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The ideas of teaching and learning have changed drastically within the last few years. Being in a traditional classroom is no longer the only accepted learning experience. With the rise of new education technology and pedagogy, there are more options than ever for how you can choose to pursue a degree.

We are entering a new era, an era in which online education is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach but instead, distance learning can be customized to just about anything you want to do and however you’d like your learning experience to take place.

Some people are still skeptical about the future of education, particularly as it relates to remote learning and online teaching. However, something you can’t ignore is that the face of education is changing – especially as it relates to distance learners.

Here are some of the most interesting developments that have begun to take place in the online education world. Some of them may surprise you!

The Future of Online Education: The Benefits 

Without a doubt, online learning is on the rise. More students than ever are turning to online programs (or even just one-time courses) to help them meet their personal and professional goals.

In fact, it’s estimated that more than half of all students will take an online class at least once while they are pursuing their degrees.

Hybrid courses, too, are growing increasingly popular as students find ways to combine distance learning with the traditional learning pace of in-class learning.

There are many benefits associated with online courses. Some students simply like the flexibility of online classes, while others appreciate how online classes allow them to pursue a degree without having to abandon other work or personal commitments.

For other students, an online degree is simply the most affordable alternative. The average undergraduate degree can cost well over $50,000, while the average online class can cost up to 50% less.

It’s not just tuition that’s lower but the overall cost, as online students aren’t tasked with paying for things like parking, transportation, room, and board as on-campus learners might be.

Online learning removes many of the barriers that are present for traditional education. Students can work from anywhere, with fewer limitations on how and when they can complete their studies.

Online courses present viable alternatives for students who can’t travel to campus because they have children to care for, are in the military, or live in a remote location.

With online education, you’ll develop vital time management skills that are absolutely necessary for real-world success. You can set your own learning pace and you’ll have the added flexibility of being able to set a schedule that meshes with your own agenda. You can easily balance your work and studies.

Plus, you’ll be able to pursue a wide variety of programs. While your local college might not offer a degree in quantum physics, you can bet that you’ll be able to find a course that suits your fancy online.

Studying your program of choice online may be your best bet for finding a degree that meets your unique career goals perfectly – without requiring you to step foot on a physical campus.

Many experts believe that online education isn’t just an option for future learning – it is the future of learning. As technology becomes more widely available, more students are gaining access to the knowledge and skills that can improve their career prospects and help them change the world – for the better.

Types of Online Education

Online education, at least in the modern context, now has many faces. There are several categories that an online course can fall into.

The first is adult online education. These kinds of programs are geared toward teaching basic reading, science, math, and problem-solving skills to adults lacking the basic skills they need to be successful in the workforce.

Another subset is online continuing education. This is best for learners who perhaps already have their degrees or are working in a certain field, but need to take just one or two classes to help advance their skills.

Usually, this kind of education doesn’t culminate in a degree upon completion. If you wanted to take a class just for fun, it might fall into this category, too. These kinds of courses can be both free and paid.

Online distance education is an option pursued by high school students or college students who are studying at or regular, traditional school – but might want to take a few (or all) of their classes online to make their schedules more flexible or expedite their progress to a degree.

Online higher education is for students who want to attend college but for whatever reason (such as health issues, familial responsibilities, or scheduling constraints) can’t attend on campus. These courses culminate in degrees – with all levels (associates, master’s, bachelor’s, doctoral, and certificate) available fully online.

Of course, there are both hybrid and fully-online versions of all of these options. All of them have seen dramatic improvements within the last few years – and even months

How Online Course Changed – for better

More Affordable

As online courses grow in popularity, they drop in cost. This interesting relationship has made it possible for students everywhere to pursue an education – even students who thought higher education would never be possible.

In fact, there are many websites that now offer completely free online courses. These courses, known as MOOCs or massive open online classes, have grown in their enrollment from just 5.5 million students in 2009 to more than 10 million in 2014 – and the numbers keep climbing.

Some of the most popular include Coursera, Edx, Udacity, and Udemy. The most popular online degrees through these platforms include finance, psychology, accounting, information technology, and business administration, but there is no limit to what you can choose to study. Other resources for free or inexpensive online courses include:

● iTunesU
● Stanford University
● UC Berkeley
● MIT
● Duke (courses available via iTunesU)
● UCLA
● Open Yale
● Carnegie Mellon
● Harvard (select professional development courses are available for free online, with no need to apply for admission)

Diverse Learning Resources

Another way online learning has changed? It no longer takes a cookie-cutter approach to educating students.

As an online learner, you can not only set your own pace, but you can interact with course materials that are vastly different than what they were in the past. At the advent of distance learning, most courses consisted of pre-recorded lectures that were slapped online. You might have a few reading assignments to complete and some essays to write – and that was it.

Now, there is no limit to what kinds of learning resources you’ll find in your online learning platform. Online classes are often smaller than conventional courses, meaning you’ll be able to participate in a larger array of activities than you might if you were studying in a classroom.

Distance learning (and education in general, for that matter) is no longer about sitting in a room and listening to a professor spew information at you. Instead, you can interact with all kinds of diverse materials, including photos, videos, ebooks, discussions, chat rooms, and forums.

You can access this extra content from any location at any time of the day – offering you the opportunity for a more dynamic and tailor-made educational experience.

Microlearning

Microlearning is another trend in online education. It combines our affinity for learning with our notoriously short attention spans.

Let’s face it – humans can’t pay attention to anything for more than a few minutes at a time. As a result, it’s better to spend just a few minutes at once learning just the most essential pieces of information.

This is where microlearning comes into play. It’s the idea of using short-term strategies for learning so that you take in bite-sized pieces when it’s convenient for you.

One example of this is the mobile language learning app, Duolingo. With Duolingo, you learn one piece of the language at a time – just logging on whenever you have the chance. You’ll eventually learn a ton of information, but you won’t overwhelm your brain by trying to do it all at once.

Game-Based Learning

Online learning isn’t all fun and games, right? Wrong!

Today, you can take just about any online course and have fun doing it. Many online courses now incorporate game-based teaching, packaging education in a deceptive game-based setting. It’s not just for kids, either – even college courses now offer learners access to educational games that teach essential skills and concepts.

More “Human” Aspects

The ability to build a professional network with fellow students, instructors, and tutors is an essential aspect of an online degree or course. For many online learners, it can spell the difference between success and failure.

In the past, virtual courses have suffered a high drop-out rate – in some cases, as high as 95%. This is often due to the challenges faced by students studying on their own. This kind of independence can be freeing in that you have the ultimate flexibility over when to complete your coursework – but without the kind of personal attention to individual success, many students eventually just give up.

