From MIT to the University of Central Florida, almost all educational institutions are throwing their doors open to online learning. If you have not heard of EdX or MOOC (Massive Online Open Courseware), then let me tell you that both these programs were launched to offer online education for free. Although, students who enroll for these courses do not get credits but the University of Washington is already thinking of providing free classes for credits in the not too distant future.
So why is there this sudden shift towards online learning? I suppose, it is because universities can reach out to a greater number of people with these courses if they start conducting classes over the internet. Many universities have admitted a record number of students to a number of their online classes and courses. For example, Coursera, a company working with selective universities to offer free online courses, recently stated that they have reached a milestone of one million registered students. Udacity, another company that provides MOOC, said it has more than 739,000 registered students. According to many, by offering such free courses, these institutions are generating an interest amongst the students especially those who may be a bit skeptical to attend online classes.
Online classes come with a lot of advantages over traditional classroom-based learning.
You can access online classes anytime of the day or night. There are no time constraints as such for going through class catalogs or viewing class calendars to know about upcoming class schedules, etc.
Registering for a class is effortless with an online registration system. You don’t have to rush to the university campus to enroll your name in order to earn a degree. Online educators allow potential students to register themselves for single or multiple courses simultaneously, from home or while on a job via such an online admission procedure.
Online courses are designed keeping in mind the current learning trends and what exactly the students are looking for. In recent times, degree or diploma programs are being created after taking a poll or a survey based on the feedback from the students.
For true knowledge sharing, what the university faculty needs is greater interactivity with the students. This is exactly what online learning offers. Internet-based classes overcome the problems associated with conventional classroom set ups. For example, it really becomes difficult for a professor to individually deal with student issues within the limited class hours.
Colleges and universities that offer online programs allow staff members and teachers to talk with the students via an online private forum. Students can participate in an online forum without any interruptions at a time that suits them best. Online forums can make one to one communication easier and enables a professor to respond more thoughtfully.