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Are Online Classes on Your Educational Path?

The quantity and quality of online classes is increasing. More than 50 percent of college presidents surveyed by Pew Research said that online courses provide the same value as do traditional classroom courses. With more people seeking alternative ways to learn, online classes are proving to be an effective solution.

Different Motivations for Learning

Online classes fill a variety of needs for people wanting to learn. For some, it’s a way to get back into education after a long absence. You may have postponed your education for years while volunteering overseas or while taking care of an ill family member. Online classes give you a way to see how studying feels again and can even help you decide how much of a course load you can manage.

You can refresh your skills or learn new ones through online classes. A course in bookkeeping from the community college, a boaters safety course at or an online art history class from a local art school can introduce you to some new ideas and skills.

Is Online Education Right for You?

A mistake people make is to think that online courses are easier than traditional education. In an online course, instructors may cover more material and may give out more assignments. Online students must be self-motivated and disciplined to study and complete the assignments. They often have other things going on in their lives, such as a job or family, and distractions are common.

Benefits of Online Classes

For those drawn to online classes, there are a number of benefits that make this style of education fit into their lives.

Degree programs are available through online education now, and more are being created. Business, healthcare, technology, human resources and criminal justice are some of the areas in which you can earn a degree online. This could be your first degree or an addition to a degree you already have. For instance, if you already have a nursing degree, you may choose to earn a business degree to work in nursing administration.

Online classes are often less expensive than other classes. Expenses associated with taking the class may be reduced. You don’t have to commute to a campus. Materials are often available for downloading so fewer expensive textbooks may be needed.

You can work classes around your job or family activity schedule. However, some classes will require you connect with the rest of the students at a specific time, such as for testing or discussion groups.

Another upside to online leaning is you can often work at your own pace. Spend more time on topics that are challenging. Put it down if you get stuck and work on something else. Come back to it later with a fresh set of eyes. Even most exams can be taken when you wish. You will normally have to complete the exam within some window of time, such as a week from the time it’s announced. But you can choose when to actually work on the test during that time frame.

When you are balancing responsibilities outside of online learning, you can choose the course load that works best for you. You can sometimes take a longer time to complete degree requirements so you can have time for the other important things in your life.

Author: Tim Burns

Tim is a high school educator from Billings.

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