Therefore, many online courses now incorporate elements that are designed to create a sense of community and to bolster student success. There are more human recognition features and opportunities for learners to interact with their peers and instructors.

For example, most courses on LinkedIn Learning allow learners to engage in question and answer sessions with fellow students and teachers. Classes on Udacity often arrange social meet-ups and team-building exercises to build a sense of community.

There are other features that are built into online courses to help students succeed, too. Some universities now offer the same level of student support and activities that learners would have access to on campus. As an online student, you can access library services, join clubs, and participate in career development workshops.

Some online universities even have virtual sports teams that students can join! On Udacity, when you pass an assignment, you’ll receive a congratulatory message from an actual human over Skype.

These might seem like small developments on their own, but as a whole, they spell a bright future for online education. When you have access to a more human component of distance learning, you’ll feel a greater sense of self-worth and achievement. It’s always nice being appreciated by a human – rather than a computer!

Cross-Platform Learning

If you took an online course ten years ago, and it probably looked a lot like all of the other online courses out there. You would take the class on one platform (likely Blackboard, Moodle, or another similar service) and stay on that platform for the entire duration of the course.

Today’s online courses look a lot different. The introduction of smartphones has made it possible for learning to take place across all platforms. You might jump to one app for part of an assignment, then switch back to your main course module to complete the rest. You can learn in a million places at once!

Increased Collaborative Learning

Online learning can be isolating, particularly if you’re never able to interact with other students. Fortunately, online instructors are actively working to combat this concern.

More and more online courses are incorporating collaborative learning strategies, allowing students to participate in group projects, videoconferencing, email, texting, and workflow programs (like Slack and Trello) to stay connected to other learners.

Flipped Classroom

If you’ve ever spent hours on a homework assignment, only to find yourself stuck on one problem, you likely know the frustration that traditional learning can bring about.

With the flipped classroom one of the latest and greatest developments in online education, that is no longer the case. You’ll change the amount of time that is devoted to class lectures and homework. Rather than completing assignments at home, you’ll complete them in the classroom – so the teacher is there to help you if you get stuck. All lesson plans and classwork are delivered at home, through video lectures and tutorials.

The unique flipped classroom design doesn’t work for all courses, but it’s a good way for students in a hybrid learning environment to access online courses.

Mastery Learning

Many of today’s online schools and colleges make use of mastery learning. This concept has been around for quite some time but has grown in popularity with the advent and growing popularity of websites like Khan Academy.

With mastery learning, you’ll be required to master a skill or concept before you can move ahead. In most cases, that requires a 100% competency – not just 60 or 70%. Because of this, you’ll retest yourself constantly – but the benefit is that you can move on when you’re ready, rather than when the course deems it to be time.

Unique Assessment Methods

Even tests and quizzes don’t have the same face as before. With any kind of class, it’s essential that an instructor be able to determine your progress to chart your success. Today’s online courses have unique methods of assessment – so unique, in fact, that you might not even always realize you are being assessed.

In the past, you may have had to travel to a campus testing location in order to take a final exam. Today, online courses use tools like ProProfs to assess learners. ProProfs is a tool that educators can use to develop fun and engaging quizzes for their students, making assessment fun and more reliable.

New Developments in Education Technology

Education is increasingly becoming high-tech – and as you might expect, those developments have extended to the online campus. The changes in the world of technology are directly impacting learning systems everywhere.

For example, education technology has made it possible for teachers to initiate custom teaching and learning methodologies. There are all kinds of gadgets, interfaces, and apps that can be used to address each student’s individual needs.

One of these is cloud computing. Cloud computing has made it possible for the information to be stored and accessed at any time or any place. You can now access courseware and other educational materials from any device.

Keep reading a book or collaborate with your teacher on your smartphone – you don’t have to be at home to do it, because all of your devices are synced.

There are also new speech to text options that make it easier for students to dictate assignments. Most devices and apps now have virtual assistant features, such as APple’s Siri.

You can deliver voice commands to make note-taking, writing, and completing assignments quicker and more comfortable than ever.

Even learning analytics is an area of online education that is seeing major changes. In the past, it was incredibly difficult for teachers leading online courses to know how to assess and evaluate student engagement, learning, and progress.

Now, learning analytics systems can alert teachers to issues, such as poor student participation and even plagiarism.

On the flip side, these analytics can help students, too, letting them know when deadlines are approaching and how they are charting when it comes to their progress. These kinds of learning systems will help online teachers and students improve their overall engagement and success in the online space.

AI & Virtual Reality

Augmented intelligence and virtual reality are also boosting online education. Although these are both considered education technology, they are so impactful that they deserve mention all on their own. With VR and AR, learners can access a truly immersive learning experience – all without needing to get out of their desk chairs.

Want to learn about space? You can run a 3D space video on your VR headgear. Need to learn more about critical surgical operations for your pre-med program? Real-time broadcasting of these procedures will allow you to learn in a low-risk setting.

What to Look For in the Future of Remote Learning

There are some features of the modern classroom that will continue to play a role in the future of online education.

For starters, there will always be a human teacher. Many of the traditional methods of education have gone out the window, but for students to be successful, there are’ many ways to replace the expertise and personality of a real-life teacher. Teachers play an influential role in teaching content and helping students learn how to deal with others, and that’s not going to go away any time soon.

There are some challenges left for the remote learning space to overcome, however. For example, there is a huge amount of choice.

In most cases, this level of choice is a good thing – but that kind of choice can also lead to a higher disparity in the quality of online resources, teaching methods, and student support. It can be tough for an undiscerning eye to know what to look for when it comes to choosing an online course.

For some people, taking an online course can feel isolating. Fortunately, there are many ways you can now get involved in an online course that simply were not possible in the past.

Online learning offers all kinds of ways that you can interact with your instructors and peers – as long as you choose the right course. Most distance learning classes offer some face-to-face time with teachers and students with virtual lessons, chat rooms, forums, and even regular meet-ups.

Take advantage of these opportunities if they are available to you! That way, you can bounce ideas off each other or get moral support (or career advice!) as needed. This is also a great way to boost and build your professional network.

If you’re thinking about taking an online course, you may want to look into its accreditation first. That way, you can make sure your course is approved by the organizations with which you would like to pursue employment or receive certification later on.

Another good option is to look into student reviews. Reading testimonials from students who have taken a course before can give you a good idea of whether it’s something you want to continue to pursue – or whether it’s best for you to keep looking.

Ultimately, the future of online education is bright – as long as you know what to look for and are always willing to learn.

If you’ve been paying attention lately, you’ve likely noticed that everyone has been talking about how the learning experience in a classroom (traditional learning) is vastly different from the one that occurs in a digital space (online learning).

