Different Kinds of Online Learning Experiences

Posted June 24, 2014 by
Computer keyboard with blue button for Online learning

Computer keyboard with blue button for Online learning. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The choice to earn an education online has become a common one for many students of all ages. The main attractive features include a smaller price tag, the flexibility of the schedule, especially for those who are working and going to school, and the ability to attend a college or university in any location regardless of where the student lives.

However, different schools and programs feature different kinds of online platforms. Here we explore a few different types of e-learning so that you can make the most informed decision.

The Heavy Tech Approach

Another approach being taken is actually creating a kind of virtual classroom with face to face interactions. Georgetown University has made their Master of Finance program available online by using this innovative approach.

It combines high quality video presentations and assessments that ensure engagement, and makes connecting with the faculty and other students simple with chat and video sessions. Now while they do take a more hands on approach this is still coupled with the desired online education trait of having a flexible coursework track.

The Textual Approach

Many programs use a platform which takes a textual approach meaning all interaction is done through discussion boards, blogs, chat sessions and email etc. There are options for students to upload their documents for grading, attach files to and images to discussion threads, and there is usually a search function that allows the student to find study materials based on their preferred learning style.

This approach does not include face to face interactions, however still usually adheres to some kind of timeline. For instance each course may be six weeks long. And while you do have the flexibility to complete the work when it is convenient for you, there still are deadlines that must be met in order to pass.

The Hands Off Approach

There are some education programs, like the Gunsmithing Certificate at Ashford University, that are very hands off as far as instruction and lecture go. Programs like these provide you the course work and let you learn and advertise a “learn at your own pace” curriculum. With this type of learning the program could be completed in just a few months, or the full length of time allotted. However this should not be confused with no schedules or deadlines. Most if not all online degree programs will have deadlines for completion.

There is no required interaction with a teacher or other students though it is available, and most of the learning is done by reading. The only time the student really needs to be online is when taking a test, which may or may not be a timed test.

The Mixed Approach

There are of course some programs the combine several types of e-learning creating many unique opportunities for earning an education online. It is always best to find out, before committing, exactly what the distance learning environment will be like so that you can make the best informed decision for yourself.

Dee attended Grand Canyon University online and now works from her home in Southern California. She writes about all things education and loves to visit the beach as often as she can.

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