Educational Alternatives: Online Learning
As the end of term looms closer, questions about what we’re up after summer or what our life plan is for the future arise. Yero investigates the education routes that aren’t always the most obvious choices – this one is Online Learning.
Our life in education is set in stone. Many of us go through the traditional route. Nursery, reception, and then we become very small fish in a big pond when we start primary school and then again when we head off to secondary school.
Secondary school is supposed to get us ready for the dreaded GCSEs. These GCSE results (at the time are the most important thing that has ever existed, EVER) are supposed to equip us for a post-16 education and well, life. The recent rise of university tuition fees has put people off studying at university and encouraged others to find alternative ways of self-directed study such as workshops and online learning.
Many of us use the internet daily. We use it to find out information, to keep in touch with friends and family via social media and to know what’s happening in the world. We also utilise the internet’s democratisation of networking by becoming opinion leaders on social media platforms like Twitter. The internet is a powerful place, it’s never off and we can get access to it almost everywhere. So shouldn’t we also use it to learn?
Distance learners can be part of a community.
You can now study online (also known as distance learning) and get accredited diplomas and undergraduate/postgraduate qualifications right from the comfort of your own home. It’s the real deal. Distance learners can be part of a community of students from all over the world, and have classes with each other in a virtual capacity. Online learning boasts flexibility, and it’s often an option for people who have other commitments or even health or mobility issues.
The most renowned distance learning further education provider is the (fee paying) Open University and (FREE Open University owned) Future Learn. Both are reputable and you can research other providers online. In addition, many other universities offer distance-learning options so you can still receive a qualification from a top university.
Open University is the UK’s most renowned online learning institution. You can receive an honours degree, diploma in Higher Education, certificates and even do non-credited short courses. The courses range from Art History to Welsh and if you choose to do a degree, you have up to 16 years to finish it. You can also study both part-time and full-time with fees ranging from £1,350 to £5,400 per year (which is a lot of money but considerably less than £9,000 per year at a traditional university).
You don’t have to get into debt to further your knowledge or broaden your career prospects. Their sister school, Future Learn churns out a plethora of courses for FREE.
Future Learn is an online learning provider, owned by Open University with almost two million subscribers. Users can learn from an extremely diverse curriculum, from filmmaking to learning how to monitor the climate from space. These FREE courses from leading universities and cultural institutions can be completed in as little as six hours per week in three weeks from the comfort of your own home.
Here’s a list of upcoming courses, remember they’re completely free to take part in.
If you’re still undecided and unsure if online learning is for you. I’ve weighed up the pros and cons of online learning:
PROs of Online Learning
– You can learn from anywhere and everywhere. You can read your course notes on public transport, and join in with class discussions from your kitchen.
– You save on transport and don’t have to worry about the bus being late and missing twenty minutes of your lecture.
– Having the flexibility to pick up where you may’ve left off the day before, you’re often able to have 24-hour access to your course work, allowing you to work to your own schedule.
– The change in technology has allowed researching online easier, you can find many of your recommended reading books online.
CONs of Online Learning
– Any type of self-directed study means self-discipline. You have to be able to motivate yourself. You’ll still have deadlines and expected hand-ins from your course tutors, but not being in a familiar education environment means you have to be able to time manage and organise your own schedule.
– Student engagement on online courses can sometimes be less hands on, and because of the different time zones of international students, you may have to make the use of only a small amount of people being active at one particular time.
– As fantastic the developments in technology have been, we all know the spinning wheel of doom. Sometimes the ease of online learning services can be temperamental and you can miss out on your learning just because of technical problems.
The most important thing to remember is that yes, a mainstream educational route is the norm and what’s usually expected of us. However, this route is not necessarily for everyone so when you do your research, make sure you’re looking for courses and further learning opportunities that cater to your needs and interests. Your learning will forever be yours, so make sure you think about what’s best for you.
Has this article helped you in any way? Have you had an alternative education or are you thinking of one? Let us know — @rifemag
Find out more about free courses at Future Learn
Find out more about about distance learning qualifications at Open University
For further advice on what’s best for you, contact Prospects