As more schools (including those at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary level) shift to a remote learning model, it’s easy to find yourself wondering whether the learning outcomes and experience are the same within these two separate environments.

Although the differences are certainly there, there are plenty of benefits to taking online courses – and believe it or not, the online training environment is often a much better way to learn than the traditional education model.

Here are some of the key similarities between online and traditional education – the common ground that the two share might shock you! Although there are a few differences, the common ground is more pronounced.

 

Workload

Like it or not, the workload is going to be consistent for all education systems, regardless of whether they are on-campus or online.

You are still going to have homework, tests, quizzes, and lectures, and while those assignments might look a bit different in the online learning model, they still exist.

In fact, some students report that online classes often come with even more independent assignments than the classes they have taken in a more traditional education system – likely because there are fewer requirements in terms of “seat time.”

Of course, the main difference between online and traditional learning is that you will need to be more self-directed and disciplined in the online setting to get your coursework completed on time.

Your assignments might be delivered and need to be completed in an asynchronous way – meaning it’s up to you to decide when to get them done, rather than relying on an instructor to nag you along the way.

Whether you decide you want to attend class online or in a physical setting, you’re still going to get homework. How much homework you receive has less to do with the format and environment of the class than it does with the teaching philosophy of the instructor. You will still need to complete reading and writing assignments, watch films, or listen to recordings – the workload is still there, it’s just in a different format.

 

Textbooks and Learning Materials

Another similarity between online and traditional courses is that both are going to require supplemental course materials to help you prepare for and complete reading and writing assignments. For the most part, even if a course is online, it still requires a print textbook.

That said, more and more courses (including those that are offered in-person) are moving to virtual textbooks or “e-books,” which can help conserve resources and often save you money, too. Either way, though, it doesn’t matter what kind of class you are taking – you are still going to have some serious reading to do.

 

Importance of Feedback and Communication

Feedback and communication are both crucial elements of both online classes and the traditional education system. Without proper feedback, there is no way for you to know how well you are mastering the material and whether you are prepared to move on to the next section of learning.

In an online course, feedback might be delivered via grades and comments on assessments or through communications such as emails, phone calls, and video chats. Of course, in a traditional classroom, that feedback is often delivered face to face.

One is not necessarily better than the other, but many online students like how feedback is delivered in an online class because they have it to look back on later on.

When feedback is delivered in a written or electronic form, as it often is in online courses, there is a permanent log of that information so that you always have a reference to guide you to make changes for later work.

Another benefit of online learning that you might not find in a traditional classroom is that although the potential for feedback and communication are present in both environments, in an online learning environment, students have more opportunities to engage 1:1 with their instructors.

In a traditional classroom, a shy, timid student might not feel comfortable raising his hand to ask a question – while in an online environment, there is more opportunity to inquire and interact in a low-risk setting.

You’ll be able to communicate with your instructor regardless of whether you are attending school on-campus or online. In fact, many instructors, despite teaching in an online environment, still have office hours, allowing you to get clarification on any questions or just talk with your professors.

Communication for both online and in-person classes can also be done by phone and email, too, meaning the methods for communication don’t vary much between in-person and online classes.

 

Lectures

For both online and in-person classes, you’re going to have to attend some lectures. The format might vary – for example, in an online class, you might have 24/7 access to recorded lectures, allowing you to revisit and to study the material whenever you feel like it. In a traditional class, your lecture time might only consist of ten hours or so.

Either way, expect to attend lectures regardless of the kind of class you are taking. After all, you need to be able to access the course materials somehow.

 

Challenges and Rewards

Looking to boost your career opportunities by taking a class or two? In both an online class and a traditional class, you’ll be able to do this. Sure, there are significant challenges associated with both kinds of classes, but there’s also the potential for some significant rewards.

In the past, online classes might not have been viewed with the same kind of respect as those that were taken in-person. And to be fair, there are some classes that are still best-suited for in-person learning (the trades come to mind).

However, for the most part, employers and schools no longer care about (or differentiate between) in-person and online classes. In fact, most colleges, when printing your degree or transcripts, don’t indicate as to whether the class was completed online or in-person.

The one exception is if you are pursuing a career where hands-on training is necessary (as mentioned with the trades professions, above). You could be turned down for a position because you don’t have any hands-on experience – but believe it or not, this is something that happens just as often with students who attended in-person programs as it does with those who studied online.

The key to being successful in any program – and to reaping the associated rewards! – is to make sure that you are taking advantage of any and all opportunities that come your way. Don’t be a wallflower, but instead, actively seek out ways to boost your knowledge and hands-on training in a discipline or topic.

Most online programs offer experiences like internships, cooperative learning programs, and other hands-on experiences. That way, you can still acquire the practical skills you need, even if you don’t attend your courses on campus.

 

Teacher Instruction and Interaction

Both online and in-person classes rely on a skilled, knowledgeable teacher to deliver and organize course material. You will learn from that instructor’s expertise, regardless of the setting in which you take your classes.

Therefore, it’s imperative that you look for a teacher whose instructional style meshes with your own – and whose knowledge in the chosen discipline is impressive. That’s true for both online and in-person classes.

 

Participation

While you might think that taking an online class will entitle you to sit behind a screen and not interact with your classmates, instructor, or the course material at all, that is simply not the case. Both classroom-based and online classes require you to participate in discussions or to ask and answer questions.

Participation

 

In fact, many online classes have virtual discussion boards in which instructors require students to contribute on a regular basis.

The beauty of an online classroom, in this regard, is that many of the limiting factors of participation in a traditional classroom are eliminated in this realm.

Shy students who might be unwilling to contribute in a crowded room full of chatty peers sare much more likely to participate in written discussions in chat rooms – where participation tends to be mandatory.

As a result, students in online classes tend to have the opportunity to hear a wider breadth of perspectives.

 

Distractions

Alas, distractions exist regardless of the setting in which you take your classes.

The distractions might seem more obvious and glaring in an online class – after all, you have complete freedom to shirk your course responsibilities and browse Facebook rather than getting your assigned reading done.

But just think back to any in-person class you have taken. Remember the class clown? Do you remember that one classroom where the heat was always turned up way too high, or the clock was ticking way too loud?

Chances are, you probably do.

There are distractions that can hinder your learning in both an online and traditional classroom. However, the major difference between online and in-person learning is that in an online class, you have more control over those distractions.

There aren’t any other people to throw you off os you can sit down and focus on what’s in front of you – without having to worry about Class Clown Kevin’s stupid jokes.

Room too warm? Simply get up and turn the thermostat down. The clock won’t’ stop ticking? Unplug it. In an online environment, many of the distractions that are present in a traditional classroom simply aren’t there. Of course, you’ll still have to have the discipline and willpower to turn away Facebook and other distractions, though.

 

Assistance From Support Services

Support services are usually available in both online and traditional classes, but they might look a bit different in either environment.

Some students report that there are more opportunities to join associations, clubs, and fraternities or sororities while they are taking classes on campus.

While this is marginally true – some activities, like sports, simply aren’t going to be a possibility when you study online – more universities and other educational institutions are making student activities available to fully online learners, too.

Plus, as an online learner, you’ll usually have access to the same support services you would receive if you were studying on-campus. You can still get support from counselors, instructors, tutors, and other professionals – the support might just take place in a different form.

 

Time Management

When you take any kind of class, it’s going to be essential that you learn how to manage your time wisely. This need might be more pronounced in a more hands-off online class, but we’ve all taken that traditional class in the past where the instructor was remarkably laissez-faire (so it’s not necessarily a sure thing that an online class is going to require better time management skills).

 

Both online and traditional classes will require you to manage your time wisely. However, in an online course, you will often be required to acquire and learn course materials on your own time.

This freedom is part of what makes online classes so attractive to nontraditional students. Not only can you move through the course material at your own pace and on your own schedule, but it’s more convenient if you work a job or have family commitments that make in-person attendance a challenge.

 

Cost

Some schools charge online students at the same rate as on-campus students, while others have separate tuition and fees for their distance learning programs. Sometimes schools structure tuition on a per-credit basis or charge flat fees which include all costs for the semester.

Still more schools drop fees that don’t apply to online students, like parking or add fees to help the school maintain its technological infrastructure.

All in all, though, the cost of online vs. traditional learning doesn’t tend to vary much. Online programs are usually marginally cheaper, but that’s not always the case. It’s important that you do your research before signing up for one or the other, because often, the assumption that one program is less costly than the other is one that is made in error.

 

Technological Concerns

It might seem obvious that, to participate in an online course, you have to have some computer literacy. In addition, your instructors need to be able to understand how to incorporate technological resources into their lessons.

Believe it or not, though, information technology is imperative for in-person learning, too. Most traditional courses still require some basic information technology skills when it comes to creating documents (like essays), conducting Internet-based research, and doing other work.

You won’t be saved from your technological ineptitude by enrolling in a traditional course – chances are, you’re going to need to understand the basics for both learning environments.

 

Which Learning Environment is Right For Me?

There are significant benefits and disadvantages to both traditional learning and online learning. However, studies show that there is little difference in overall performance between the two formats – and that’s according to the American Sociology Association.

However, your learning style might play a role in determining which method is best for you (and for lowering your overall stress levels when it comes to participating in a new course).

For example, if you tend to be a more self-directed, autonomous, and organized learner, you are likely going to do better in an online environment in which you are in control. However, students who rely more on instructors for instructions and direction may struggle in this environment.

If you’re extroverted, an in-person class might be best for you, as you’ll be able to engage with classmates and instructors face-to-face. Introverted students tend to thrive more in online classes, where they can work in a more solitary fashion.

Your age might play a role in how well you perform in an online vs traditional class, too. Studies have shown that traditional classes are more suitable for young children, teenagers, and young adults who have not yet joined the workforce.

To acquire the skills and habits necessary for lifelong success in learning, regular attendance in class is a must.

This will not only help these young people interact with others of their own gender, but it can help them learn how to stick to a regular schedule. In a traditional classroom, it’s easier for a student to interact directly with the instructor, helping to develop habits and confidence that are necessary for lifelong success.

Often, young people who are taking online courses require more support from parents and other third-party individuals.

Still not sure whether online or traditional learning is right for you? Don’t worry – there is an option that falls between both, and it’s called a blended learning environment.

In a blended course format, the curriculum is designed to include both traditional in-person learning as well as online coursework. The methods and manners in which this kind of learning environment is carried out can vary widely depending on both the instructor and the subject.

However, it might look like this – an instructor requires in-person attendance just one day a week for lectures. Then, all projects and activities are assigned so that students can complete them online, on their own time.

This lets you receive some of the benefits of face-to-face learning (such as the social interaction) while also allowing for greater flexibility in your schedule.

Most universities and other educational institutions that offer online courses provide students with some autonomy in how they choose to take their classes. In many cases, you may be able to take a combination of courses both in-person and online, allowing you to play around and find the blend that works best for you.

 

Are There Any Differences Between Traditional Learning and Online Learning?

There are of course some pronounced differences between a traditional and online learning environment, too. For example, the communication methods in an online course can be quite different than those used in a traditional classroom.

It can be harder to work on group assignments when you’re trying to communicate with people you’ve never actually met face-to-face. Not being able to delegate work in person can lead to some complications.

Some online students report that it’s harder to get to know an instructor in person, too. Although traditional classrooms allow students to gain both support and develop personal relationships with their teachers, only electronic communication is possible in an online course.

Of course, with an online class, you’re going to have a bit more control over how and when you complete your classes.

Gone are the days of needing to shower and get dressed to head to class! With an online class, you can attend your sessions and complete your assignments from the comfort of your home, doing so at just about any time of the day.

There are some slight differences between traditional learning and online learning, but for the most part, the commonalities they share vastly outweigh the features that they do not.

You are going to need to put forth effort when taking a class, regardless of whether that class exists in the digital or in the real-world space.

It’s up to you to decide which model works best for you, your life circumstances and of course, your learning style.

Thinking of a career in computer science – but not exactly sure which exact path you should follow?

You may want to consider a career in artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence is a field that focuses on the simulation, inference, and representation by software and computers as they relate to human learning, reasoning, and processing. It’s a major that’s quite similar to other specializations in computer science, like animation, data science, and robotics.

However, this field is one that is currently on the rise. As more companies expand and adopt various technologies across industries, they need trained professionals to help them with the transition. It’s anticipated that artificial intelligence will create close to 2.3 million jobs by the end of the year!

There are plenty of career opportunities in artificial intelligence, or AI, and earning an online artificial intelligence certification has never been easier. You’ll just need to find the right online training program.

Here’s what you need to know. 

 

 

What Exactly is Artificial Intelligence – and Why Does it Matter?

 

Artificial Intelligence

 

Artificial intelligence is the way we make intelligent machines. If you’re new to this field, you might wonder if AI is the same thing as making self-aware robots! Rest assured, you don’t have to get involved with the makings of a sci-fi movie in order to pursue one of these careers.

AI is simply software that learns in a manner similar to how humans learn. The software mimics the human learning process so that it can take over some of mankind’s most mundane jobs – or find ways to do them better or faster.

