THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA: EVOLUTION OF DIGITAL PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION

Online study programs are usually structured to suit specific academic and professional needs of students allowing enormous flexibility for students to combine studying with other commitments and obligations ultimately to allow individuals to effortlessly acquire knowledge and improve themselves without compromising their regular schedules. Indeed, a greater percentage of students studying via online programs are working professionals, young and old, desirous of honing their skills, advancing their careers or changing professional direction. Regardless of the fact that, studying online comes with deadlines within which assignments and projects are submitted, students can take classes and carry out schoolwork anytime, anywhere.

Signing up for an online study program offers more momentous advantages, juxtaposing it with attending traditional campus or classroom based learning. The convenience of learning at home, in the office or even on-the-go, remains a unique selling point for institutions offering students, especially working professionals, an opportunity to acquire knowledge via the internet and other technology driven platforms. Classes are not restricted. One can attend lectures anywhere at any time, as far as they have access to a computer and the internet.

An online study program is simply a structured education process in which students study through the use of the internet and technological solutions and have little or no physical interactions or contact with instructors, with lectures, exams and much of the reading is done on the web using various study management portals. As much as online education and traditional classroom based learning share the fundamental objective being; imparting knowledge and skills with a certification or degree crowning the efforts upon successful completion of courses, they have significant variations. Key among the differences between online and classroom study programs is the Internet-based curriculum.

Increasingly, online or digital education is attracting a lot of popularity with continuous improvement in quality, standards and learning approaches, mainly because several educational institutions, including traditional colleges and universities are drifting towards this learning option. In this age and era of technological evolution, an increasing number of people desiring higher/further education are turning to online education not only because it’s a convenient option, but also because it’s  usually economical and more practical. The increasing demand for online education has culminated into the saturation and highly competitive sector globally, especially in developed societies, compelling institutions to maintain quality and high standards in course delivery. In fact, various surveys indicate that online students are more likely than classroom-based students to: participate in course activities that challenged them intellectually with deeper approaches to learning and research with thorough discussions about major topics and exploring different cultures.

Studying in a virtual (online) learning environment is very different from how it’s done in traditional classroom based ones. Ensuring that materials on assignments and research projects presented clearly, instructors in online study programs are generally expected to provide more detailed feedback than do instructors in traditional classroom based programs. There are several types of feedback that are important to online classes, such as interaction in discussions that goes beyond words such but rather emphasizing main ideas and generating follow-up questions, providing valuable support and interaction with students.

In spite of the growing popularity of online education in civilized and developed societies, the concept is yet to receive full recognition in developing societies such as African countries. For working professionals and students desirous of acquiring practical skills and knowledge to perform various functions, solve real problems and staying competitive at the work place, professional courses that allows them to hone their skills and improve themselves without compromising on their regular schedules is a preference. Most of the online courses available are more theoretical and offers limited practical and operational knowledge of various fields and subjects, hence employers are always compelled to train and retrain staff before they are fully absorbed. Research indicates that between 70-80% of new employees; especially fresh graduates; levy cost burdens on employers as cost of training before they can actually work, globally. This situation is necessitated by the prevalence of theory based education and learning approaches which offer limited practical knowledge and skills to students, because of the increased focus on concepts, theories and principles.

“Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world, It will be better than any single university” Bill Gate –August 2010.

October 15, 2016

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