The Digital Direction: How Universities Have Made the Shift to Online Learning

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Are you getting ready to study? Perhaps you’re interested in the steps of becoming a nurse, a doctor, or an economist. You might be studying the arts, science, or pure mathematics. Whatever your course, it’s an exciting time, full of opportunity, learning and connection. However, nowadays, you may notice that many courses are offered only online or through a hybrid approach. In this informative article, we’ll explore digital directions, and you’ll learn how universities have shifted to online learning. We’ll also cover some of the key advantages that remote or hybrid learning offers students. Read on to learn more.

What is Online Learning?

An online course, or an online component of a hybrid course, is delivered wholly online. This means the lectures are usually live-streamed and recorded so students can watch them independently.

The discussion tutorials and classes are held via video conferencing software such as Zoom and are usually mandatory to attend. Any interaction between students and professors or tutors is usually done remotely, such as via phone, email, or video conferencing platform. In addition to this, there are usually discussion-style message boards or forums to encourage communication and collaboration between students.

What Prompted the Shift?

While online learning has been around as long as the internet (or close enough to it), there was one major factor that prompted colleges and universities worldwide to offer online learning, and that was the COVID-19 pandemic. With government restrictions implemented by many countries, higher education institutions had no choice but to offer online courses. Many also lost lots of revenue as international students couldn’t travel due to border closures. This meant that many universities had to invest in online learning platforms quickly, and the faculty had to learn how to work from home along with millions of other workers.

Investment in Online Technology

Offering online courses requires a significant investment in the technology that enables this learning method. Universities had to invest in video meeting software to enable students to study online and allow the faculty to meet, collaborate, and undertake their research. Institutions also needed to invest in online learning platforms, message forums, and other online infrastructure to offer students remote learning. They had to do this all quickly due to the rapid onset of the pandemic and the following restrictions. 

Investment in Online Technology
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Advantages of Online Learning

While not everyone’s preference, remote learning offers some key advantages. Let’s discuss them now. 

Remote Learning is Cheaper 

Due to lower overhead expenses for colleges, online qualifications are often cheaper when it comes to tuition fees and other associated student costs. This means you get the same qualification for less cost. A great benefit to this is that you’ll typically incur less student debt. International students who don’t qualify for student loans will pay much less than if they had to attend in person to pay for accommodation and other costs of migrating. This is a significant advantage, as most university degrees are expensive.

Online Learning Offers Improved Perspectives

Another advantage of online learning is that students often mingle with a diverse peer base, as you don’t need to live near the university or college campus to attend classes. This diversity of students provides an improved and widened perspective and various opinions and skills, which is essential for entering the workforce after you’re qualified.

A Shift in Focus – Less Distractions

Another benefit of the shift to online learning is that students now have more choice and control over how, when, and where they study. Because of this, they will have fewer distractions compared to studying on campus. For instance, with remote learning, students can attend lectures from their couch, fully relaxed, or in a quiet cafe or other location close to home. This comfort is invaluable to providing a great learning experience. 

This is a significant upside for students with conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, who need a calm, quiet environment without overwhelming stimuli to focus correctly.

An Online Student Summary

This helpful article has shared the digital direction and how universities have shifted to online learning. We’ve also covered some key advantages that online learning offers students, including cheaper tuition and a flexible learning approach. 

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