A common subset of artificial intelligence is machine learning, which is the process by which AI learns. With machine learning, algorithms are developed that then use various modules of training data to help computers learn something they aren’t already programmed to do.

That’s not all, though. Machine learning is simply the first stage in the AI process. Stage two is machine intelligence – in this stage, machines learn from past experience based on false algorithms. Stage three is machine consciousness, which is when systems can self-learn from their experiences without users having to put in any external data (an example would be Siri).

There are plenty of benefits to using AI, and it has applications in a variety of industries. You probably use AI already, perhaps without even realizing it. You use it to find your destination via ride-sharing apps and it’s found in all of your smart home devices.

From a business standpoint, companies can use AI to assess risk and to cut costs, boost innovation, and develop new opportunities.

 

 

What Skills Do You Need for a Career in Artificial Intelligence?

When you first start exploring degree options for your potential career in artificial intelligence, you may find yourself wondering what kinds of classes are required.

It can often be more helpful for you to think about what kinds of artificial intelligence topics and skills you will need to master instead. Many universities offer full majors or courses in artificial intelligence, but they usually each refer to courses and describe them in varying ways (despite more or less all covering the same content).

Instead, it can be helpful for you to think about what skills you would like to have by the time you finish your degree (rather than just a list of classes).

You can break down these skills into two categories – soft and hard.

 

“Soft” Skills for Artificial Intelligence Careers

Soft skills can be difficult to define and evaluate – usually, if you’ve got them, you’ve got them, and if you don’t, you don’t. They are very tricky to learn, as they usually are innate characteristics that are developed over time (rather than something that is taught directly in a college program, for example).

Examples of soft skills include listening skills, communication skills, and collaboration skills.

When you work in artificial intelligence, you will need to be able to think analytically. You’ll have to become good at solving problems, particularly by utilizing efficient and cost-effective solutions.

Not only that, but you’ll need to be able to apply some strategic foresight about potential technological innovations. These will later translate to state-of-the-art programs that businesses can develop and use to stay competitive in a constantly changing global marketplace.

Good communication skills are also essential for AI professionals, and this is something that many prospective students overlook. When you begin a career in artificial intelligence, you won’t just be sitting in front of a computer all day (although that is part of it). You will also need to be able to communicate with others.

It won’t just be water cooler talk, either. You’ll need to learn how to translate highly technical information to others (typically those who have limited or nonexistent technical backgrounds) so that they can then carry out their jobs. You will need to be able to do this in both a written and verbal format.

You will also need to have soft skills and personal traits like perseverance, discipline, confidence, and curiosity.

 

“Hard” Skills for Artificial Intelligence Careers

Beyond those “soft” skills, you will also need some serious technical skills. You will need to know how to create, maintain, and fix various software and technology programs.

Some examples of hard skills you’ll need to master include:

  • Machine learning theory
  • Software engineering
  • Machine learning frameworks
  • Programming languages
  • Cloud platforms
  • Big data tools
  • Natural language processing tools
  • Workflow management systems
  • Statistical inference
  • Domain-level knowledge

 

Which Online AI Classes Should You Take?

To get started in AI, you’ll need to first consider your current level of expertise. Are you starting fresh outta high school, with no prior experience in the field? Or are you already working in programming or data science? If you have a computer science background, you may be able to skip one of the core course requirements.

Otherwise, you’ll need to take a variety of general studies and liberal arts courses. Get these under your belt as quickly as possible so you can then move on to more relevant topics.

Because artificial intelligence consists of several different overlapping disciplines, it may be easier for you to pursue the following online AI classes if you already have a background in computer science. Taking interdisciplinary courses in topics like cognitive science can also give you a strong conceptual framework for AI applications.

Some of the following classes will prove to be helpful as you start your journey in artificial intelligence.

 

Statistics

Some people argue that artificial intelligence (particularly machine learning) is nothing more than statistics in disguise. To some extent, that’s true – although it’s more advanced than that, to say the least.

Many machine learning techniques and algorithms either rely on heavily or are completely bored from statistics. Therefore, it’s important that you take and master courses like statistics in order to be successful in this field. Ideally, you should get several statistics classes under your belt before moving on to more advanced topics in artificial intelligence.

 

Linear Algebra

Linear algebra is essential for mastering machine learning, a key component of artificial intelligence.

 

English

Wait, English? Really? You might be surprised to see this class on the list of required classes for artificial intelligence majors. However, it’s essential. Even a few basic college English courses can help you succeed in artificial learning.

Why?

Well, think back to those communication skills we told you that you need. Without knowing how to communicate – and how to communicate not just with other AI professionals, but with those who have no understanding of the discipline – you won’t be very successful in your career.

 

Probability

Probability is important for artificial intelligence because you need to get acquainted with variance, random variables, expectations, Markov chains, Bayesian inference, and other crucial aspects of probability.

 

Calculus

Unless you’ve just finished up an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in another area, you’re probably going to want to brush up on your calculus skills. Calculus, along with integration (both necessary for probability topics in artificial intelligence) is absolutely essential.

You will likely take not just one, but a couple of courses in calculus before you complete your studies.

 

Algorithms

In order to bring your ideas in artificial intelligence to life, you will need to master algorithms. These classes can be quite rigorous, and you’ll likely take more than one class in algorithms before you are finished with your studies. The best courses in this key artificial intelligence topic will be those that let you do a great deal of hands-on work.

 

Physics

Physics is another prerequisite course that can help you get ahead in artificial intelligence. It will let you get some insight into some of the most common machine learning concepts used in artificial intelligence. It can give you a good framework for understanding more abstract concepts from information theory and probability, too.

 

Artificial Intelligence Principles and Techniques

Many students will begin their studies in artificial intelligence by taking an introductory overview of the discipline first. This class will provide students with information on how AI can be used to solve problems, reason, learn, and interact. As the course progresses, it usually enables students to design, test, and implement some basic algorithms.

Cyborg Head

 

As an introductory course, this one should be at the top of every aspiring AI professional’s list. It will give you a good idea of whether this career path is right for you.

 

Bayesian Networking

This course deals with a type of representation and reasoning system that is often used in artificial intelligence. In this course, you’ll learn how to both construct and analyze Bayesian networks.

 

Graphical Modeling

This course deals with graphical models, which combine graph and probability theories. In doing so, they create a more flexible framework for modeling substantial collections of random variables with complex interactions you might find in artificial intelligence.

 

Spark and Big Data Technologies

You may take some classes that will help you deal with large volumes of data, any of which could be streaming or real-time production-level data. You will need to know about big data technologies, like Apache Spark, Hadoop, MongoDB, and Cassandra.

