Online learning has been an incredibly popular topic in recent years.

Both students and teachers have embraced the power of the internet to create an online education industry that is flourishing in the new high speed, multi device world. Education no longer needs to be restricted by location, wealth, time or status.

Brands like Shaw Academy are constantly innovating, adding new courses and teaching methods at every possible opportunity. This movement allows online learning to be right at the forefront of teaching, constantly being updated, refined and improved based on instant student feedback.

To explain just how important online education is, it is important to first understand the key benefits, which we will outline in this article.

1. Live and Interactive

All too often overlooked in terms of online education, this is an absolute necessity when considering participating in any educational event. We are all familiar with educational recordings--a one sided barrage of information which does not allow any discussion, any interaction. As humans, we are naturally inquisitive creatures. We are intelligent enough to stop and ask a question if we are unable to understand something. This is not possible with most web-based fields of study, so students can find themselves lost and simply unable to regain the ground which they have lost.

At online learning communities like the Shaw Academy, all courses are broadcast live by expert educators. Furthermore, an expert support team remains on hand throughout each live event to ensure that all questions asked actually receive an answer--in real time. This facility leads to a higher standard of education, and a higher success rate amongst students.

2. Availability

Availability is now considered to be one of the cornerstones of online education. Traditionally, education is restricted to specific physical establishments; schools, colleges and universities. If, for any reason, a student is unable to attend one of those locations at the required relevant intervals, they might not feel that education is an option for them.

Online learning changes all of this - courses are now available from anywhere, regardless of your geographical location.

A student using their mobile phone in Mumbai can have the same experience as someone learning from their home office in London. The time differences don't matter either. The publication of learning materials online means that they are consistent whenever and wherever the student chooses to review them.

This represents a larger shift than education moving to a location independent model. This allows a wider range of people to get involved in education, and to ultimately improve themselves.

3. Price

The second advantage of online learning is the overall cost of study, indeed, for many people this is the primary barrier to education. The average cost of a college course in the USA is $36,564 per annum. For a lot of families and students, this is simply unaffordable. Others students may see the debt which can be incurred with education based loans as unsustainable.

Simply put--traditional education is expensive!

Online education provides a perfect solution to this problem. The number of students enrolled on a course can increase dramatically when it's being taught online, without degrading the quality of the student experience.

Teaching online will also reduce the costs to the educators--who are then happy to pass on those savings to students. The lower price of online education also means that it allows a wider range of people to further their education. The prohibitive cost of traditional education has led to thousands and thousands of engaged students being forced to leave education. Online courses provide them with the opportunity to stay and complete their course of study!

4. Variety & Practicality

The digital revolution has allowed variety to play an increased role in our daily lives. We have access to so much information on so many topics, that we can usually find an answer to any question we have. Applying this principal to online education is quite simple as, under normal circumstances, students will be able to find a course that exactly matches their needs.

Typically, with offline education, it can be tempting to take a more generic course that covers some aspect of what the student would like to learn. Online learning allows students full control over what they want to study. From art, to music, to marketing, or to business, to photography, and to zoology, the world of online education can offer more choice to a wider range of students than traditional educational formats ever could.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, educators from all over the world can contribute to these courses. If the very best professor in the world on the subject of "Cat Behaviour" only teaches at one university, how far might you have to go, and how much might you have to spend, in order to participate in his courses? Online learning gets rid of these issues.

Secondly--in the same way that online education is open to a much wider range of students, it is also open to a much wider range of educators. Not only does this allow more courses to be created, it also leads to a greater variety of topics being covered in online courses that in traditional education centres.

However, none of this would matter if the education provided was not of a highly practical nature. Any course being considered needs to be delivered by an industry professional, someone who is on the forefront of cutting edge, real world skills--not someone who has constantly immersed themselves in theory, without any regard of experiencing actual relevant events. This is a vital consideration which can oftentimes be overlooked to the detriment of the student.

5. Flexibility

Online education gives students true flexibility in the way they want to study.

This is what Shaw Academy uses as one of the key benefits on their website and it is certainly something that online education gives students, which has not been seen before in traditional education formats.

Similarly to the first point made in this article regarding availability, the flexibility to study your chosen subject from anywhere, at any time, is incredibly attractive to students.

It allows study to take place around existing commitments, and according to the student's schedule, rather than the educators. This is something that traditional education formats have never managed to achieve. One of the most common examples of this is a student who is already in some form of employment. Employers are often reluctant to start giving their employees time off to study.

Online courses allow students to learn on their terms. If you want to get up early and listen to some lectures before work, you can do it. If you want to make the most of your daily commute and watch a seminar recording, you can do it.

This flexibility is absolutely key in helping to make education more accessible to more people around the world and it is exactly why online learning is, in my opinion, the future of education.

Online education has bought the wonders of learning to a new generation. It provides potential students with opportunities that would not have been available to many of them, even 5 years ago.

There is a wider choice of courses available, which can be studied whenever appropriate for the student, in a format that suits them. Online education centres like Shaw Academy will continue to work hard in order to innovate and open doors for all students around the world to improve themselves.

There are clearly some real benefits to online education when comparing it to traditional educational formats. I believe taking advantage of this digital revolution will only improve education around the world and drive students forward.

Published on: Sep 30, 2015