This article provides an overview of online education flexibility and how it benefits students.
1. Flexibility in Online Education
· Flexible learning environment
· Flexible learning schedule
· Flexible learning approaches
· Flexible learning pace
2. The Benefits of The Flexibility in Online Education
3. LightCourse - Brings Flexibility to Students' Lives
Over the past two years, the educational model worldwide has undergone a dramatic transformation. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, schools began implementing pandemic prevention rules that resulted in campus closures and a shift to online learning. With the loosening of covid policies in a number of countries, more students are returning to the campuses. However, more and more people believe that the more convenient and flexible online education model will become the mainstream education model compared to the traditional teaching model.
Flexibility in Online Education
To accommodate diverse learning styles and presenting methods, online courses are ideal since they can be tailored to each student's needs. In fact, one of the key reasons students find online courses intriguing is their flexibility. Students can have complete control and accountability for their studies thanks to the flexibility of online education.
Flexibility is a multifaceted concept. For students, this implies more convenient access to learning opportunities, greater choice of learning location, more control over their study schedules, and greater autonomy in managing their lives. On the other hand, for instructors, it enriches the course's pedagogy, produces new teaching resources, and introduces more varied and creative ways of assessing student assignments.
1. Flexible learning environment
The most significant difference between online education and the traditional teaching model is the format and location of the classes. Traditional teaching methods require instructors to deliver knowledge to students in a face-to-face session on campus. Online education is the opposite, as students do not need to go to a regular classroom to learn, they can learn with the help of a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Since online classes are delivered through the internet, online education is no longer limited by location and space, which creates a more relaxed and comfortable learning environment for students. Additionally, taking online classes helps avoid commuting. Instead of walking or driving to class every day and battling for a parking spot, online students simply walk to their computer or tablet and turn it on, saving time and effort.
Numerous international students have been unable to return to their school sites since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, owing to differences in entry and exit policies across countries or for a variety of other reasons. This is where the advantages of online education come into play. Students are able to take courses from the comfort of their own homes in their own countries without disrupting their regular academic schedules, thanks to the flexibility of online learning.
Taking Kenneth, a Londoner currently attending Columbia University in New York City, as an example, the pandemic forced the institution to move all of its classes online in 2020. Many students and faculty members, including Kenneth, were taken aback by the sudden shift. Due to the high cost of living in New York, staying in the city for online lessons when school was closed seemed like a bad idea. This led to his return to the United Kingdom, where he studied at home via distance learning for more than a year. He was apprehensive at first about learning via the internet. But when he got acclimated to it, he discovered that online classes provided him with a great deal of freedom and flexibility. Kenneth was able to devote himself to his studies and even get better grades. He could study when he was at his best during the day, and when he felt tired, he could always take a break and resume when he recovered his strength. On the other hand, he also has more time to spend with his family, an opportunity he has rarely had since he went away to college.
2. Flexible learning schedule
In addition to the advantages of space, the schedule of online classes is also flexible and changeable. Rather than being required to participate in a physical class, students can choose where they want to learn and when they want to learn in most cases. The flexibility of online courses allows students to arrange their learning around their schedules and assures that they are in an optimal state to study and thus improving learning efficiency.
Students in traditional face-to-face classes occasionally encounter scheduling conflicts, but this is not a major issue in online classrooms. Students can plan their schedules without having to worry about their availability. Work schedules, as well as social and family obligations, can cause study time conflicts. Students enrolled in offline courses may find it challenging to fit everything into their schedules. Students taking offline courses may have difficulty fitting everything into their timetables. Online courses are the best way to solve this problem since students can include almost anything in their schedules and be active students simultaneously.
For instance, Ziv is a Pennsylvania State University biochemistry student. His major necessitates a lot of lab work, therefore he frequently runs into scheduling difficulties with his mandatory courses and lab hours. So, to keep up with his academic plans last semester, he enrolled in physics and sociology classes online, which were recorded so that he could study whenever after he finished working in the lab wherever he wanted. In this case, the flexibility of online courses helped Ziv accomplish the required courses without interfering with his major laboratory courses.
3. Flexible learning approaches
Since different students have varied learning preferences, online courses with various modes and mediums have been expanded to meet all types of needs. Currently, many higher education institutions offer students a variety of online course options, such as live ("synchronous"), recorded ("asynchronous"), and self-paced courses.
· Taking a synchronous/live course implies students will be attending class via the internet utilizing tools such as Zoom video conference rooms on time according to the instructors' specified class hours, allowing learners to take classes remotely and interact with instructors and peers in real-time. However, the session hours are fixed, and students must adhere to them or risk failing the course. As a result, the target audiences are students who want to study remotely but want the course to seem more like a typical classroom experience, with more opportunities to interact with professors and classmates.