 

AI Representation and Problem-Solving

This class deals with modern techniques that help computers represent task-relevant information to make intelligent decisions toward goal achievements. You’ll research all kinds of AI questions like how to represent knowledge and deal with uncertainty in the modern (and future) AI world.

 

Robotics

Depending on your ultimate career focus, you may take one or more classes in robotics, too. Most students take at least a few. These classes are important because they will acquaint you with the basic tools and methodologies in robotics research, as well as applications that can be used for further experimentation in this field.

Some key topics within this sub-discipline that you’ll cover include statics, kinematics, spatial descriptions, and motion planning, just to name a few.

 

Cognitive Science Theory

This Is a highly interdisciplinary course that will acquaint you with the ways in which the mind works by using various tools and insights from fields like computer science, vision science, neuroscience, behavioral economics, and more.

 

Computer Science, Programming Languages, and Coding

You’ll need to learn several different programming languages in your artificial intelligence journey. While there are all kinds of languages that computer science majors might master, one of the most common for aspiring AI professionals is Python.

You might also take classes to help you master programming languages like C++, Java, and R, too, to help you design and implement models.

You’ll also need to gain skills in areas like algorithmic thinking and coding.

 

Machine Learning, Deep Learning, and Reinforcement Learning

 

Machine learning – along with deep learning and reinforcement learning – is a crucial part of most artificial intelligence programs. This topic will help you gain mastery of things like supervised and unsupervised learning in addition to learning theory, control, and reinforcement learning.

You might also learn some of the applications of machine learning technologies, too.

 

Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms

This class is important for machine learning and covers everything from probability to information theory. You’ll also cover concepts like Monte Carlo methods, high-dimensionality, variational methods, and Bayesian model comparison in this class, too.

 

Natural Language Processing

Natural language processing deals with the algorithms that are available for processing linguistic information – as well as the computational properties of those languages. This discipline normally takes deep learning approaches like debugging, training, and implementing neural network models.

 

Computer Vision and Image Analysis

Computer vision and image analysis are course topics that deal with the many applications of computer vision like cameras and projection models.

An online artificial intelligence course in this topic might cover low-level image processing methods like edge detection and filtering or mid-level vision topics like clustering and segmentation. This course topic also generally covers things like face and human motion detection and categorization.

 

Logic Programming and Computational Logic

This course is essential as it shows learners how to encode information in logical sentences. Logic is necessary in any machine learning environment. As you are enrolled in an AI program, you may take a very basic version of this course or one that is very advanced.

You’ll learn how logic technology can be applied to various disciplines, including business, science, law, engineering, mathematics, and more. You’ll learn about processes of natural and mathematical deduction and induction along with the semantics of Herbrand Logic, Relational Logic, and Propositional Logic.

 

Deep Learning

 

Deep Learning

 

Deep learning is a highly-sought-after skill in AI, and this class is usually included (at the very least, as an electron) in most online artificial intelligence programs.

You’ll learn how to build neural networks and lead successful machine learning projects in this class. You’ll also learn the foundations of deep learning before moving on to learn about convolutional networks.

Some online artificial intelligence courses make it possible for you to give into case studies, too, so you can see how theory is applied to an actual industry setting.

 

Agile Software Development

As an aspiring artificial intelligence major, you can choose a program that offers a specific major in artificial intelligence or pursue a major like graphic design, computer science, health informatics, engineering, or information technology – but with a specialization in artificial intelligence.

Some other classes you can take, either as core courses or electives, might include:

  • Data Science Essentials
  • Principles of Imperative Computation
  • Parallel and Sequential Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Neural Computation
  • Cognitive Robotics
  • Speech Processing
  • Vision Sensors
  • Machine Learning for Text Mining
  • Advanced Data Analysis
  • Safe and Interactive Robots
  • Designing Human-Centered Systems

What Kinds of Careers Are Available in Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is being used in a variety of industries – some of them might surprise you. Quite a few large brands are already in the trenches when it comes to adopting artificial intelligence, including Amazon, IBM, Accenture, and Microsoft. They use AI to drive innovation.

However, artificial intelligence is also used in sectors like transportation (it can help Uber drivers navigate their routes, for example) and in predictive maintenance for self-driving cars.

Some of the most common artificial intelligence careers include those as :

  • Software developers
  • Computer scientists
  • Software analysts
  • Computer engineers
  • Algorithm specialist
  • Surgical technicians (working with robotic tools)
  • Manufacturing or electrical engineers
  • Research scientists
  • Data analyst
  • Machine learning engineer
  • Data scientist
  • Business intelligence developer
  • Big data engineer or architect
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Engineering consultants
  • Maintenance technicians
  • Graphic art designers
  • Military and aviation electricians

In addition to the industries and careers mentioned above, there are several subsets of AI for you to be aware of, too. Taking some of the specialized online artificial intelligence courses that we told you about above can help prepare you for these “niche” areas.

For example, neural networks are used to help software learn how to recognize and classify information. They can make decisions with a high level of accuracy based on the data that is inputted.

Natural language processing is another subset of AI. This provides machines with the ability to understand human language. Machines learn to respond in ways that human audiences can comprehend. Deep learning is yet another area of AI that continues to be explored. It focuses on machine learning tools and how we can deploy them to solve problems and make decisions.

If these careers all sound quite different, that’s because they are. Although there are similarities between these various careers and subsets in artificial intelligence, you’ll find that they all share various communities.

One thing is for sure, though. Beginning a career in artificial intelligence is a smart choice, particularly if you enjoy working with technology and have the mathematical and technical skills necessary to succeed. The pay isn’t too shabby, either – on average, artificial intelligence professionals earn more than $134,135 per year.

 

Should I Pursue an Online Artificial Intelligence Course of Study?

If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in artificial intelligence, know that there are plenty of ways for you to meet your goals. If you’re already in the workforce, earning a degree is not out of the question. You’ll just need to find more flexible ways to meet your goals.

Earning an online degree is a great place to start. By studying online, you’ll be granted the flexibility and convenience necessary to complete your coursework whenever it fits into your schedule.

Online learning opportunities are booming, too. All kinds of schools, including MIT, Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon, have preset tracks for people who want to work in AI.

If you don’t want to enroll in a full-fledged program, you don’t have to either – there are various supplemental programs out there that can help someone who is mid-career retrain to transition into a new career in artificial intelligence.

Even companies like Microsoft are offering specialized AI programs. The AI track for the Microsoft Professional Program offers programs online to anyone and provides relevant job-ready skills in AI and data science.

Taking even just one online artificial intelligence course can provide you with the online training you need to succeed. Consider signing up for a few of these classes today – or enrolling in a full-fledged AI programming degree.

Thinking about trying out a few online courses?

