5 Ways Online Schools Are Outpacing Traditional Schools

man smiling while on laptop

The global campus keeps growing.

As more universities move their classrooms online, students are increasingly foregoing the traditional college experience for the benefits of non-traditional online learning, either exclusively or combined with in-person courses.

A 2018 Babson Survey Research Group report finds online learning enrollments increased for the 14th straight year in 2016, with the study’s co-author defining the trend as “relentless” growth, citing more than 30 percent of higher education students who are taking at least one online education course. 

While many online learning advantages are obvious from the outside – saving money by eliminating your commute or being able to log in from anywhere, for example – you’ll start to see below-the-surface benefits almost as soon as you log in to your classroom. 

Here are five ways online schools are besting the traditional education model, and why that’s unlikely to change. 

1. Online classrooms are always evolving.

The lecture hall is limited by its space -- how many students can be seated in the room, how much technology a school can afford, and how much time is committed to a single class. None of those limitations exist in online universities, and the technology is continually changing for the better.

Consider the explosive growth of mobile apps and websites over the last 10 years. Mobile keyboards make it easier to type, and mobile-friendly, fully optimized experiences mean the online classroom is accessible to learners of every age and skillset. 

More than 30 percent of higher education students are taking at least one online education course.

Now, think forward. What will the online classroom look like in 10 years? Education companies are already experimenting with virtual reality apps, and augmented reality is being used to recreate real-world training scenarios, the kind that today’s adult learners demand when they go back to school.

The first opportunity for online universities was recreating the classroom on a computer. Now, these schools have an opportunity to create a new college experience that no one has seen before. 

2. Online learning gives your soft skills a workout. 

Traditional college classes come with defined start and end times, and you just need to make sure you don’t sleep through the lecture. 

When you’re an online student, you have to become a master of time management. Many distance learners are working full-time jobs and raising families so only have small windows of time every day to get schoolwork done. 

“My advice is simple: develop a realistic schedule and stick to it!” explains Ashford University student Corey Banks. “Your schedule should include rest time. Being organized helps.”

Not only do successful students leave school with time management strategies under their belts, they can also boast superior organizational skills, self-confidence that comes from overcoming life’s obstacles, and a strong work ethic. All of these soft skills will shine through during your next job interview or presentation. 

3. Online learners are excellent communicators.

Much of your work in the online classroom involves discussions with other students -- people from all walks of life, logging in from around the world. In time, you’ll come to appreciate other points of view and perfect your abilities to engage with others virtually.

It can be challenging at first, because people reading your posts may have trouble interpreting your tone. But you’ll make adjustments, and soon realize that you’re able to convey your messages and opinions much more effectively.

The same can be said for your written communication skills. Your words are what matter in the online classroom, because no one can raise their hand for a chance to speak. Resources such as the Ashford Writing Center allow students to fine-tune these abilities, while also mastering the University’s preferred APA writing style. The result is a more refined, to the point, and professional approach to everything from emails to text messages, rather than off-the-cuff, stream of consciousness writing that can be confusing to the reader. 

4. Online learners have access to a network full of mentors.

Reaching out to a potential mentor can be intimidating, especially for introverts. In a traditional college setting, you might not even know where to turn as a first-year student, as your peers are all still in school and learning themselves.

Online universities are comprised of adult learners from all backgrounds, some with years of professional experience, and your success depends on your ability to engage with classmates. This demographic mix creates networking opportunities across the board, with students able to ask questions and seek advice in ways they could never do while attending a traditional school. 

At Ashford University, students have the opportunity to take part in the CHAMPS Peer Mentoring Program, which pairs high-achieving learners with those still adapting to the virtual classroom. The relationships formed in this program can lead to introductions and opportunities years beyond graduation.    

5. Employers are taking notice, and it’s paying off for students.

There’s incredible value in being able to take what you’ve learned and apply it immediately to your work. Online students are able to walk into their offices every morning with new skills, knowledge, and ideas for taking their companies forward.

Employers recognize that value, and they’re continuing to invest in their own employees through programs such as Ashford University’s Full Tuition grant, which allows students to attend Ashford University with all education-related costs, including tuition and fees, covered. 

Rather than seeing their employees leave to attend traditional college, the Full Tuition Grant allows businesses to retain their brightest and best, while giving those workers a chance to shine.  

Whether you prefer to define online learning as “non-traditional” or “the new norm,” it’s clear that today’s students have more opportunity than ever before to earn a college education. As technology and innovative partnerships continue to remove obstacles, there may be nothing standing in the way of future generations who want to achieve their dreams of a college degree.  

 

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Written by Ashford University staff.
 

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