· In the case of asynchronous/recorded courses, instructors record their lectures in advance or during in-person classes, and students can watch the uploaded recordings whenever they want and finish the assignments before the due dates. Recorded courses are more flexible, with no constraints on location or class time. Within a set time limit, students have the freedom to study whenever and wherever they want. However, because the lectures are recorded, students may lack real-time engagement with instructors and peers in real-time, decreasing their sense of involvement. As a result, the target audiences are students who don't have a lot of schedule flexibility and can't attend classes at a set time, as well as those who want to view the courses repeatedly to have a better understanding.
· Self-paced courses allow students to consume educational materials at their own pace, as the name implies. Students have a lot of flexibility with these courses, as they may register and start classes whenever they like. Students have more freedom in completing their education because they are not limited by rigorous deadlines and can work on their own schedules. The most significant advantage of self-paced learning is that there are no time constraints. Students can review the course materials numerous times to ensure that they fully understand the content. However, self-paced courses usually consist of PowerPoint presentations and video clips with little interaction from the instructor. Over time, students may become demotivated if they do not have access to in-person tutors. As a result, students with highly tight schedules who are unable to study at a specific time and who desire complete control over their learning processes are the target audiences.
Furthermore, the wide variety of instructional material allows students to experiment with various methods of learning, such as video, audio, and interactive systems. Through the Internet, professors can use multimedia technologies to show students a variety of real-life scenarios that they rarely have the opportunity to observe on-site—for example, complex surgeries, experimental scenes of precision instruments, etc. Using multimedia technology, instructors can create various teaching materials to enhance students' interest in the subject. Students can also receive more rich and diverse learning content and absorb better knowledge. Also, due to the adaptability of online classes, courses that demand group participation rarely encounter trouble getting people together. Students have more flexibility in managing the size of the group and the people in it, which allows them to achieve a better outcome.
4. Flexible learning pace
The flexible nature of online education allows learners to learn at their own pace, regardless of location or even time constraints, ensuring that they fully comprehend their lectures before moving on to the next module, which can help relieve a lot of stress.
Before assigning assignments, instructors frequently run through concepts rapidly. This may put students under pressure to complete assignments fast, but it leaves no time for them to review or ask questions. If learners don't understand a concept or idea before doing an assignment, they won't be able to complete it to their full potential, obstructing their own learning. They might skip over sections of the course that they have already mastered and concentrate more on the sections that they do not comprehend. Students can make better use of their study time by viewing course content multiple times and thereby consolidating unknown knowledge points until they are confident that they have covered them completely, leading to better grades.
For example, Sara enrolled in an asynchronous (recorded) online social media marketing course that covered two important topics: how to use Google Trends and how to use Facebook Audience Insights. Her understanding of Google Trends was somewhat inadequate in comparison to Facebook Audience Insights, so she concentrated on that aspect of the knowledge before the exam and reviewed that portion of the lecture video several times. She has now successfully completed the course and has mastered all of the course's knowledge points.
The Benefits of The Flexibility in Online Education
Students benefit from the flexibility of online education since it allows them to acquire better time-management skills and become more self-disciplined while gaining valuable life skills that they may apply in the profession. For instance, students who enroll in an online course are expected to complete assignments and exams just like those enrolled in a traditiona·l classroom. Almost all work is submitted electronically, usually through platforms like Blackboard or Canvas. With little to no supervision or reminders, students are required to keep track of all requirements and deadlines and submit documents following the course schedule.
Using a stackable, personalized approach to learning can help students be ready for a specific professional faster than traditional in-class learning. Flexible derivative and intelligent learning systems can also guide students to the skills and lessons they need to develop and succeed, creating a curriculum for continuous improvement and blazing a trail for lifelong learning. This is something that is frequently overlooked in traditional education, when students are required to attend class all day long, making it difficult for them to focus on their own personal development. The allure of flexibility stems from the fact that it significantly impacts how students learn. It is critical for an individual's success to provide them the choice of how they learn.
LightCourse - Brings Flexibility to Students' Lives
LightCourse's mission is to empower students all over the world with the ability to receive high-quality education at any time and from any location. We collaborate with prestigious higher education institutions to offer over 7,000 official credit-bearing college courses to students seeking a more flexible approach to learning.
We give learners a selection of credit-bearing courses and programs presented in a variety of formats. LightCourse offers live ("synchronous"), recorded ("asynchronous"), and self-paced online courses covering more than 300 majors and disciplines. Students have the flexibility to choose the right course that best suits their needs. Furthermore, we have partnered with universities all around the world to develop study abroad programs that allow students to earn academic credits while immersing themselves in new cultures.
By connecting students with flexible, high-quality study and professional development opportunities, we assist them in broadening their perspectives and developing new abilities that will enable them to thrive in a global economy.
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