Opinion: Online learning should be the new norm


Photo courtesy of Getty Images. Student in online class.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions transitioned to online learning. Although this transition revealed the in-person learning styles possessed by some students, it also brought to light the advantages of online learning.

One of the main benefits of online learning is the flexibility offered. Online education encourages a greater balance thereof, particularly for those who manage multiple commitments at once–such as work, family life and school. Individuals can work at their own pace, which allows them to manage their obligations suitably while also optimizing the retainment of the information being taught.

As Northeastern University states, “You can work through the lesson plan at your own pace to ensure you’re mastering the material before moving on to the next section. This added flexibility allows online learners to move through the course work at their speed and get the most out of the degree program.”

Another advantage of online learning is time management and honing such skills. With the flexibility offered by online classes, students can create their schedules. It is up to the individual to stay on track with assignments and deadlines and learn how to manage the demands of said “self-paced” classes. Nonetheless, online courses allow students to plan and work ahead, which can be particularly beneficial for those who are also managing the demands of their career, such as travel. In the instance of travel, one can work ahead in their classes–if possible–to complete the necessary work, or they can bring their electronic device with them to keep up with their assignments.

The ability to bring school with you, and access it from wherever you are, is another notable benefit of online learning. Such unlimited accessibility encourages individuals to continue their education as they can essentially work at any time and place–a level of flexibility that allows them to fit school into their life and other commitments. As Melanie Kasparian, associate director of assessment at Northeastern College of Professional Studies, says regarding online learning, “Working on the train, during a lunch break, or in the morning—there’s no right time to study, as long as it fits your life.”

From my experience with online learning, I reaped the benefits of flexibility, balance and time management. I have spent the past three years of my educational career as an online student, and I can speak first-hand to the advantages. With the flexibility and “self-paced” nature of my classes, I have managed school, work and my personal life much more smoothly than I previously had when I was attending traditional brick-and-mortar schools. If a personal event or commitment demands my attention, I bring my computer with me and complete my school work during any free moment. Thus, where I previously had to miss the event–such as a wedding–due to needing to be physically present at school, I can now build my school schedule around the event to partake while also staying on track with my school work.

Online school also honed my time management skills and self-discipline, as it is essentially up to me to get the work done whenever I want or can, before the deadline. Lastly, the online school awarded me the opportunity to graduate a semester early from high school and kickstart my higher education, which is an achievement I will always be grateful for.

I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience with online learning. It is an important and beneficial option for those who want to continue their education without neglecting other aspects of their life, such as their career. With that being said, I think all educational institutions should offer an online option for all courses to encourage individuals to continue their education by providing a suitable environment and resources.