For decades, education was relegated to stifling classrooms with blackboards and uncomfortable desks. Today, students of all ages and experience levels have far more options, including online courses.
Online education comes in so many shapes and sizes. Students have an endless amount of opportunity to learn new things.
Writing for Inc magazine, author and business expert Joe Nemo calls online learning “the $107 billion industry that nobody’s talking about.” He goes on to note that “teaching sells,” which further cements our belief that the e-learning industry will only continue to grow.
The only question is this: Will you become a part of it?
Whether as a teacher or as a student, teaching online allows you to have the chance to impact lives, contribute to a growing industry, and share your expertise with others. Here are just some of the many benefits of online classes, and what you can do to get in on the action.
What is online learning?
Online learning is an educational medium that allows students to participate in courses via the internet. They don’t need to visit lecture halls or classrooms, and they can choose to learn whatever they want from the comfort of their own homes.
Online learning is also a way for subject-matter experts to pass on their knowledge in a gratifying way.
For some, online learning means getting a degree through a university or college's online curriculum offerings. But that’s just the tip of the e-learning iceberg. Anyone can create an online course, not only to educate their audiences but also to generate income.
One of the greatest advantages of creating an online course is you don’t need a doctoral-level degree to teach other people your skills. And you don’t have to be a household name to gain traction in the online learning market.
There are also a few disadvantages to online learning. Some people learn better in classroom environments. Some students also find they get lonely if they spend too much time isolated from their peers.
However, that’s the beauty of the online learning industry. Just because you take an online course doesn’t mean you can’t pursue other traditional educational endeavors. In fact, a well-rounded education is just what e-learning provides.
Let's explore some of the many benefits of online education.
20 advantages of online learning
There are many benefits to learning online, but the biggest ones are:
- The freedom to learn whatever you want
- Comfort of learning from your own home
- Ability to work a job while you study
- They offer ultimate convenience and flexibility
- Earn bonus points for your resumé
- Reduced education costs
- More opportunities for teacher-student interaction
- You can study at your own pace
- Expand your career horizons
- Gain greater access to experts in their fields
- Expand your professional network
- