Many traditional high schools and colleges are now requiring students to take at least one online class before graduation. Why is this new requirement becoming so prevalent? And, how do these online classes benefit schools and students? Find out below.
1. Online classes give schools more flexibility. Offering online options frees up physical classroom space for the courses that benefit the most from face-to-face learning. Some schools try to use this to their advantage, putting an interactive math class online while offering an in-person science lab in the physical space for example. Online classes also allow many schools to offer programs that wouldn’t otherwise be available. A few students from one school can join up with students from other schools in an area, making an otherwise impossible class viable online.
2. Students are likely to encounter additional online classes as they continue their academic careers. Now that the majority of colleges in the nation offer some form of distance learning, chances are that most students will encounter several opportunities to learn virtually. In some cases, online learning may be the only option to get all of the credits they need. By familiarizing themselves with online learning early, students are better able to succeed in all kinds of learning environments.
3. Online learning helps students develop critical thinking and reading skills. In well-designed virtual courses, students can’t passively sit through lectures and answer questions with common sense. These courses require students to follow directions carefully and take ownership for their own learning. The majority of online classes require a significant amount of reading, both within the content of the course and within the course instructions.
4. Employers want to hire graduates that know how to communicate online. Gone are the days when business was conducted primarily through face-to-face meetings. Increasingly, employees conduct their affairs with co-workers and clients through email, webinars, conference calls, and other online avenues. In online classes, students learn how to effectively communicate in a variety of online situations, tailor the tone of their messages to suit their audience, and respond to others. Effectively communicating without seeing a person’s body language or hearing their tone of voice can be deceptively challenging. But, students that have worked with others in online classes will have an advantage when entering the workforce.
5. Online classes teach students how to develop their own technical skills. In addition to helping students develop communication skills, online classes give students the opportunity to adapt to new technologies. Students learn how to figure out technical issues and troubleshoot problems they encounter. While grads probably won’t use the same learning management systems and chat programs in the office, the specific programs aren’t particularly important. The technology will change, but the ability to adapt and develop new tech skills will be invaluable for new grads.
6. Graduates need to be prepared to learn online. Long after they finish their academic career, college grads will be expected to be able to learn online. Much of that learning will happen informally. For example, grads might be asked to perform a task that they weren’t trained in and will have to rely on internet materials to teach themselves. Increasingly, that learning might also happen via formal online training programs. Many employers are beginning to rely on virtual training to keep workers up-to-date on their skills, aware of company policies and relevant laws, and competitive in the workplace. People that feel comfortable online will have the advantage when employers require short or long-term training. Whether it is helping them in college or in the workplace, students that have at least at least some experience learning online will have a significant advantage over those that haven’t had the opportunity.