It’s interesting how readily young people embrace the internet. For those of us in our middle years, the sheer volume of information that can be accessed by a few simple keystrokes or dabs of a touch screen would have boggled our minds 30 years ago.
Digital communications have handed us the keys to a virtual kingdom of data that is already shaping the way in which we learn and assimilate information. I don’t know about you, but I was initially mistrustful of the non-traditional online approach to higher education, but recent years have seen a huge boom in the legitimacy of online learning with a wealth of academic and vocational qualification available through digital channels.
While distance learning is nothing new (the UK’s Open University is actually the country’s largest learning institution and still a pioneer in distance learning), the range of courses available online from reputable accredited institutions has never been greater and more accessible.
Let’s have a look at some of the advantages of online learning and how it can help you take the next step in your career, or start all over again.
Online learning has some inherent advantages over its campus-based counterpart:
- Variety – Online courses from bachelor’s to doctorate level are available in just about any field of study.
- Lower costs – Online courses are generally cheaper than campus based courses as there are fewer overheads. You’ll also have no commuting costs and materials will often be made available to you for free as part of the course.
- Comfort – You’ll never be stuck in traffic getting to a virtual lecture. You can study from the comfort of your favorite armchair… In your pyjamas. In terms of comfort, online learning leaves campus learning in the dust.
- Convenience – Your studies can fit around your life rather than the other way around. You can work as many hours as you want and fulfill your parental commitments and manage your learning in your own time.
- Greater focus – Studying at home, you won’t be distracted by others and can concentrate completely on your learning.
- Seamless career advancement – You can learn alongside work with no suspicious gaps in your resume.
- No commuting – Many campus based learners spend hours travelling to and from campus which can be time consuming and potentially hazardous due to fatigue or weather conditions.
- Improves technical literacy – Older readers may have a very cautious relationship with technology. Even the most basic online courses will increase your proficiency and comfort dealing with computers.
Gaining new knowledge and skills
Many of us want to gain new knowledge and skills later in life but are reticent to do this in a campus environment. We’re all a little insecure when outside of our comfort zone and the prospect of strolling into a lecture surrounded by bright young things who may already be more proficient in our chosen field of study could be daunting enough to put us off.
Online learning allows you to learn at your own pace without comparing yourself normatively to others, and the sheer variety of online courses means that whatever field of study you wish to pursue, however esoteric, it’s within your reach.
Advancing your career
Many of us want to pursue continual professional development outside of the scope of what our current employers will fund (or allow). Fortunately there are a wealth of vocationally specific courses, such as this accredited RN to BSN program online course designed to help nurses expand their portfolio of skills and take the next step in their career.
Whatever your chosen field, chances are there’s a course out there that will allow you to take the next step in your career and wave goodbye to employers who have perhaps taken you for granted or under-invested in your development.
A career change in midlife can be a dauntingly disruptive experience for anyone. Even with an incredible support network it can be virtually impossible to gain new knowledge and skills without quitting your job and enduring a financially troubling interstice between careers. Online learning allows students to arrange their studies around their existing work and family commitments. The flexibility and control over the pace of your own learning makes it ideal for those who’d prefer to endure their current jobs while they study to allow themselves a little more financial stability.
The ability to manage our learning alongside work and family, combined by the lack of conspicuous gaps in our resumes will make us more appealing to potential employers.
Whatever preconceived notions you may have had about online learning, it’s definitely worth looking into courses that suit your interests. They could just change your life!
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