This article is written by Bhumika Dandona, from School of Law, Sushant University (erstwhile Ansal University), Gurgaon. In this article, she deals with the concept of online courses and its benefits.
Technology is an invention that has brought about a drastic change in our lifestyle. The advent of the internet, in particular, has made lives easy. Almost everything is available online these days, from food recipes to information on cars etc. Education is no exception. Over the years, the education system has seen a gradual shift from offline mode to online mode owing to specific reasons such as distance and more recently, the novel coronavirus. While offline education is not going away anytime soon, these roadblocks to studies have been subject to fruitful tackling measures. One of them is online courses.
Concept of online courses
An online course refers to an educational programme that takes place via online platforms such as the Internet. It comprises a minimum amount of in-person meetings between the students and teachers. These programmes replace most of the physical meetings with the following:
- Pre-recorded lectures
- Live lectures
- Audio files
- Digital assignments
Structure of online courses
Online courses incorporate a design similar to that of conventional ones, the only difference being in the medium of transmission. There is generally a division of sessions into a specific number of weeks, with three to five lectures per week. Teachers give assignments to students which they are supposed to complete within a fixed period. Towards the end, students have to take an exam if the course requires them to write it.
What distinguishes online courses from each other is the level of attraction, difficulty and compatibility with students’ requirements. A balanced combination of these aspects makes for an excellent online course. Several universities and organisations offer these courses nowadays.
Types of online courses
Following are the five primary types of online courses:
Synchronous online courses
Synchronous online courses are those courses that include the use of real-time lectures. Teachers interact with all the students at the same time. They promote active class participation. Live discussions lead to the clearance of doubts at that time only.
Asynchronous online courses
Asynchronous online courses are those courses that involve the use of pre-recorded lectures and assignments. There is no real-time interaction. One of the advantages of it is that students can attend sessions at any time they want. There is no restriction on that. However, it delays the clearance of doubts which impacts students’ understanding of the concept involved.
Hybrid online courses
These courses consist of a fusion of offline and offline mode. They offer students the best of both worlds. Those for whom the all-time offline or online system is not feasible can avail such courses to gain access to education on their desired subject.
Collaborative online courses
These types of online courses are concerned with learning through teamwork. They focus on increasing students’ knowledge by the exchange of ideas and thoughts with one other. It significantly enhances their communication skills as well.
Individual online courses
Individual online courses largely emphasize on students’ individual development rather than collective development. They teach students how to achieve their objectives without external help.
Benefits of online courses
The benefits mentioned below seek to explain the importance and usefulness of online courses:
Online courses enable you to learn at any point of time and from any place. They are best suited for those who want to fulfil their wish to familiarise themselves with a subject while still being in school or college. Such courses allow them to manage their daily schedule effectively without missing out on classes or meetings etc.
Online courses are way cheaper than traditional in-person programmes. When you enrol yourself in an offline course, you also have to pay for using other facilities apart from tuition such as infrastructure, commuting etc. With online programmes, you are supposed to pay for just the education you receive.
Online courses give students a chance to interact with so many people at any time with just a click of a button. They can communicate with experts living anywhere in the country as well as those living abroad. It expands their network to such an extent that students will have so many individuals to contact whenever they’re stuck.
Improvement in technical skills
Online courses require students to learn how to use different management systems such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel etc. and other computer skills. It improves their technical abilities to a great extent, easing the whole journey. It also prepares them for your future endeavours that will require such capabilities.
Since online courses give students the liberty to attend the sessions from wherever you want, there are fewer chances of being absent. It prevents them from lagging in the studies and piling up everything for the last moment. Also, it serves as a motivation for experts who are then able to impart good lectures, benefiting students in return.
Increase in interaction
In offline courses, whenever students face any uncertainty with regards to the subject, sometimes they hesitate to communicate the same due to the fear of being judged by others or stagefright. It can lead to undesirable consequences such as imbibing wrong knowledge. Online courses have no scope for such problems. They can freely raise their queries without any fear.
Online courses allow students to connect with people living abroad. In this way, they get to know about the culture and the lifestyle led by others in different countries. They may also develop friendships with them which is helpful if they wish to visit their country. It contributes to harmonious international relations as well.
With their online course and other commitments, students learn to cope with the stress that comes along. They develop several ways to fulfill their responsibilities and ensure proper time management. Thus, the online course plays an active role in keeping students disciplined. It is one of the best benefits that they can acquire.
