Woman at a laptop wearing headphones taking an online course.
February 13th, 2020 Course Creation

Online courses offer several huge advantages for learners over in-person training.

For learners who have never taken an online course, signing up can be a little intimidating. Most of us are used to the traditional course model, where we go to a classroom and learn in person from instructors. We’re used to choosing courses based on what’s available that semester, interacting with peers face-to-face, and regular class schedules.

In other words, we know what we’re in for.

Of course, online courses often don’t have set class times, in-person meetups with classmates, or a limited course selection. But what they lack in traditional structure they more than make up for by offering benefits that would be difficult to impossible in a standard classroom.

Showing learners the benefits of your online course can persuade even the most reluctant learner. Here are some of the top advantages of taking an online course.

1. Online courses are mobile and flexible.

For learners who have a tight schedule commuting to a campus can be a deal breaker. This is especially true for learners who are also trying to juggle the demands of work and family life. But online education opportunities have the flexibility to fit into any schedule.

Whether learners are taking courses on the go, in the morning before work, over their lunch break, or after putting kids to bed, online courses can fill in the gaps.

2. Online courses are more affordable than in-person classes.

Another advantage online courses usually have comes with their lower price tag. This isn’t because the instruction is cheaper—rather, it comes with less of the institutional overhead of a larger, brick-and-mortar institution.

Of course, online courses have some overhead, including the cost of hosting, advertising, and development. But even a small course studio will have rent to cover every month, and a college has much more than this, from the cost of owning and maintaining the campus, to the salaries for administrators and faculty. Learners across the country are looking for ways to improving their employment qualifications without taking on student debt. Online courses are filling this gap with more affordable education offers.

3. Online courses have more variety, allowing them to serve niche interests.

It takes a lot for a traditional classroom environment to develop a course. They need to know that enough learners will have interest in the subject for it to be worthwhile, and that demand has to come from the learners close enough to attend the course. And that demand has to persist year after year, otherwise a lot of the development work will go to waste.

But because online courses aren’t restricted by geography, it’s far easier to attract learners who interested in incredibly niche courses. And those courses are more likely to be available whenever a learner needs them, rather than disappearing after a semester.

4. Online courses reach a global audience for a more diverse community.

Speaking of global reach, online education can put learners in touch with classmates around the globe. This breadth of experiences adds to the learning environment for all students, by putting them in touch with different ways learners handle situations in their own countries. With more experiences to draw from, learners gain a new richness and depth to their knowledge that they might not have gained otherwise.

5. Online courses are more experimental and innovative.

Online courses often have to compensate for the lack of a traditional classroom by relying on new technology. This, in turn, opens up new ways for educators to experiment with the way they teach courses. From creative course assignments to innovative technologies such as AR and VR, online education is changing how learning happens. And much of this is because online courses don’t share the constraints of traditional classrooms.

If you are building your own course, you should consider leaning in to these opportunities. Creating a new course framework can be a huge selling point for learners, and can differentiate you from other courses offering similar classes.

6. Online courses help learners advance their careers without taking time away from work.

Many learners turn to online course opportunities as a means of furthering their career. Many jobs have specific requirements or opportunities for professional certification that are tailored to their industry. These certifications are usually not offered at universities or community colleges, which can sometimes make them difficult to attain unless the company has an employee development program.

However, for learners who want to gain these certifications independently, online courses make it possible for them to earn these professional certifications during off-hours.

7. Online courses are more accessible for learners with special needs.

Finally, online education opens the classroom to a whole field of learners who might not otherwise be able to attend. For instance, learners with mobility restrictions might have a harder time getting to class, especially if their transportation options are limited, or they rely on assistance from others.

Students with visual or hearing impairments may be able to attend an in-person course, but may also have more difficulties doing so, especially if the classroom isn’t set up for their needs. And those with learning disabilities often find it more helpful to study privately, where they can handle the subject matter at their own pace.

While traditional institutions have an obligation to continue making their facilities more accessible to all students, online education can fill this need while also bringing the other advantages already mentioned.

Online courses aren’t easier or more laid back than in-person courses, and learners still need support to complete them.

For all their advantages, there are a few things to be aid about what online courses aren’t. For instance, they aren’t easier than other courses. Learners who sign up to an online course often believe that they will be able to coast through with less effort, which is a recipe for disaster. Similarly, while taking a course from home may be more comfortable, it can also be more distracting.

Give your learners realistic expectations for what it will take to complete your online course, and create a support network for if they run into difficulties. If you manage this, you will be helping your learners take full advantage of their online education opportunities.

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