Why you should care about online learning

From shopping to banking to watching TV, we live in an era where everything has moved online, and education is no different.

The number of students taking online courses only continues to grow as more options become available. With students citing flexibility as one of the key benefits to online learning methods, and people working longer hours, it’s not surprising that the need for flexible study has increased.

However, we’ve now surpassed the early novelty of flexibility and convenience as drivers for studying online and stepped into a new world debate of classroom vs online studying. Whilst the two study methods have been placed in opposing corners, the truth is, neither is perfect.

We sat down with Stuart Pedley-Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, to explore why online learning isn’t ‘new’, how it has been designed at Kaplan and ask what type of student it is best suited to.

Firstly, it’s not new

This notion that online learning is ‘new’ is a thing of the past. The ‘bite-size’ or ‘Youtube-style’ video learning has been part of Kaplan’s OnDemand study method for nearly two years – and the results speak for themselves. It has produced some of the highest pass rates for the qualifications it has been rolled out on and the enrolment numbers are increasing every month.

These results have led to award-worthy recognition this year: a PQ Award for “Online College of the Year”, and “Best use of e-learning” at the AAT awards.

Stuart Pedley-Smith, said: “It’s important students appreciate that putting something online doesn’t make it good, there is a lot of poor online content out there. What makes a good online course is how it’s designed.”

It’s driven by data

It’s a common misconception that online learning is a second-class substitute for classroom study. In fact, most online learning programmes have been created from a ‘student-first’ model.
Stuart explains: “When teaching in a classroom, the experience itself teaches you what students understand and what they don’t. However, the problem that we’ve got is that it’s momentary.”
With an online learning platform, like Kaplan’s OnDemand, we can gather statistical information on what is working and build on it.”

Which leads us onto…

It’s evidence based

Kaplan’s OnDemand study method has been designed using evidence based learning. What this means is that our team of expert ‘instructional designers’ work with our classroom tutors to create an online learning platform that is based on data gathered from real students.

“It means rather than giving guidance based only on experience, which is still hugely important, we can give guidance based on evidence.” Stuart said.

It’s for the motivated

It’s no secret that online learning is most suited to those who want to study at their own pace. Some of the benefits of online learning include flexibility, you can study whenever, wherever you want, it’s self-paced, meaning you can study at your own pace, quickly when something is easy and slowly for the more tricky areas – making it a truly personalised learning experience.

That being said, it doesn’t come without its negatives, which include procrastination and isolation. A student who puts things off and doesn’t like studying alone, would be more suited to a method which allows for constant discipline and structure – like you’d get in the classroom.

Stuart said: “Take getting fit as an example, some people will have a personal trainer who meets them at the gym at 6am, whereas others don’t need that discipline and will motivated to workout themselves.”

Students come in different shapes and sizes

We are all neurologically the same. It’s how we process, perceive and store information which makes us learn differently.
When you’re trying to find out which study method is best for you, think about what type of learner you are. Where do like to study? In a group, on your own, do you prefer to learn in the morning rather than in the evening, and are you good at sticking to a timetable.

Stuart said: “Science tells us that if you can tailor the learning to the individual then the individual will learn better.”
Interested in studying with a learning method that has won several awards and has exceptional pass rates? Sign up for the free demo now or find out more here.

Kaplan is the UK’s leading global provider of diverse education and training.

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