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What Are The Benefits of Online Learning for Adults?

by Lois R. Earles
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Millions of school-aged children have been learning online in 2020, but they aren’t the only students who have benefited from the virtual revolution. While youngsters have been predominantly learning online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adults have been making the most of online learning platforms for quite some time.

As EdTech becomes more advanced, it has become easier than ever to study online. However, some people still question whether online learning can compare to a classroom-based environment. If you want to assess your future study options, take a look at the benefits of online learning for adults:

1. Flexibility

When you study a course online, you’ll typically have more control over when you study. While modules, assignments and dissertations usually have to be submitted by a particular date, you’ll be able to create your own schedule and study at a time that’s convenient for you.

This is particularly beneficial for adult learners, who may be working full-time and/or caring for their family while studying. If an unexpected situation crops up or you have a heavy week at work, for example, you can modify your study schedule without impacting your learning. In contrast to classroom-based study, which often involves shorter deadlines, the increased flexibility associated with online learning makes it a great option for mature students.

2. Location

One of the major benefits of online learning is the ability to study from any location. Traditionally, you might have been required to commute long distances or relocate in order to attend a top university or college. Now, however, you can study at highly ranked unis, from anywhere in the world.

As well as cutting out lengthy commutes, this also ensures you don’t have to make a difficult decision regarding relocating or resigning from your current role in order to further your career. If you want to obtain additional qualifications to increase your employability, for example, you can enrol on a prestigious online programme and study from your current location, regardless of where you’re based.

3. Course Options

As online learning has becoming increasingly popular, the range of course options has increased too. As well as completing an undergraduate or foundation degree online, you could also complete a master’s degree or even study for an online Doctor of Business Administration programme.

With no limits as to what you can study, you’ll find that a wide variety of academic courses is now available, which includes online-only courses or blended-learning programmes. What’s more – you’re often able to select modules that are of most interest to you, so you can customise your study options to suit your interests and your professional goals.

4. Cost

Traditionally, undertaking further study as an adult learner has been fairly expensive. In fact, the high course fees meant that many people were unable to fulfil their ambition. Although some employers were willing to fund the cost of an employee’s academic pursuits, this often required workers to commit to staying with the organisation for a certain amount of time or take on the financial burden themselves.

Fortunately, online programmes mean that accessing further study is now much more affordable. In some cases, the fees to study online are a fraction of the equivalent costs of studying on a classroom-based course. Of course, the opportunity to study from any location means you won’t face high travel costs, as you won’t need to commute. Furthermore, you won’t need to consider relocating or leaving your current role in order to study, so there are no costs to incur here either.

5. Self-Directed Learning

The flexibility of online study means there is significant scope of self-directed learning. As well as giving you the option to create a unique schedule that fits with your existing commitment, this also allows you to develop the skills that are highly valued by employers.

The motivation and commitment required to complete an online programme over an extended period of time highlights your ability to undertake individual learning and personalised programmes. While the content of your course may give you the theoretical, conceptual and practical skills you need to advance your career, the self-directed aspect of your learning is certain to impress future employers too.

6. Make Professional Connections

The advisers, teachers, professors and fellow students you encounter throughout your academic career will form part of your professional network. As many of the courses aimed at mature students are focused on professional disciplines, there’s a good chance you’ll be studying alongside people who are part of your industry.

Having this common interest and shared experience will enable you to forge strong bonds with the people you’re studying with. While email and online chat are effective, the increasing use of video conferences and live learning ensures you can get to know your classmates in the same way as you would on a classroom-based course.

As everyone knows, a professional network is critical to your long-term success, and completing an online programme gives you a great opportunity to extend this network and broaden your social circle.

7. Varied Start Dates

If you choose to study in a traditional environment, you’ll typically have to fall in with limited course start dates. Some programmes begin in September every year, for example, so if you miss the application deadline, you’ll be forced to wait another 12 months until you can get started.

With online learning, however, there is much more flexibility in terms of when you can start your course. In fact, many programmes have a rolling start date, which means you can enrol and begin studying at a time that suits you.

Start Studying Online

With so many benefits associated with online learning, it’s easy to see why it’s becoming increasingly popular. As prestigious universities begin to widen the scope of their online programmes and EdTech continues to evolve, there are more opportunities than ever to undertake advanced qualifications. No matter what your goals are, online learning can give you the resources, opportunity and flexibility to achieve them.