The option to pursue an education online has been growing each year, as 29% of all Canadian university students registered in online courses in 2016.
Online courses make it possible for students to work around their own schedules, instead of attending class during a specific time period each week.
Gavan Watson is the Associate Director of eLearning in the Teaching Support Centre at Western University. Alongside his colleagues, he works with educators to figure out how they can consider incorporating technology into their courses.
“It’s pretty clear that the real benefit for online education for students is flexibility. It gives students the ability to learn according to their own schedule. And this is attractive for students who aren’t necessarily the typical undergraduate student who is straight out of high school.”
And thanks to technology, online education has evolved quite a bit.
“As instructors continue to understand the types of learning experiences that can be facilitated online, the online learning experience becomes a lot more engaging and interactive. What we’re seeing today is a lot more multi-media lessons, theres the ability to engage in interactive learning experiences – this is a whole lot more engaging than it used to be.”
Noah Welham is studying Theology at Masters College and Seminary. He spent his first year attending classes on campus in Peterborough, but before he started his second year, he decided to pursue his education online.
“It’s teaching me that learning never stops.”
He lives in London with his family and works full-time, saving money while he earns his degree.
“The greatest factor for me choosing online education was money. I wanted to continue going to school, but I pay for it myself so it gets tough when you have to pay for things like living expenses and tuition. When I realized that online education could help me save money while still earning my degree, I knew it was what I needed to do.”
While the process has been more convenient for him, Welham admits that online education is not easier than attending classes. It was a big adjustment to understand that school would not look or feel the same way it always had.
“Online education is a lot lonelier. I loved having discussions with my classmates and professors and hearing their opinions on anything. But now, I’ve been left trying to shape my own opinions with each assignment. Which is not all bad, because it forces me to do more research and actually find support for what I believe.”
Watson says that students can be just as successful studying online than in a classroom, but there’s one thing for online students to keep in mind.
“Don’t sit passively. Engage with your professors and ask them for direction. Ensure that you are on top of your learning experience. Be an advocate for your success.”