Online training sounds like a lazy person’s excuse to ditch going to a brick and mortar school. But through the years, online training has indeed proven to be more than just a hype. Many professionals in the healthcare, legal, real estate, customer service and even the hospitality industries, who are currently leading a fruitful career, are online school alumni. And the fact that they obtained their degrees from an online learning institution hasn’t stopped them from reaching their dreams as successful cogs in the great American workforce.
Modern forms of distant learning have already existed since the 60s. However, records exist that distant learning can be traced back to as far as the 1800s. According to a research by the University of Florida’s Distance Education unit, correspondence education, which is considered as the mother of all forms of online learning, proliferated during the mid-1800s in Europe and the United States.
Sir Isaac Pitman, the research noted, was one of the first to revolutionize distance learning then, as one of the first educators recorded in history to teach students by snail mail. Over 30 years later, Anna Ticknow established the first home-study program for women.
Other institutions have followed suit or at least attempted to—like Cornell University (unsuccessful) and the Chautauqua Liberal Arts in New York—which brings us to the founding of National University Extension Association (NUEA). The NUEA is the regulatory body for the transfer of student’s credentials and the establishment of standards for correspondence learning in the States.
Distance learning has come a long way since then. Flash forward to now: The New York Times reports that online learning performed better than those who study in campus, quoting data from a study published by the US Department of Education. The study evaluated eight years worth of data from 1996 to 2008 from over 99 studies. Researchers compared teaching practices applied to online and traditional classroom settings in K-12, colleges and adult continuing education programs.
Researchers found that students who are engaged in online courses belong to the 59th percentile in terms of academic performance while on average, classroom students would rank in the 50th percentile. The difference between the two may not be earth-shattering but it does present valuable insight on learning retention.
Online Learning is Focused Learning
A component of a study titled “Comparing the Effectiveness of Classroom and Online Learning: Teaching Research Methods” published in the Journal of Public Affairs Education revealed that online learning is more efficient than face-to-face set-ups because the student experiences less anxiety and pressures from classmates. In terms of feedback, the resulting feedback from remote classmates are more “detailed and focused” and everyone has to read each other’s feedback. Discussions are also more engaged because contact between group members have to be maintained, thus, increasing students’ depth of analysis and allowing them more time for reflection.
Building Your Career as You Study
The Guardian shared several stories of working students who took built their career by combining work skills and knowledge learned from distance learning. One of these students, Nick Walkter, has successfully set up a start-up app development website by the age of 19, by choosing to work instead of going to school. He is currently enrolled in an online game development course.
Working has also proven to facilitate one’s online learning experience, and vice versa, as in the case of James Elwood, a student who chose to work as an entry-level cashier at a bank instead of going to University, and is now enjoying his position as a bank manager. “When I had to write essays, I was analyzing my experiences with the companies I worked for, so the process helped me become a better employee,” he tells The Guardian.
Online learning is no doubt learning revolutionized. With more time on your hands, and less pressure to learn at a certain pace, you’ll retain more knowledge and information with online learning.
This article is contributed by Syreil Jude, a seasoned elearning professional and a subject matter expert on corporate compliance and workplace safety. Her experience in B2B is focused mainly on providing online training in the corporate setting. She is focused on understanding the dynamics of EHS training as well as the importance of compliance training in business. Currently, she is handling 360training.com Enterprise Solutions for B2B clients. Follow her twitter account @syreiljude
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