Why Online Learning is Effective?

Ben Wagland

Online Learning

There is no clear definition for online learning. However, it involves learning with the assistance of the Internet, personal computer and the communication between instructors and peers through online technology tools. It can sometimes also be referred to as "cyber learning".

Online Learning was the topic that I decided to study for my 20% project because I had first-hand experience in this setting, as I progressed through my teenage years, prior to attending the University of Georgia. This learning allows technology to bridge the gap between the information dispersed from schools to parents and allows parents to play a more active role in monitoring the progress of their children to reach their potential. Various different studies show conflicting opinions in regards to online learning, but I strongly believe there is a place for it in society today. As student fees continue to rise, additional stress is placed on many households across the globe and online learning can reduce this stress on households, whilst also providing numerous other benefits as you will see in my presentation.

My Personal Experience

From my experience with online learning in years 10-12, several important life skills were developed and I attribute these to the disciplined and self-motivated person that I am today. My decision to complete my education via online learning was due to the fact I was traveling oversees regularly for tennis competitions and felt a weak connection to my classmates at my high school. This was the best alternative and one that made me a more capable and self-motivated person today.

My parents were able to keep a closer eye on my grades during online learning, due to the access of portals that show recent exam results and assignment deadlines. If I failed an exam, my mum was notified and this made me become more accountable and self-motivated. Often in a school environment, parents are not aware until final reports are sent out.

Also, technology was at the forefront of online learning, as podcasts, video instruction and computer-based learning were the primary tools I used to complete my assignments.

Teaching Beyond the Classroom Walls

The bulk of my findings from internet resources as well as a scholarly article titled "Teaching Beyond the Classroom Walls", by Fedynich La Vonne, compiled the following Pro's and Con's of online learning.

Key benefits were convenience, higher participation, and cost effectiveness for the universities.

The attribute of convenience is cited as the biggest advantage to online learning. Online learning allows for fast access to instructors and peers in the cyber class. Ease of participation is also an appealing attribute of the cyber classroom. Students can interact in chat rooms, or discussion forums. Provided with all of these communication formats, students are afforded an easier route of communication with the instructor or other students in the class. Finally, universities realize advantages to hosting online classes, as student population tends to increase. In combination with lower withdrawal rates of online students, universities have found online learning to be very cost effective. More students tend to register and take the online classes, as this reduces the opportunity costs of an education for the student and the university.

Key disadvantages were computer literacy, course design and face-to-face time.

It is often overlooked or assumed that individuals participating in online courses are computer literate. Without this ability, the cyber classroom dysfunctional. Design and implementation is another disadvantage to online learning. Designing the cyber course to effectively meet students needs can be a large responsibility for the educator, as "there is no one-size-fits all approach to the design of eLearning, because each course is unique..." (Steen, 2008, p. 531)

Lack of instructor face time is another issue that has been seen as a downside to cyber learning especially for students of particular learning modalities.

Other Key Advantages of Online Learning

During my research, I found one podcast from the Wall Street Journal to standout and really show the total package of the advantages of online learning. Anant Agarwal, spoke about another six benefits with this form of education that differed from the above findings. Most, of which, are often unknown to student's parents. The podcast can be found below. learning sequences, instant feedback, mastery-based learning, pause/rewind/speed-up, gamification and peer learning.

1) Learning Sequences

2) Instant Feedback

3) Mastery-based Learning

4) Pause/Rewind/Speed-up

5) Gamification

6) Peer Learning

Six Advantages of Online Learning

Online Learning Quotes

  1. “With the growing popularity in e-learning, it occurred to me that the e should mean more than electronic. If we are going to call it e-learning, shouldn't it be effective, efficient, and engaging?”
  2. “I liked the course because it was easier to complete all of the work. I was able to do everything on my own time with a deadline at the end of the week. I also liked the weekly discussion boards.”
  3. “I really appreciated this course being offered in the online format. It allowed me to fit it into my schedule easily…”

Closing Thoughts

As online education grows immensely in popularity among programs offered at high-schools, universities and even in online education companies, I believe the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses. As technology has become so important to every day life, being computer literate is often achieve before even going to school and our minds are more then ever before linked to digital technology for quick information. It is estimated that in 2048, UGA will cost over $60,000 a year. Private colleges even more. With the ease of accessibility, cost savings and access to information, I see online education growing immensely in the years ahead. I hope this information was helpful to you and it was a lot of fun working on the project this semester!