From correspondence courses and distance learning courses to internet education and e-courses, a revolution is brewing in the education system worldwide.
Today, the vast number of people opting for online study and online education not only consists of students but also professionals, who wish to upgrade their skills.
These lifelong learners don’t have the time or resources to do a formal degree in their subjects of interest. As a result, the demand for internet learning and online certificate courses has skyrocketed.
Online surveys reveal that the market for e-learning courses in India, which was valued at $247 million in 2016, is set to witness massive growth to $1.96 billion by 2021. The number of students opting for online education is also expected to grow from 1.6 million in 2016 to 9.6 million by 2021, a whopping 44% increase.
This clearly shows the preference of students for internet learning over traditional distance learning courses. What’s the reason for this preference?
To know that, you need to have a clear idea about the terms – correspondence courses, distance learning, online education and internet learning – that are often used interchangeably. Are they the same? No, they aren’t!
What Are Correspondence Courses?
Correspondence courses were a form of distance learning education system that has its origins in 19th century UK.
In the latter half of the century, the educational system in the USA followed in its footsteps and started offering distance education degrees to students before it spread to other countries across the world.
Correspondence courses offered home study materials through postal services that were later replaced by email. The courses mainly included vocational subjects like horology, gemology, floristry, camera repair and other subjects.
Earlier, only a few accredited distance learning institutions offered correspondence courses to people who weren’t in a condition to attend regular classes.
Today, correspondence courses are dying out and are only preferred by students in remote places who rely on the traditional system of education to get their degrees.
What Is Distance Learning?
Distance learning is a type of education that aims to train interested individuals to upgrade their skills without attending a regular classroom.
Both correspondence courses and e-courses fall under the category of distance learning education, which invalidates the necessity of real-time classrooms by providing everyone with a chance to learn across geographical barriers. As more distance learning centres emerged, both the range of courses and their availability increased.
At present, there are hundreds of distance learning universities in India alone, where you can find a vast number of courses ranging from computer and mass communication to distance learning master degree courses and PhD courses.
Although distance learning started with print-based learning and textbooks with occasional classes that students were expected to attend in person, the emergence of the internet initiated a completely different mode of education through e-learning courses.
Although there are many distance learning colleges offering distance education courses, their importance has greatly reduced because of the easy availability of online courses.
Now that you understand what each term stands for, let’s discuss how the traditional education system in India has evolved in recent years.
What Is Online Education?
Also known as online training, e-learning, e-courses and m-learning (mobile learning), online education encompasses anything that depends on the internet to train students and professionals in a virtual classroom environment.
With the growth of the internet and its widespread popularity, traditional distance education has switched over to electronic media. Today, online education is the preferred mode of distance learning for most people because of the convenience it offers.
This has greatly improved the interaction between teachers and students besides providing advanced study materials in the form of audio-visual lessons, instructional guides, video conferences, live chats, animations and more.
How Online Education Is Reshaping India’s Future
With widespread digitisation, millions of Indians now have access to the internet in every nook and corner of the nation.
High-speed internet services, cost-effective Smartphones and tablets and greater awareness are three main reasons for people preferring online education over the traditional methods of learning.
Further, the availability of a wide range of online diploma courses ranging from online journalism courses to online MBA courses has made it easier for working professionals to upgrade their skills without leaving their current jobs.
According to a KPMG report, students are also opting for the best internet learning platforms to prepare for competitive exams like JEE Main, NEET, CLAT, CAT and Bank PO. This trend of preferring online platforms over offline coaching centres is expected to witness a 64% growth by 2021.
Key players in the industry are utilising this trend to develop exam-specific mobile applications for the students, mostly hailing from remote areas, where a dearth of proper learning facilities is increasing their dependence on e-learning courses.
As a result, the number of online schools is growing and the trend of online study and exam preparation is getting more popular day by day.
E-Courses Are Becoming The Preferred Mode Of Learning
The availability of e-courses or short online courses has made it easier for students and working professionals to upgrade their skills and grow in their careers.
Those who want to get in-depth knowledge of a subject can opt for online certifications from accredited online universities like Learning Cloud online courses, Masterclass, and Udemy that offer expert courses on every imaginable topic.
Today, many of the distance learning universities in India also offer short-term online MBA courses, writing courses and even online courses for teachers, to give a fair chance to everyone interested in upgrading their skills or changing their career.
After all, why shouldn’t you be able to study from the comfort of home without wasting time and money commuting? This idea is creating a revolution in the field of education in India and worldwide.
