-12 districts do poorer on exams. Likewise, technology helps students perform better in school. If a student does not have access to a laptop, or other digital materials, they do worse. This is also relevant to prospective college students.
The cost of college keeps many away from attending a university. With online learning, the cost is much lower. This encourages more people to pursue interest in education.
At the end of the day, many want to learn. Everyone has things they are interested in. The choice is not usually one of desire, but of economic opportunity.
With lower costs for courses and literature, online learning allows more people to access the content they desire. The lower cost of online learning may be the most significant benefit of online learning for many students.
Free online learning
Like any college or university, not all online learning is created equal.
Some resources online are less helpful than others. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, money plays a factor in the quality of education.
Whether it is a traditional college or online learning, someone’s budget for their education is going to play a factor in how much they gain from the experience.
Free online learning can span all three of the major methods of digital education: articles, e-books, and courses.
Articles, more often than not, are going to be free. The exceptions are some academic journals and certain magazines or publications. Subscriptions are required for some of these sorts of outlets. For the most part, however, articles are free. They provide a great introduction to topics, and in some cases, are great for case studies on a particular phenomenon or theory in a field of study. They fail to dive deep into content, however, so their benefits are limited
Many e-books do require a purchase. These can vary in quality, and in many cases, the more expensive books are full of much richer content. Free e-books do exist as well, but these are often less educational and helpful than paid books. For the most part, if someone is giving away something for free, it may not be as informationally valuable.
Lastly, free courses pale in comparison to paid experiences. Free courses may be great introductory experiences, but for deep dives into meaningful content, paid courses yield much better knowledge and results. As with the e-books, it is not fair to say that free online learning courses are not valuable. That being said, these courses can vary so greatly in quality and content that it’s safer to bet on a paid course than a free one. Also, be wary of free to start courses, that may give a lessor or two for free, then require payment to complete the course.
Online learning pros and cons
Like any educational tool or experience, there are pros and cons to online learning. Here’s the shortlist of things to keep in mind when considering an online learning tool or platform.
There are numerous benefits, many of which are listed above. Above anything else, a general theme of freedom helps online learning stand out as a form of learning and education. No matter your situation, online learning resources offer you a way to engage with content that interests you. With a variety of prices and ways to learn, everyone can find something that works for them.
Likewise, a crucial positive to online learning is the mobility of it. Anywhere you can access a course or e-book can become a moment to learn. It’s great for those who are on the go, or may be looking for something to do on the train or bus ride home from work. Likewise, it’s easy to fit into your schedule, even if it’s already full of hours at work. The dynamic flexibility of online learning makes it an easy to use and access resource in your education journey.
Unfortunately, online learning is a very independent experience. That means a lot of the onus to stay on top of readings and lessons is on the student, without someone in front of you regularly reminding you of deadlines and requirements. For articles and e-books, there may not be a set pace at which you are meant to read. That’s good for those who can set their own pace, but sometimes it is easy to slack on things that don’t have a set schedule. Likewise, it can be tough to organize a routine for using e-books or articles to learn about a subject. For this reason, it’s recommended to be diligent in setting a schedule that works for you and not falling behind!
Which online learning platform is best?
Comparing the Others
A few popular platforms for online learning stand out as good examples of the quality of content you receive. One popular outlet is Udemy.
On this site, people upload their online courses and offer them for purchase on the Udemy marketplace. One negative aspect of the site is that course teachers do not need professional teaching experience. They may have never taught in a traditional classroom at a college or university. The courses are not tied to college credit, in most cases. Nevertheless, many people enjoy the platform.
Coursera is another platform that features a lot of online courses and experiences. Unlike Udemy, this platform is tied to accredited colleges and universities. Not only do you get college credit for the courses on Coursera, but you take the classes with real university professors. For students at these universities, it’s a great way to add courses to your schedule that allow you to work from anywhere. Because these courses are tied to real universities, the costs are much higher than a resource like Udemy. An account on Coursera is tied to financial aid opportunities, but that should only clue you into the cost of this platform.
Lastly, Teachable is another popular platform. Teachable uses its own course building software to assist teachers in creating online classes. This is a great option for those who don’t know how to form an online course, but have the knowledge to do so. That being said, using a pre-determined course builder does limit creativity and flexibility. There are a lot of options for customization in this platform, but still, you are limited to what the site has to offer. Like Udemy, you do not have to be a professor to upload and sell a course. In fact, many courses on Teachable are experts in a field who sell their knowledge, without any tie to education.
Online Learning at Direct Knowledge
At Direct Knowledge, online learning resources are available for you in every popular method. Given the ways in which various services work best for each individual, we offer options for any interest in online learning. Here are a few ways that you can use our resources to start your latest journey in knowledge and learning.
The articles hosted on Direct Knowledge are free to access and read.
Each author of articles on the site are handpicked for their writing and expertise on a topic.
By choosing credible authors for our articles, we are able to offer a free resource that leaves no question to the content’s validity or utility.
Once you access the articles and find a topic that interests you, you can consider moving on to an electronic book.
Direct Knowledge offers books on a variety of popular topics. E-books offer a depth required to build a base knowledge on a topic. Our books are written by experts in the field about which they write, meaning you are getting quality content from the best in the business.
Many of our books are written by current or former professors in higher education. The books offered at Direct Knowledge are less expensive than the normal cost of college textbooks, meaning easier and more realistic access to the information that you desire.
An e-book is a great way to advance your interest and study of an online learning subject. Likewise, moving on to an online course is the best step in securing your learning experience. The library of e-books offered at Direct Knowledge are continuing to grow, and regularly feature products and subjects on sale with coupon codes!
Online learning courses are the most popular form of online learning. Many choose to purchase access to courses once they feel ready to put work into an academic interest of theirs.
Our amazing online courses are currently growing in number, and will soon range from hard sciences to the humanities to civil service topics.
For those looking to pursue an online learning experience meant to provide quality content at the fraction of the cost of a college course, Direct Knowledge aims to offer everything you look for in online courses. While our courses do not count for college credit, the things you learn and practice in them can help push you closer to success in your degree, or introduce you to a new topic that may spur an interest in a future passion or career.
Our courses go where you go, and offer the highest quality experience around.