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What's so great about online learning?

Gaye WalkerBenefit #1: Flexibility.

Online learning, sometimes called e-learning, offers many advantages for both students and teachers. It's been embraced by schools and universities, retail chains, top corporations, and among professional trainers. The most obvious benefit of online training is its flexibility, which allows learners 24/7 access from anywhere with an Internet connection. Online learning providers can offer timely, focused courses that enable students to fit learning time into their schedules without taking time away from work for travel.

Benefit #2: No travel time.

Time is probably the greatest limitation on learning. In a traditional classroom or seminar, both instructors and students must commit to spending a specific amount of time at a specific location, and they must both spend time traveling to arrive at  that location. E-learning courses can be developed by the instructor anywhere, at any time, made available online, and accessed by the learner anywhere, at a convenient time and duration... and no one has to spend time traveling.

Benefit #3: No travel expenses.

In a traditional classroom or seminar, both students and instructors must spend money traveling to a specific location, and may also have the expense of hotels for overnight stays, meals in restaurants, and other travel expenses. Online learning is available 24/7, from any computer, and involves absolutely no travel costs. (Another way to cut back on travel costs is onsite training, where you bring the training directly to your PHA and also enjoy the advantages of customized learning.)

Benefit #4: Self-paced learning.

Online learning allows students to schedule time for learning around their personal and professional work, resulting in flexible learning. It's also self-paced, which allows the learner to move quickly through material that comes easily, then spend more time on demanding material. It's easy to jump back and review earlier lessons, or consult resources (such as a glossary or reference document) when necessary.

In a traditional classroom, if a student gets distracted or misses something the teacher said, one of two things will happen. The student will ask a question and the teacher will stop, go back, and reiterate, delaying the rest of the class; or the student won't ask the question and therefore will not receive the full benefit of the instruction.

When a student gets distracted during online training, it's easy to go back and repeat that section again. It's a lot like skipping back to the part of the movie you missed when you had to get up and answer the doorbell.

Benefit #5: Immediate feedback.

E-learning uses interactive exercises and online quizzes to reinforce learning and provide immediate feedback for students. Most online learning allows the student to repeat all or part of a course if they feel they haven't grasped the material fully. In many cases, upon scoring poorly, learners are encouraged to repeat portions of the material, then retake the quiz or other evaluation to reinforce the material and achieve a better score. Students can also self-evaluate their learning, using immediate feedback to identify the concepts they failed to grasp, then reviewing or repeating those parts of the course.

Benefit #6: Development/reinforcement of computer skills.

Online learning helps develop and sharpen computer skills, using technologies that are vital for success in the 21st century. These skills are transferable to other areas of learners' personal and professional lives. Successful completion of online courses builds self-knowledge and self-confidence and encourages students to take responsibility for their learning.

Gaye Walker has been an instructional designer at Nan McKay and Associates for more than a decade. She specializes in the design and development of online courses and tools that provide PHAs with flexible training options.

Our partnership with HTVN provides students with the opportunity to enjoy many training options for both the Section 8/HCV and public housing programs. Visit their website to view available classes.