Distance learning is a hot topic in educational institutions around the globe. Gone are the days when to learn meant gathering in a room with other students with a teacher leading from the front. It's now possible to learn any place, anytime. This learning revolution impacts on everyone from school children to those in business and management.
To a large extent, it might be said that the learners themselves have led this revolution. Take this example; in a simple experiment, a group of sixth-form students were given half an hour to research a topic - using any method that they chose. When the students returned to share their results and to outline research methodologies, not one had gone to the college library. The vast majority (95%) had rushed straight to a computer. Two students remained and asked the lecturer if ‘any method’ meant that they were able to question the lecturer themselves about the topic. This was, of course, a viable method, but one that was only considered by a minority.
The example serves to illustrate the extent to which a whole generation have no doubt that research, and learning is viable online. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that the option to study for a degree online is a concept increasingly expected as the norm for many.
If we look at the speed of technological developments, even in the past twenty years, it's clear to see that we've witnessed the fastest rate of change and innovation since the Industrial Revolution. It was only in the 1980s that emails were unheard of and mobile phones resembled bricks. New technologies are no longer only embraced by ‘geeks’ - they are part and parcel of modern life. So, it stands to reason that if it is now possible to hold a business meeting via webcam with someone on the other side of the world, learning effective business or management skills online is also a viable option.
The opportunity to study for a business degree online or to sign up for a range of online management courses has never been greater. It's a sign of the times; as online traffic and user activity grows daily, so too does the availability of high calibre E-Learning options. For those in the workplace the chance to study online removes the need to take a sabbatical in order to gain career enhancing skills and qualifications.
Virtual learning opens new doors; not only in terms of how we learn, but also to an extent what can be learned. For example, since most jobs require ever increasing levels of IT competency, the very act of embracing distance learning should be seen by employers as significant evidence of these skills. Because online degrees are structured for ease of use, they offer the perfect chance to enhance technological E-skills discreetly.
E-Learning is here to stay. Whilst wikis and blogs can't replace the atmosphere of libraries and classrooms they are part of the vocabulary of twenty-first century life. The new door might be virtual, but it's never been easier to step through it.
Sarah Maple is taking marketing courses and is about to get her distance learning , online degree soon.