If so, you’re in good company. Today, more than 6 million Americans are pursuing a degree solely online (with many more taking the occasional online class here or there).

There are plenty of advantages to online learning, too. From the inherent convenience of being able to take classes whenever it’s most convenient for your schedule to the reduced costs associated with distance learning, online learning is a smart choice for many degree seekers.

However, it’s important to note that not all online learning courses are built alike. In fact, for many educators, creating a high-quality online class is not easy. That’s especially true for programs that tend to have a large percentage of in-person components, like practicums or experiential learning modules.

So how do you find the best online courses? Start with this list of the top components of a good online course – then consider trying a few out today.

 

 

What Exactly Is Online Learning?

Online learning, also referred to as distance learning, is a process through which students receive instruction through video recordings, video conferencing, and other online audio/visual technology. It’s one of the best ways to earn a degree, since you don’t actually have to be present in a physical classroom in order to earn your degree.

 

Online Learning

 

Distance learning is an effective way for students to earn their degrees. Not only can you learn just as much as you might be able to while studying on-campus, but you’ll be able to do so from your own home (even in your pajamas, as the marketing gimmicks might promise!).

Although online learning is not a new phenomenon, it has grown in popularity as more students look for convenient ways to continue learning even when logistical challenges make it impossible to travel to in-person classes.

In the past, online learning was traditionally viewed as a way for busy working adults to earn their degrees, but today, it offers so much more.

True, you might consider taking an online class if you’re an employee looking to get better at your job or gain the skills necessary for a promotion. Sometimes, occasional online courses are required for continuing education credits.

But online courses are also great for professionals who want to change careers entirely. You might prefer an online program so that you can continue to work while you are engaged in your studies.

Alternatively, online courses are increasingly being selected by full-time students who simply need a bit of a boost. For example, lots of universities and nonprofits offer classes to students who need some extra help with certain subjects, classes, or topics.

Simply put, online classes work well for everyone.

 

 

What to Look for in Good Online Learning Courses

 

Good Pacing

One of the biggest pitfalls of taking an online course is that it is incredibly easy to fall behind. This is, of course, true of in-person classes, too. However, on-campus courses are generally taught by instructors who see their students face-to-face on a weekly basis and therefore have the opportunity to pester students about missing assignments!

Therefore, it’s essential that you find an online course that offers good pacing. Pacing is essential both for the laggards in the class as well as the speed demons. Often, online courses are asynchronous – this is really the way to go!

An asynchronous online class is one in which there are no live meeting times during which students and the instructor gather together as a class. Instead, students progress through the lesson and complete their assignments at their own pace. While certain assignments have attached due dates, there is much more flexibility than if a set meeting time was required.

There are some online courses that are entirely self-paced, allowing you to move to the next learning module once you have mastered the one you are on.

When a course is properly paced, you’ll feel engaged by your assignments but you won’t necessarily feel buried in anxiety – or as though you’re engaging in pointless, tedious busy work for no reason.

 

Reliability

Taking an online class is hard enough, but it’s even more difficult if a course has tons of flashy, glitzy technologies that take ages to load and eons to learn how to navigate.

When you’re taking an online course, it can be fun to build your technological aptitudes and try out new programs. However, you shouldn’t be required to download seven new plug-ins or sign up for outside services beyond the course’s main delivery platform.

Often, these technologies don’t work, and this can cause students to spend way too much time troubleshooting those technologies instead of spending time on the content itself.

When you’re researching online courses, look for those that incorporate technologies with which you are familiar – or at the very least, are able to learn. If you are totally new to online learning and haven’t tried out any distance learning platform, try to at least find a course that seems simple and easy to navigate.

 

Learning Accommodations via Multiple Learning Modalities

Look at a classroom full of students and each one of those students is likely to learn best in a different way.

Regardless of whether you are taking classes online or on-campus, it’s important that you find a program that aligns well with your unique learning style. Some students learn best by reading while others do best by watching videos. Others would rather work in a hands-on setting to master various student skills.

No matter what your preferences might be, the greatest online learning courses will engage you with a variety of opportunities that match your personality and preferences.

Consider online courses that appeal to learners in as many learning modalities as possible, including visual, kinesthetic, auditory, musical, and other formats. You’ll be able to study in a way that works best for you.

 

Includes Three Major Pillars of Student Learning

Although online learning typically includes technologies that can be considered novel and modern, distance education is really no different than the education our great grandparents received in one-room schoolhouses. Mousepads and HTML aside, all good classes include three major pillars of student learning.

The first pillar is content. This is the information that students are expected to learn. What will you learn in this class, and what will you be able to do with that new information?

The second pillar is instruction. This is the broadest pillar and each class can vary in terms of how instruction is delivered. You might enjoy class discussions, problem-solving activities, or projects. Some online classes include direct instruction. The best online courses include a myriad of options to accommodate various schedules, course objectives, and goals.

Online Learning

The final pillar is evaluation. This pillar is ongoing – students should have access to constant evaluation during their studies in the form of formative assessments. These evaluations might be as simple as occasional instructor feedback in a written or verbal format. They could be as formal as graded rubrics or professional development checklists.

Either way, these assessments are essential – not only for you, as the student, but for instructors. Without formative assessment and evaluation, it is impossible to know how instruction should be aligned and adjusted for better understanding.

Each online course should also culminate in a  final evaluation. This should be closely aligned to the course’s learning objectives and serve as the final assessment of whether a student has mastered those objectives.

 

Offers an Interactive and Collaborative Environment

It takes a village to educate a student – that’s true both in an on-campus and online learning environment.

In fact, interaction between students and between students and their instructors is essential. Without it, you won’t have quite as many opportunities for deep learning. Look for an online class that integrates interactive lessons, hands-on labs, group projects, class discussions, and opportunities for private chats, too.

These opportunities will allow you to connect directly with other students and with your instructors. You’ll gain new insights on your topic of choice and emerge from your schooling as a more well-rounded, disciplined learner.

Here are some of the other features you might find in a quality online class:

  • Interactive tests, quizzes, and video clips
  • Tools for online collaboration and discussion are provided
  • Regular video feedback, tips, and announcements
  • Interactive instructions
  • Consistent outreach to students from faculty members

Allows for Self-Directed Learning

While the best online courses will include clear, immersive instruction from teachers who know what they are doing (and are trained in some of the best teaching strategies), a good online course will also provide students with the time and resources necessary for self-directed learning.

You should be given some responsibility when it comes to your education. If a course is too micromanaged with no opportunity for choice or discovery, it becomes bland and meaningless very quickly. A good course will provide learners with plenty of freedom to design their own programs and explore new aspects of various subjects.

