What is Online Education and How Does it Work?

Online education is a way of gaining knowledge and skills through electronic devices such as computers, mobile phones, laptops, etc., using the Internet. It enables tutors or mentors to reach all students more flexibly and teach them relevant skills more efficiently. The virtual learning experience is delivered through computer software, online course content, or a combination of both methods. Instructors communicate with students via online video (live or on demand), forums, instant messaging, and email.

The virtual class can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This makes it time-efficient for professionals who juggle work, family, and study schedules to participate in discussions. Students can access their courses at any time of the day or night and have ongoing access to lectures, course materials, and class discussions. This is especially convenient for those who need to reread a lecture or take more time to reflect on some material before continuing.

For example, students enrolled in the Engineers PRODUCED in Virginia program at the University of Virginia can complete all of their engineering classes online in a live format while gaining hands-on experience through strategic internships with employers across the state. If the convenience and flexibility of distance learning appeals to you, it's important to find a school with a proven track record of quality online teaching. Students taking a degree program or an individual online course will continue to be evaluated at regular intervals during their study period to assess their understanding of the course materials. With the latest techniques available, teachers can create engaging content for their online classes. Asynchronous online education gives students control over their learning experience and allows flexibility of study schedules for non-traditional students; however, this imposes greater accountability on the student. Sometimes, management cannot look beyond the bottom line and view online programs only as ways to increase income, and therefore makes no commitment to providing quality education to people who might not otherwise be able to access it.

This allows an online institution to benefit from the specialized knowledge and technology that an online provider can offer, while the online institution can offer validated degree courses through the physical institution. Online learning has its most promising potential in the high synergy represented by the active dialogue between participants, one of the most important sources of learning in a virtual classroom. Some users pay a flat monthly fee for their Internet connection, while others are charged for time spent online. Online universities often offer classes and simulations that help students gain computer skills before starting their studies. Adult education literature supports the use of interactive learning environments as a contribution to self-direction and critical thinking.

The curriculum of any online program must be carefully considered and developed for it to be successful. The number of distance and online education degrees in most disciplines is large and rapidly increasing. Online education has its limitations as well; it may not be suitable for younger students (elementary or high school age) and other students who are dependent students and have difficulty assuming the responsibilities required by the online paradigm. Even if a virtual teacher is competent enough to create a comfortable virtual environment in which the class can operate, the lack of physical presence in an institution can be a limitation for an online program. With improved software, hardware and Internet access, more options for online education will become available.