Online learning has changed dramatically in the last 15 years and has increasingly gained stature as a high quality mode of education. Initially, there were few online schools offering higher education and many were affiliated with for-profit organizations, not traditional not-for-profit and academically reputable accredited universities. Over time, perceptions of the quality of online learning have improved to the point where now, some online degree programs, especially in the health industry, are ranked with traditionally-taught programs and are respected by academia and industry professionals alike.
Increasing questions about the value of a traditional higher education compel many adult learners to consider if the collective advantages of online learning outweigh those traditional learning environments, often based upon costs. But there are also other reasons to consider personal and practical advantages to online learning. For medical professionals in particular, there are many benefits to a method of learning that has gained the respect and legitimacy of industry professionals around the world.
A Personalized Education
One part of online learning that is not often talked about is the fact that online students can actually receive a personalized education than they would in a traditional classroom where a one-to-many model is used to disseminate information in one direction primarily. Unlike traditional lectures where students learn passively to reproduce information meant for everyone who is receiving the same message, students in online learning environments participate actively in their learning with the expectation that performance surpasses reproducing information to producing information for the construction of knowledge in group learning environments where both one-to-one and one-to-many models are used.
Students’ presence in classes is established electronically in the form of their discourse in discussions: insights, claims, questions, and viewpoints through interactions with their student peers and instructors, as well as works like projects and research papers produced individually and in groups. Interactivity based on electronic communications engages them in learning that is personally relevant and meaningful.
Like traditional learning modes, online learning utilizes tests, projects, and group work to fulfill performance expectations, but without the physical constraints of time and place inherent to traditional education modes.
Study from Anywhere
A major advantage of online learning is the fact that one can apply to and if accepted, enroll with a college or university distant from wherever they might live. It no longer matters that you live in a small town far from major cities or universities. You don’t have to consider moving you or your family to another location. This is great for people in the medical field who are looking to add more education to a degree they might already have.
There are advanced healthcare degrees available from high ranking schools online now, which means you can work towards a masters degree while you remain in your current job. Many people have families, homes and work obligations that present conflicts to learning. Although online students must be actively involved in their learning, the constraints of time and place are mitigated sufficiently to enable active participation and facilitate learning from home, the workplace, or any other site where the requisite technological requirements are met.
Positive Results and Collaboration
People used to think online education was an exercise in isolation. They thought if you were taking online classes, you were on your own and needed to be able to figure everything out for yourself because no one was going to help you. As it turns out, the opposite is true. Many medical professionals taking online classes find it easier to make connections with fellow students than in a traditional setting. Some find it easier to text and email than to meet up in person or after class.
The Department of Education analyzed many studies that compared traditional learning with online learning and found students in online courses had more positive outcomes than those in traditional class settings. Online learning allows medical professionals to attain a degree without needing to change location or spend a vastly higher amount of money to relocate. Many health professionals who have families never had a real opportunity to go back to school until online education made it possible. Now, the doors have been opened to them and many are taking full advantage.
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