Varied subject options
In offline mode, students may not get a chance to study the course of their choice due to its non-availability or campus being at a distant location. In an online system, students come across several opportunities to learn what they wish for without worrying about the same or other things. It saves them the time they spend taking tension. Also, they come across subjects they didn’t know existed. So students start exploring more.
Learning at one’s own pace
Everyone has a different deciphering capability. Online courses offering to learn through pre-recorded videos and lectures are beneficial for such students who take some time to absorb the knowledge and understand the content. It helps them to learn at their own pace.
The online system lets students directly communicate with the teachers and the experts. Organised separate and direct interactions with the teachers boost their participation in sessions and promote individuality.
Easy communication with experts
With advancements in technology, communication has become simpler and convenient. Creators of online courses come up with various ways to ensure that students can talk to the experts easily and get their troubles resolved at the earliest.
Students can attend sessions online from their home or from anywhere they want, without having to travel to the campus or institution. It not only saves their money but also makes them avoid wasting time.
Students can customise the online course as per their liking and convenience. In a traditional setting, they have no option other than to study whatever the teaching staff designs.
Famous websites that offer online courses
Following are some of the best websites that offer online courses:
Founded in 1995, Lynda (now owned by LinkedIn Learning) was one of the first of its kind in the e-learning industry. It is an online learning website that administers dedication towards learning skills related to technology, business and connectivity. Lynda provides tutorials in five languages and offers free membership to all its users. Its library however is accessible for thirty days beginning from the day of signing up. The courses offered include business, photography, design, marketing, software development etc.
Udemy offers more than fifty-thousand, customisable courses taught by leading experts. It also has a mobile application through which one can take lessons anytime.
If the price range does not suit any user, they can avail heavy discounts that Udemy provides.
Khan Academy is a non-profit organisation whose main motive is to provide the free and best education, to anyone and anywhere. Educationist Salman Khan, the founder, set it up in 2006. It focuses on subjects like mathematics, science, humanities, economics, computer programming etc. Khan Academy has partnered with post-secondary schools, providing micro-lectures, instructional videos and practice assignments.
Coursera has tied up with various universities and organisations to provide access to the world’s best education. It is a massive open online courses (MOOC) website. It offers a variety of courses such as computer science, music etc. It provides a certificate to all its users once they are through with their course.
Alison is the best option for free online, high-quality courses. More than ten million students from all over the world use it. The courses offered include health, technology, business, design, languages etc. It also provides certificate and diploma level courses. 80% is the minimum requirement to obtain the certificate for the same.
edX is a non-profit, educational and MOOC website founded in 2012. It offers fully online courses such as psychology, engineering etc. To enrol in edX, one needs to select any certificate course. It furnishes an official certificate as a proof for receiving education.
Udacity is far cheaper than traditional school learning. It aims at bringing higher education to more and more students in affordable and effective ways. It is a MOOC platform. Their well-crafted courses focus primarily on technology, based on data science, android, web-designing, soft-engineering and iOS etc.
Founded by Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin in 1995, LinkedIn Learning offers courses related to business, creative and technical skills through online video tutorials. It is a brilliant option for those who want to develop their job skills.
Future Learn is a MOOC website and offers programmes from leading institutions. It provides extensive learning through its programmes. Courses offered include business, law, literature, art, history, teaching, media etc. Students can learn these courses at their own pace, through laptops and mobiles. It allows students to participate in discussions throughout their course of study.
Coursedes is a private organisation founded by Pushkar Raj Thakur in 2020. It offers courses that focus on professional and personal growth through e-learning. Coursedes furnishes a certificate on completion of the same.
Treehouse is an American online startup founded by Alan Johnson and Ryan Carson. It offers courses related to technology such as game development, web development etc.
Stanford Online is an initiative introduced by Stanford University based in California, the USA for students living in other countries. It offers online courses on medicine, civil and chemical engineering, design etc.
Academic Earth is a website founded by Richard Ludlow, Chris Bruner and Liam Pisano in 2008. It was set up with a belief that education must be accessible to everyone. It has tied up with universities such as Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to achieve its vision.
Online courses are slowly becoming a regular part of the education system of the world. All thanks to scientific developments. These courses are all that students want – inexpensive and interactive. Numerous students can enrol in an online course at once, unlike the traditional classroom where only a limited number of students are allowable. But still, there is a requirement of the same in rural areas where access to technology is still not available. Once made available though, there’s no stopping. Technology will then completely take over the current system of learning.
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