With Online Scribblers immersed in its 4th year, it is only natural to reflect upon its continued development and growth. In doing so, one question continues to present itself: What are the advantages of online learning?
The answer appears evident. Online learning affords students a unique educational experience emphasizing superior accessibility, individualized pacing, and custom feedback.
First, online learning allows every student access to experts in their field no matter where they live. Previously, students in metropolitan areas had greater access to higher education and renowned professional experts. Now even students in rural, less inhabited areas can learn from the best. Even more importantly, these students can collaborate and learn together. Their diversity lends a greater depth to the learning process. Online learning equalizes opportunity among all students.
Secondly, online learning allows students to progress at their own pace and around their schedules. No longer must one student spend an hour on a lesson that made sense to them in 20 minutes. Similarly, a student who struggles with a concept has the chance to repeat and review it as many times as needed to fully grasp it.
Online learning also allows students and families to forge their own academic experience. It is flexible. A family might travel frequently: no problem. A student might deal with intermittent health concerns: no problem. A student might be pursuing a competitive talent: no problem. These students don’t need to choose between their specific interests or circumstances and a quality education. Online learning makes everything possible.
Finally, online learning allows teachers to provide individual and customized feedback to each student. The teacher can push an excelling student a bit harder while praising and encouraging the smaller accomplishments of a struggling student to affecting greater confidence. It eliminates the competition in education and focuses on the outcome. No two students are the same and neither should be their education.
In many ways, online learning is akin to having your own private tutor. And similar to the special relationship that develops between a student and their tutor, a unique relationship evolves between online students and their teachers. There is no hiding in the back row of the classroom or sinking low in a chair. There is no waiting for the outgoing student in the front row to answer all the questions. Online teachers get to know each student personally. Each student is held to a higher level of accountability and responsibility for their work.
In a traditional classroom, a teacher has a finite amount of time to communicate a lesson, discipline, and develop a rapport among students. What a feat! However, online learning accelerates this one to one relationship between student and teacher. And once a level of comfort is achieved, the real nitty-gritty of learning can flourish.
So, while knowledge is both power and the road to success, online learning just might be the modern face of education in today’s world: the great equalizer.