Is online learning the future of education?

Post by Open Colleges on July 9th, 2021

Recently, we’ve seen the rapid rise of online education. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many campuses had to scramble quickly to convert their courses into a digital, remote-friendly format.

Australia has a long history of distance education, being such a vast country. At OC, we’re proud to be Australia’s first distance educator, with more than 125 years’ experience in remote learning.

While online education is nothing new to OC, and for many Australian students who have successfully graduated from our courses, the pandemic forced a shift of focus from traditional on-campus learning to online studies.

Now the big question: is online learning the future of education as we know it in Australia?

What will the future of education in Australia look like?

The rise of online learning and the future of education

Online study is the future of education in Australia for a number of reasons. And one of the most compelling arguments is big data.

Big data is any large data set that can be analysed to reveal trends, patterns and insights into a specific user group. Now, the value of big data lies in both its quantity and its quality, as well as how it’s used. Just having access to big data isn’t enough. In the right hands, big data can be used to uncover trends and gain vital insights. For example, in the case of a school, this data can be used to improve student outcomes, personalise curricula and reduce the student dropout rate.

Through the use of machine learning and algorithms, it’s possible to track how a student is progressing in their course. If the algorithm notices that the student is lagging behind in certain areas, it can provide extra study materials to help bridge the knowledge gap or alert the student’s Trainer or Teacher. On the other hand, it can also be used to provide support to students who are striding ahead.

On top of this, our lives are changing and the education system needs to keep up. It’s no longer common for a person to stay in the same job for thirty years. Many people in Australia will change jobs and career paths many times during their working life. And in some cases, this means studying for a qualification that can help them reach their new career goals. For many, it’s simply not feasible to quit their job and begin studying on campus fulltime. That’s where online education comes in, offering a flexible, convenient and interactive option for students.

Studying online offers both flexibility and convenience for many Australians.

What are the benefits of online modern learning?

There are advantages to online learning over attending a physical classroom.

Here are the top 6 benefits of online modern learning.

1. It’s flexible and convenient

So long as you have an internet connection, you can study wherever and whenever you want. It could be at home on the couch, at your favourite local café or in the park; first thing in the morning, on the commute to work or late at night when the house is quiet.

2. You don’t have to fit your life around someone else’s schedule

Trying to get the balance right between home and work can be tricky. But when you add study into the mix, arranging your life around your new timetable can be hard.

However, with online study you don’t have lectures to attend or assessment deadlines you need to adhere to. You simply fit your study schedule around your life, not the other way around. And with course materials available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, you can choose to study whenever you want.

3. It demonstrates to employers that you have time management skills

What do employers think of online qualifications? If you’re worried about ‘not being taken seriously’ because you’ve completed an online course instead of attending face-to-face classes then think again.

Employers see a lot of value in online courses, as graduating from an online course proves that you are:

  • good at managing your own time
  • capable of organising your priorities
  • self-motivated
  • able to work autonomously
  • responsible and self-reliant.

4. Hone your tech skills

To study a course online means that you need the necessary tech skills. You need to be familiar with using a computer and different types of software, and you may even need to use organisational tools like Monday or Asana. You may also need to communicate with fellow students or Educators through mediums like Microsoft Teams, Slack or Zoom.

5. You have a wide variety of courses to choose from

What do you do if your local TAFE doesn’t offer the course you want to study? What if the closest campus that offers your course is a three-hour commute away?

With online study, issues about distance, commuting and choice become irrelevant.

6. You learn through a variety of mediums

Online learning isn’t about streaming lectures and downloading PDFs of your study material. Any real online educator worth their salt will always provide their students with an array of digital mediums to learn through.

With online learning, you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the learning content in a variety of different ways – through podcasts and audio files, through interactive activities, by watching videos and participating in online forums. It also allows you to discover your best learning style. You might discover that you’re an auditory learner, a visual learner or a kinaesthetic learner.

The way we study and work s changing.

Will online campuses replace bricks and mortar classrooms?

Do students prefer online learning?

A recent survey by Deloitte stated that 77% of surveyed post-grad students believed that online learning was equal to or better than on-campus learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us to reconsider the ways we thought about education. Online learning very suddenly became the only real viable education option as campuses were temporarily shut down.

Online learning has been on the rise for years. It’s long been a highly convenient option for people who have other commitments in their life, like work and home obligations (or both). Now, online education is no longer seen as just an alternative to on-campus study, but an option that can offer something completely different to face-to-face learning. And, as we stated above, employers and Recruiters see the benefit in online qualification when hunting for potential job candidates.

While it’s unlikely we’ll see our bricks and mortar classrooms disappearing for good any time soon, people are seeing the many advantages online education can offer them.  

What it takes to be a successful online learner

Online learning is convenient and flexible, but it does take commitment and motivation to be a successful online learner.

For example, studying online means that there’s no strict timetable you need to adhere to. This is obviously great because it means you can study whenever you want. However, it does mean that you need to practice self-discipline. It means that no-one is going to tell you when and where you have to study. You need to do that yourself.

To successfully graduate from your online course, you’ll need to:

  • be self-disciplined
  • hold yourself accountable
  • make a realistic study schedule you can stick to.

And don’t forget – it’s equally as important to reward yourself when you reach a milestone.

For inspiration on how to schedule your online study, check out our blog, ‘Easy ways to schedule your study’.

Making lifelong learning a part of your life

Are you a lifelong learner? Are you always looking for new and different ways to improve yourself? Do you constantly seek out ways to grow on a professional and personal level?

That’s what being a lifelong learner is all about. And online education is one way you can commit to being a lifelong learner.

A few examples of lifelong learning:

  • Developing a new skill, such as coding or cooking.
  • Learning a new activity, like learning how to paint or play touch footy.
  • Finding out how to use new technology, for example, a new software program.
  • Gaining new knowledge on a subject, such as researching a topic you’re interested in.

Are you ready to find an online course that can help you reach your goals? Check out OC’s extensive list of nationally recognised online qualifications and non-accredited short courses.

General advice Online learning Popular topic
Open Colleges
By Open Colleges