Increase in Adult Learners Online


by Krista Wallace

Increase in mature students using online learning to further their education

Online learning has created new opportunities for adults wishing to further their education whilst balancing a full-time job and home life. The National states that more and more professionals are turning to E-learning courses to gain qualifications in their field of work from the comfort of their own home.

The online learning market continues to grow around the world, and in the United States alone surpassed $100 billion last year. Online courses offer personal and professional development at the click of a button, and new virtual education facilities are becoming available at a rapid pace.

Whereas some brick-and-mortar universities offer an online curriculum alongside their standard courses, other universities such as the Open University in the United Kingdom and the Walden University in the United States offer a complete online learning model.

Many mature students are turning to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to further their education, as they are an affordable alternative to traditional universities, and offer more flexibility in terms of study and assessment deadlines. Most of these courses offer video-based learning. They are often used by graduates seeking to top up their skills in combination with their jobs.

Mature students are attracted to the concept of E-learning as it generally offers more flexibility than a traditional university course requiring physical attendance. Some online courses offer synchronous learning, where academic courses are offered via online lectures, tutorials, student forums and assessments with tutor feedback. Others offer asynchronous learning, where students can work to their own time-based deadlines, and often have no time restrictions regarding course completion.

Many MOOCs are offered free of charge and require great discipline from students to put in the hours and complete the work, which means there are often high dropout numbers on these courses. However, many professionals wishing to further their skills to improve their careers learn to balance their work, life and studies, often resulting in better time-management skills.

Online learning offers great opportunities to students around the world who don’t have locally available courses or who need a more flexible way of acquiring new qualifications. E-learning does not have to be limited to an academic nature, as many providers offer skills-orientated or fun-based courses which appeal to students of all ages. With an internet connection and a reasonable degree of computer literacy, students have access to a huge range of high-quality courses.

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