Online Learning Opportunities

What Are Online Learning Opportunities?

When people explore online learning opportunities, they learn by using Internet-based resources on their computers or other electronic devices. Sometimes people complete an entire educational program online. Sometimes they learn partially through online programs and partially in a classroom. Sometimes they use online sources to train for their current or future careers. Other times, people use online resources in more informal ways, such as perusing instructional videos and websites to teach themselves new things.

Online programs differ according to the type of program being offered and the subject matter being taught. Colleges and vocational schools often provide online programs in addition to their more traditional form of classroom instruction. Other schools only offer online instruction. Depending on their needs, students can take a single course or complete an entire degree online.

School districts that educate younger students often offer online instruction in addition to other forms of instruction. Teachers might use online instruction to teach a specific lesson or to communicate with other teachers, students, or special guests through video or forms of written communication. Teachers and students can also use online tools as part of the testing process. In the United States, homeschooled students can receive online instruction from kindergarten through the twelfth grade. These students can eventually obtain an online high school diploma.

Employers use online programs to train and to inform their employees. New workers at Florida International University go through an online orientation process. Similarly, Subway University is an online program that trains new workers at Subway restaurants. Organizations also use online programs to teach their employees new work tasks or safety measures.

Students taking online courses have a full range of people and resources supporting the experience.

Students taking online courses have a full range of people and resources supporting the experience. ILLUSTRATION BY LUMINA DATAMATICS LTD. © 2015 CENGAGE LEARNING®. U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology.” National Education Technology Plan (2010).

What Is the History of Online Learning Opportunities?

Michele Won works with professor Harold Riggs at Mass Bay Community College in a computer science course that is designed in conjunction with online learning from MIT. Students watch video lectures on their own through an edX MOOC (massive open

Michele Won works with professor Harold Riggs at Mass Bay Community College in a computer science course that is designed in conjunction with online learning from MIT. Students watch video lectures on their own through an edX MOOC (massive open online course) and then attend class at their community college where the professor helps them do their homework. MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN/THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR/GETTY IMAGES.

PLATO featured literacy programs and materials for educational courses. The system used TUTOR, a programming language that enabled people to create and to use educational software. Users could also use PLATO to communicate with each other before the advent of electronic mail (e-mail). The PLATO system featured message boards, chat rooms, instant messaging, and other features that connected computer users to each other. Decades after the creation of the PLATO system, PLATO educational software continued to educate computer users.

Other online learning opportunities emerged as more people and organizations began to use computers and the Internet. While the Internet has existed in various forms since 1969, the emergence of the World Wide Web in the 1990s made the Internet easier to use for a greater number of people. The World Wide Web allowed people to learn through processes known variously as web-based training and e-learning.

What Are Some Parts of the Online Learning Process?

As with any course of educational study, you should research online programs and the programs’ sponsors to determine if they are legitimate and whether the programs can help you achieve your educational, professional, or personal goals. You should determine if you need to do any prior work before participating in the programs. You should also find out if these programs relate to any of your other studies. Some online programs, for example, give students credit for previous studies.

To complete a more formal online program, students typically have to enroll in an educational program. Some colleges, universities, and vocational schools have online programs in addition to more traditional programs where students have to attend courses in person. Other online programs exist entirely online. Once students are enrolled in an online educational program, they usually register for the individual courses they need to complete the program.

Online Learning Opportunities

Once enrolled in an online course, a student typically logs onto password-protected pages associated with the sponsoring institution and the specific course. Online instructors post their syllabi (course descriptions), reading lists, and other materials on these pages. Online courses often emphasize communication through written materials, such as written instructions from teachers and writing assignments from students. This instruction can also be more visual and interactive, as instructors can post video lectures and students can communicate with their instructors and each other through e-mail, message boards, or software applications such as Skype, which allows both audio and video conversations.

Upon completion of an online program of study, a student can receive a certificate of completion or an associate's, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree. Students who have proof of these completions then often take one or more examinations to earn certification. This certification can help people find new careers or advance in their current careers. People can also use their online certificates or degrees to attain additional education.

What Are Some Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning?

An advantage to online learning is that it is available to a lot of people. In addition, it enables people to share information easily. In 2014 a consortium of school and service districts expanded online offerings for students in the state of Washington. The new course offerings included elective, language, and advanced placement classes. The Washington consortium used Plato Courseware, an educational service related to the University of Illinois's groundbreaking PLATO system.

Sometimes instructors guide students in person through their online work. A college instructor might assist a computer lab full of students. The instructor is at the lab to provide help, answer questions, and give feedback to students. This instructor does not have to teach the same material to all the students at the same time but can assign specific online assignments to specific students, who can then learn at their own pace.

Remote learning is not always flexible, though, because online learning programs can be categorized in terms of time. Students might be enrolled in synchronous online programs. Synchronous programs require their users to be online at a specific time. This differs from asynchronous programs, which do not require students to go online at a certain time or place. Other programs combine both synchronous and asynchronous elements that require students to work both at specific times and at times of their own choosing.

What Are Some Kinds of Online Learning?

What can students learn online? A lot. Students in online programs associated with universities can earn degrees in subjects such as business, engineering, art history, communication, English, health, economics, and psychology. Technical institutions feature a host of equally varied online programs, offering degrees in areas of study such as technology, business, and criminal justice. Vocational institutions offer online instruction along with on-the-job instruction. These institutions provide students with online instruction covering diverse fields such as health and medicine, computing, the food and hospitality services, construction, cosmetology, and agriculture.

Online Learning Opportunities

A number of other kinds of online learning opportunities exist. Institutions such as Stanford University in California, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Oxford in England offer Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. MOOCs are free online courses in a number of subjects that feature video lectures, assignments, examinations, and areas where students can discuss topics with one another. Like other types of online instruction, MOOCs cover a variety of topics, including ethics, literature, and chemistry. People successfully completing MOOCs often receive proof of their completion, usually in the form of a certificate.

Online Learning Opportunities

Blog: A website on which an individual or group records opinions, information, etc. on a regular basis. Short for web log.

Other informational Internet sites offer different forms of instruction in a wide range of topics. Theses site might be more formal. An educational organization might operate a site that provides resources for educators of special needs students. Instructional websites can also be informal, such as blogs

MOOC videos and other instructional videos are often posted on Internet sites such as YouTube, a free public site for sharing videos. Internet sites like these can provide a wealth of learning opportunities in a seemingly infinite range of areas. For example, videos posted on YouTube can teach users how to use different computer programs, speak various languages, or bake cakes. Like MOOCs, users do not pay to watch YouTube videos. Unlike MOOCs, sites such as YouTube allow both experts and amateurs to post videos.

How Can I Find and Pay for Online Learning Programs?

Not surprisingly, online searches are a good way to find out about online learning programs. You can study the sites of online training programs to determine if the programs are right for you. You can also look for online reviews posted by people who have already studied in such programs. These reviews might tell prospective students whether the online programs helped them or whether they found the instructors and administrators effective. The Internet might also include articles from periodicals that analyze online learning programs in general and the institutions that offer such programs.

Online Learning Opportunities

If you are curious about online programs at colleges and schools, consider scheduling an in-person, phone, or online appointment to speak with admissions counselors or other people affiliated with online programs. You can also visit public libraries and college libraries to find books and periodicals that discuss online programs. Libraries also often have computer labs where library patrons can participate in online training or access the Internet to find information about such training.

Online Learning Opportunities