In addition, the traditional education system fails to serve many students including those who are autistic, disabled or diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, because they are unable to conform to the (often unrealistic) expectations of educational institutions.
How To Make Online Education Work For You
Making online education work for you is essential if you actually want to benefit and use the degree to obtain a better station or more comfortable platform for your family to live on.
Time management is one of the main problems when it comes to completing your online degree, although personal circumstances and accessibility are others.
If you need to fit studying around an already existing job then it can be difficult to find the time, especially when it is put against individual circumstances such as managing a family, looking after elderly relatives or fitting it in alongside two other jobs.
Finding the time to fit it in could be a pain but it must be scheduled. For example, you could actually go to the library on your way to work three mornings a week, or on the way home. It is all about finding the right balance for you and this can easily be done as soon as a routine is established.
The secret to making an online degree or education work is all about how badly you want to do it. If you quickly become bored it will be a waste of money. The majority of individuals who do take online courses do want to complete them and often need to in order to advance their careers.
This is the secret to making the degree work for you. It may be worth writing down the most compelling reasons why you are doing it in a notebook so you can remind yourself of your “why” whenever you are losing the urge to study.
One of the major qualities required to complete an online course is the ability to work on your own. This is necessary as a result of the nature of the study, meaning YOU have to make it work for you. Nobody else will do that for you.
You must have the motivation and drive otherwise you’ll end up wasting time and money on something that was beyond you. Personal determination will see you through as long as you give it every chance to do so.
What Tools Do You Need For Online Education?
The standard of education is actually increasing and an individual is expected to have even more equipment as his or her disposal than ever before. This applies to online education students just as much as campus students, if not more so.
There is an entire list of equipment that you will need to ensure that you actually get through your course and perform all of the tasks and functions that they are supposed to do before set deadlines. The sooner you realise this, the sooner you can begin to budget for the tools that you will need to purchase.
All of the tools listed below are important and non-negotiable. They can also be extremely important in ensuring your success.
- Internet Connection
An online education student will always need an Internet connection. It also matters what type of Internet connection you have when it comes to actually spending time on the Internet to research material needed to complete assignments, papers and tests.
The internet may be the only way that you can actually access all of the information needed to complete your course, so make sure that you have a Broadband connection or something similar.
- Personal Computer or Laptop
You cannot work efficiently on the Internet without a computer. A laptop is often far more apt for an individual looking to complete their studies online because you can take it almost anywhere. If you cannot get work done at home, then you need to be able to take it to a coffee shop or a library and complete your work there.
- Course Texts And Other Materials
You must have the required texts and information to be able to complete all of the assignments given to you, but it may actually take far more money than you believe. Books are extremely expensive, even downloadable versions.
You will also need to pay for access to other resources online that may prove to be of value to you. Postponing this important task until the last minute means you risk not getting the materials you need at all.
It is important that you purchase your course materials before you start. This may affect your initial outlay but it will ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when you need to start your studies.
The materials costs also include purchasing access to online libraries and similar places that can provide you with old texts and documents that you may not be able to find in your local library.
Online Education Courses Are Disrupting Traditional Education
So, is the traditional system dead? Not yet! But it is being rapidly disrupted by internet education and e-courses. As more people take to online education, the traditional education system will slowly lose its importance.
YouTube has already made free education and tutorials on every topic available for anyone in the world keen on learning the basics of any topic under the sun.
There are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or free training courses online from some of the best educational institutions.
These MOOCs are helping students learn new skills for career development, changing careers, college preparations, supplemental learning, lifelong learning, corporate e-Learning and training.
Perhaps 30 years from now, students will mostly be seen on and around the campus, sitting with their laptops and attending e-classes, than actually spending time in classrooms.
Libraries won’t provide hard copies of books anymore, and most books will be digitized and available to read on any device, read aloud as audiobooks or available on YouTube as videos. Print books will become antiques and be stored away safely.
And who knows what the future of learning holds? With scientists making Matrix-style learning a possibility, we may soon be able to feed information directly into a person’s brain and teach them new skills in a shorter amount of time.
There’s no arguing that, with the pace at which technology is advancing, e-learning and e-courses are the future of education. It will be a massive wake-up call for those who believe that getting a degree from an elite university is the way to success.
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About the author:
Priya Florence Shah is the Group Editor at SHEROES and author of Devi2Diva, an emotional self-care book for women.