Taking Online Courses or learning new skills online at an Academy (Distance Learning) or Online Platform without having to go through the stress of physical appearance or enrolment in a University, School or College is no longer a new or strange concept especially in developed parts of the world. This concept can be traced back to the 1800s before it became well known in the 1900s and gained even more ground between 2008 and 2013 and ever since then, the flow has been on the increase and has skyrocketed even till date.
Taking courses online is different from traditional learning where students have to be physically present in class and would even have to undergo undue stress in some cases. We now have an online environment where people can just take their preferred courses online in an academy or university without any restrictions. Apart from that there are even Massive Open Online Courses and these are organized by professional bodies, firm, consultancy organizations and not necessarily universities or colleges, (although some schools and colleges are now participating in it). Lately, many schools and colleges have adopted this new approach to deliver their teaching to students.
At this point, it is interesting to note the differences between Traditional Learning style and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)
- Traditional Learning Approach is common with Educational Institutions such as universities, schools and colleges with physical structure while MOOC is purely an online venture and does not necessarily need a physical structure or organized by schools and colleges, even firms and multinational organisations now either make use of MOOC for training or send employees for MOOC to boost work performance and professionalism.
Although, the traditional learning style of attending classroom lectures, meeting up with a fixed lecture time, etc is now becoming old fashioned and even schools and colleges have now adopted the online learning approach and even partnering with some MOOC platforms (especially for professional courses), but then, the difference remains that MOOCs can also be hosted by companies and professional organizations and firms inasmuch as the learning facilities are available.
2. High tuition/Enrolment fee: What many schools charge as tuition or enrolment fee before admission is given is usually very high when compared with taking the same course online and in most cases there are even other charges such as medical, ICT, etc, as the journey progresses. There have been cases where students are also charged for maintenance or for damages or other related or not charges that they were not aware of at the outset.
3. Physical Presence: While it is a “must-have” for universities, schools and colleges to be located in a specific place sometimes a large piece or land or possess a giant structure, this is not a necessity for MOOC platform.
4. Duration: Another critical area of difference between schools as physical structure and online course platform is that the former is faced with so many distractions that can either delay or even stop student’s learning. Some of these distractions are strikes (by lecturers or students), unfavourable government policies, sudden increase intuition, disasters and so on.
5. Cultism: this is a social vice that not only affect schools but even communities where such schools are located. So many innocent and unsuspecting students have become victims of the outrages of cult group or their resultant mischief.
6. Speed in Delivery: Taking courses online tends to be faster than enrolling for such at a particular school location because of the absence of physical and social factors that can become distractions along the way. Apart from that, online course comes with adequate preparation on the part of the instructors and students and there is hardly such thing as lack of interest, impromptu lectures, low teacher morale, incompetence, lack of zeal.
7. Accuracy: Taking courses online comes with accuracy especially when it comes to writing, scoring and recording test and examination. The reason for this is not far-fetched, humans generally have limitations and can make mistakes in recording or reporting but this does not usually come up when one takes such test or assessment online because everything will be processed by the computer or Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) provided it is working under good condition and all settings are intact.
At this point, it is interesting to note that most Online courses or MOOCs are designed to either boosters skills or professionalism at an affordable price. Therefore it becomes a viable option for the following categories of people:
- Less privileged
Taking courses online also has some requirements, The basic requirements are a computer (PC) and internet facilities, But it should be noted that there may be other requirements (depending on the course or course instructor) such as tools for practicals, tools to boost learning, instruments, etc
Having highlighted the differences between taking courses in a traditional school setting and online, some of the benefits that can be derived from taking courses online are listed below:
- Exposure (Modern day technology)
- Resources at your fingertips
- Accessibility (you have access to your online courses anytime, anywhere)
- Reference ( you can always play lecture videos over and over again until you have fully grasp what the instructor’s message)
However, there are some factors that if not properly considered taking online courses can be a disadvantage rather than an advantage. Some of the factors are:
- Slow internet connection: Taking courses online requires a strong network signal and not fluctuating or slow internet connection, or else, one may not enjoy or complete the course. The person involved may not even be able to access the course.
- Space for downloads: There must be enough space in the PC or mobile to download videos and course materials. Sometimes these files are heavy and require a lot of space.
- Social activities: As it has been said that taking courses online saves one the stress of going to attend classroom lectures at a particular venue, so also, it means that one may not be able to relate with friends or other students at all or even if there is opportunity to relate with them online via chats, online calls, group discussions, etc, still, it cannot be as what we have in the traditional school setting.
On a final note, modern-day technology has brought a lot of changes to many things and even our ways of doing things, and the world is moving along with this trend. Therefore, it is advisable to keep updated and be equipped with all there is to keep up with the world today in order not to lose relevance.