For centuries, society has followed a traditional form of education which focuses on a teacher-led, classroom centered, lecture type methodology. It has been mostly theoretical based and so many students have a hard time transitioning their learning into daily application. That is why, we often hear students complain “What good is this information for me in the ‘real’ world?”. If we be honest, most of us have posed this very question.

The traditional education system has been failing us and is not working to prepare us for the future we embark upon. With jobs transitioning to an online or technological enhanced format, many people are finding the skills taught in regular school aren’t enough to keep them relevant and on par with where businesses are heading. This is why we’ve seen a successful rise in online learning platforms, such as Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy, LinkedIn Learning and many more. Things are changing! The question is, will you be prepared or will you be left behind?

“The most successful people in life are the ones who ask questions. They’re always learning. They’re always growing. They’re always pushing.” – Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad)

Online education, on the other hand, is the delivery of education to students via the internet. Ever since the advent of technology most people have been torn between traditional and online education, which one is better? Truth is both forms of education have their benefits. We’ve seen decades of evidence regarding the traditional way of learning, however the future demands a better way.

Benefits of online education:

1. Flexibility

Students who take courses online will attest that this method of study has enabled a scenario where one can work a day job and still find time to attend to their online classes. For people with families or adults with other obligations, online courses provide flexibility around their busy schedules. This level of flexibility is priceless in today’s economy.

Expenses are rising and work pay isn’t keeping up. People have to work 2 jobs, do Uber or find a side hustle to help supplement their income. More families are living paycheck to paycheck. Being able to upgrade your skills and/or learn a side business that will generate extra income, has become a necessity to remain afloat in this world.

More than ever, companies are requiring employees to take courses or have extra online training to maintain being a valuable resource to the company’s future wellbeing. That’s why being able to take an online course around other obligations is necessary. You can learn at your own pace and on your own schedule. Our time is precious, so being able to accomplish multiple goals at once is invaluable.

2. Variety

Another benefit of learning online is there’s different types of programs you can take and what you can learn. You can find courses on how to cook, how to set up a budget, how to be a better public speaker, how to start an online business and much, much, more. Master’s Degrees, Doctorate Degrees, some of the highest level certifications are offered online in partnership with major colleges or universities.

With access to the internet, knowledge is at your fingertips. You can take 1 course, 2 courses or more…whatever you can handle. This allows you to set goals according to the plans and vision you have for your life and how fast you want to get there. It also allows you to receive certifications that you can add to your personal resume and can be used in other areas of your life.

Imagine, YouTube, a $15 billion dollar company, has made its money by creating a platform where how-to videos and DIYs are heavily searched and watched. The variety of knowledge spans so many niches and are taught by people from all walks of life and level of experience. This is great because weather you’re a beginner or an expert, you can find someone or create content that fits where you’re at.

In today’s digital economy, it’s no wonder online education programs are increasing in numbers. Their popularity shows that people need and are taking advantage of these online programs and are seeing the benefits of doing so.

3. Accessibility

A major benefit to online education is that once you pay for your course, most programs give you access to the material 24/7. This allows for people with all kinds of busy schedules to learn when it’s convenient for them.

There is no limitation to the number of times a student can expose themselves to a certain topic. So, if you can’t sleep at night, or you want to remember how to do something, or maybe you missed a lecture, students get to review it until they are sure they understand the material and are on the right track. Online education platforms usually have an online library whereby students can access all reading materials that they want and even the course notes or outlines. This supplementary information helps to reinforce the knowledge learned and ensure all concepts are understood.

Whether access is for a set period of time or 365 days or longer, being able to revisit the information is an added benefit to online education.

Accessibility also benefits those who have learning difficulties or accessibility issues. Today’s computer software offers special features that aid with this. For examples, type to text, video speed control, captions and more. These make accessing knowledge online easier than most conventional methods.

You may have heard how technology has played a great role in supporting students who learn differently. Not everyone is in the same box. Some are slow learners, some learn better visually, some are auditory learners, some need to move around a lot and take several small breaks and some need hands-on learning.

Many video games that have our children and to be honest, many adults addicted, are best setup this way to engage and stimulate the mind. They are designed to activate certain parts of your brain via various stimuli. That being said, Why not, use these same tools to aid in your own personal growth and improve what you learn?! Online education programs know no borders, so people from different countries can access teachings by specialists from all over the world. It’s AMAZING!