A great online class will also incorporate the element of surprise. While there should be some predictability in your coursework, a truly great online class will give you real opportunities to develop as a learner and to grow as a professional.

 

Has a Thoughtful, Purposeful Design That is Focused on Outcomes

The best online courses are designed with attention to student outcomes. In short, a good online class isn’t one that’s thrown together at the last minute but instead takes a backward-front approach.

Instructors who want to build student skills in an online learning environment will start by thinking about what strategies, concepts, and proficiencies they want their students to develop. They’ll work backward from these goals, striving to create a curriculum that addresses those specific goals.

As a student considering an online class, you should look for a program that offers clear course goals and learning objectives. Although some of the language used in the course descriptions might be a bit beyond your level of understanding,  you should, for the most part, be able to develop a clear idea of what you’ll learn in the class.

Always look for classes that offer clear syllabi. A good online class won’t leave anything up to chance but will instead have all of the content and assignments mapped out. You may even find that instructors already have assessments and support materials selected for future classes, too.

 

Provides Students with Connections to the Larger Community

For many students, the biggest deterrent to online learning is that it lacks the close-knit connections fostered by on-campus programs. It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re taking an online course.

However, the best courses will not only be interactive and collaborative, as we mentioned before, but they’ll also connect you with opportunities outside of the classroom. You won’t be able to head over to the quad to catch the Sunday football game, so you’ll need an online program that offers other ways to stay connected.

For example, an online class might facilitate an off-topic discussion board where learners can chat about anything that interests them (be it the weather, the NFL draft, or Beyonce’s latest single). Other online courses may connect students to alumni for career networking or provide students with access to volunteer or work opportunities in their local communities.

You should also feel connected to the campus community, no matter how far away you might be studying. Ideally, a good online course will allow you to access resources like academic tutoring, career services, counseling, student life, health services, and more.

 

Actively Involves the Learner

Some people believe (erroneously, of course) that for an online course to be effective, it should require a student to read a large amount of text each week and then answer questions based on that text.

 

Effective Online Course

 

Although that’s probably the easiest method of designing a class, it is rarely the most effective.

For students to be active participants in their own education, they should be completing assignments that are challenging and intellectually stimulating. You shouldn’t just be regurgitating information that was spewed forth at you.

A good online course will allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the content in novel ways. Ideally, instructors will incorporate authentic activities that not only require students to show mastery of the content but also to connect that mastery back to its real-world implications.

Some online classes take things one step further and use an inquiry-based learning model. In this model, students are required to investigate certain questions that they have about the content. On a very basic level, this means completing activities like KWL (Know, Want to Know, and Learned) charts.

On a more advanced level, student inquiry might require students to complete a research proposal and final project in an area of interest-  often involving outside research and discussions.

 

Has a Clear and Consistent Structure

One of the biggest deterrents when it comes to taking online classes, for many students, is the fact that the learning modules and structure of a class can be overwhelming.

After all, instructors have a lot of information to cram into a single online learning environment – and in a short amount of time.

However, good online courses will be clearly and consistently structured so that even the most technologically-challenged student can navigate the learning modules. Each should have the same structure in terms of the location of reading materials, tasks, assignments, and other components.

Again, to do this, the best teaching strategies recommend working and planning backward. Instructors should start with the content they want to cover and then identify major thematic chunks of information. Each “chunk” will become a learning module that will help each student progress toward the final course goals.

Other good teaching strategies to ensure clarity and consistency include the use of rubrics and other understandable feedback tools.

 

Adapts to a Variety of Technologies

As a student, you might be completing your online classes via any kind of device, from a smartphone to a tablet, laptop to a full-sized desktop PC. You might use Windows, or you could use a Mac.

Regardless of the technology you plan to use, you should look for an online class that will be compatible with your specific device. You shouldn’t have to go out and purchase a $500 laptop just to complete one class.

 

Incorporates High-Quality and Multimedia Content

In high school, there’s a good chance that you sat through quite a few classes thinking, “I already know all of this.” Many courses, both online and on-campus, continue to follow this bland, stark model – they only use bland texts and fill-in-the-blank worksheets.

A good online course, though, will contain high-quality content so that learning is no longer a chore. You will feel as though you are learning naturally through more immersive activities. You’ll feel more curious and more engaged – and as though what you are learning in the classroom is new and actually matters in your career.

Many of the best online courses are beginning to experiment with multimedia integration. This is one of the greatest and most exciting features of online learning – you don’t have to rely on textbooks and lectures to get the message across.

Instead, some of the top programs incorporate unique multimedia elements like podcasts and videos. They engage students in unique information without being overwhelming or bland.

 

Easy to Navigate

Top online courses should be easy to follow. It should be clear what you are expected to do next and you should be able to access relevant resources and information when you end it. Some of the best online courses have even been reviewed by third-party organizations, which can be a good indicator that the course is easy to navigate.

 

Creative Design

If the thought of taking an online course makes your eyes glaze over, you’re not alone – but keep in mind that there are countless online classes out there that are not only far from boring, but they’re incredibly interesting, too.

The best online courses will provide learners with a varied, fresh learning environment every week. Too often, online courses fall into a pattern that is not only predictable, but yawn-inducing.

While a bit of a formulaic approach is necessary (after all, consistent structure is vital), too much predictability can make material dull and uninspiring. Therefore, online classes should be unique, engaging, and interactive.

 

Room to Do More

Taking an online class shouldn’t just be about checking off boxes and completing a list of to-dos. Instead, it should encourage and inspire you to go further and to continue learning.

Instructors who are teaching online should take the opportunity to connect their students with additional opportunities. Whether these take the form of optional volunteer experiences, cooperative learning opportunities, or web-based resources for further reading, providing students with the ability to continue growing is an essential feature of top online classes.

 

Provides Opportunities for Reflection and Revision

Again, a major trait of a good online course is one that is commonly found among the best traditional classes, too.

A good online course will provide both the instructors and the students with constant opportunities for reflection and revision.

Education shouldn’t be a static, unchanging thing. Instead, it should be a metamorphosizing entity that is always changing and adapting to student, industry, and societal needs.

The best online course, then, will have a performance evaluation process with flexible guidelines. The program should teach students to be reflective practitioners and instructors should also continuously monitor their own teaching strategies to make sure students are being reached in the best possible way.

 

 

Are Online Courses Right for Me?

In the past, online classes were ideal only for students who were extremely self-motivated, talented, and technologically savvy.

That’s no longer the case.

Today, just about anybody can take – and benefit from – an online course. It’s all about finding the right one!

Online learning may change the delivery of instruction, but just like in the traditional classroom, good teaching can make or break the course. Look for some of these features in an online course before you register, and you’ll find that you can succeed regardless of your experiences or capabilities.