Today’s job market has seen a dramatic shift. Fifty years ago good jobs did not necessitate a college degree, however, in today’s world, 9 out of 10 new American jobs created in the last year went to those with a college degree. This indicates that there is a growing reliance on an educated workforce.
In order to stay competitive and increase their marketability, workers are seeking flexible options for continuing education and professional development. For many, this means online education. The average age of an online student is 32 years old, a population that includes parents, professionals, and everyone in-between. In order to cater to this large and diverse student population, higher education institutions are increasingly building out their online learning programs.
Online Learning Advantages & Challenges
Online learning has its advantages for today’s students, providing:
- Availability: learners are no longer bound by time and location
- Affordability: online education is often less expensive than traditional education
- Flexibility: learners are not constrained by a fixed schedule and can better balance personal and professional obligations
Just as the online learning environment is unique, so are the challenges in creating a successful program. Many online learners experience difficulties using course technology and struggle with self-motivation and discipline. They also have difficulty adapting to reduced engagement with instructors and fellow students. Learners with disabilities like dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and vision loss, or those completing coursework in a second language may have special difficulties with text-intensive online learning courses.