4. Relevance

One thing I’ve noticed is that mainstream education takes longer for changes in the curriculum to take effect. There are so much more steps involved to change a whole college or university program. Even with elementary or secondary education, it can take years for textbooks to be updated, course material to change and be vetted.

On the other hand, online education programs pride themselves on keeping upto date with changes in the digital arena. As we know, technology changes so fast and in order to stay relevant and meet the needs of participants, online programs are always updating their information as laws change, technology changes and the needs of people changes.

It’s one the greatest things, when what you are learning you can apply instantly – whether it’s learning how to build a website, start a business, internet marketing – most times online programs provide the most upto date information for you to be successful. They want you to succeed and with competition for your business being high online, they need to stay relevant to keep you happy and engaged.

5. Community Chat Forums

Since you don’t physically go to class for online courses, most programs have a chat forum component that allows for students to engage with one another and the teacher about the material being presented. You can ask questions, get feedback and support while working through the courses and applying what you’re taught.

They often create a safe place where students can share their thoughts, feelings and ideas and connect with others. For those who are shy or introverts, this forum helps them feel more comfortable asking a question or sharing a point of view online than in person. This leads to more engagement, networking or collaborative opportunities and can build friendships for life.

6. Affordability

As I mentioned earlier, the financial situation of most people today isn’t the greatest. They are living paycheck to paycheck but know they need or want to learn and develop themselves more. Online education is an affordable option. The content is targeted and meets the need of the buyer.

Because students don’t use lots of the school’s physical resources, the overhead is low. These savings are then passed onto the customer which makes it a viable option. Whether you’re the teacher or the student, online programs keeps money in our pockets.

Another thing is that online education is doable from wherever one is, this means issues like transportation to and from school becomes an expense that is gotten rid of. Also, paying for lunch meals is eliminated because you may study from home instead of buying at the school cafeteria. The affordability is immense.

7. Personal Accomplishment

The personal development industry has catapulted over the last several years. From self-help books and workshops by top motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, to high performance specialist Brendon Burchard, we see that people are searching for ways to improve themselves and their lives.

These events can cost lots to attend in person, however most organizations like these offer online components or access for a reduced fee. Being able to access these webinars or trainings online has become an asset to the popularity of these companies.

Most adults after graduating from high school don’t receive additional qualifications. When you invest in yourself and take online education programs which teach you transferrable skills, you become more valuable both at work and in your life goals. Being able to print and hang a certificate that says so, is an added achievement. It’s a concrete, physical reminder of the knowledge you’ve gained. This too can be added to your personal portfolio or resume.

I, myself, paid for a course that taught financial literacy to my children. Once completed, we were able to print out a certificate, frame it and hang it on their walls. It’s amazing how being rewarded for your efforts and being proud of that, helps to trigger a desire to learn more. My children are proud of their extra certificates which they wouldn’t have earned in the traditional school system. You too, should be proud of the courses or online programs you complete. Celebrate the baby steps, it’s all part of your journey.

Why having digital skills and being adaptable is necessary for future success?

In closing, the digital age is now. The current pandemic situation has forced people to realize that at times it takes technology to survive. Studies are now mostly being done online because people’s movements have been highly restricted. Businesses have also had to come to a standstill in physical locations and have had to move to online spaces.

It is only those people who have digital skills that have been able to keep on with their normal schedules without so much interruption. Even being able to setup a zoom call to check in with loved ones around the world, takes some technical skill. Now stop and reflect on how the pandemic affected your current lifestyle? How did your life change? How did businesses you regularly shop at change? Were they able to keep up? What could you have done to be better prepared?

In the future, we are moving towards a place whereby technology is going to be a mandatory aspect in each and everyone’s life. What this change, the sooner people adapt to the digital age the better for their future success.

It is only those who have embraced technology and who recognize the need to stay up to date and relevant will be able to contend competitively at their jobs and with their own future goals. Therefore, it is time digital skills become mandatory skills for students right from school, so that as they transition into the job market they can move at par with the rest of the world. We too as adults, need to do the same, adapt a mindset of growth and learning so that we can remain valuable in our future world. Will you be ready?

“I’d rather welcome change than cling to the past.” – Robert Kiyosaki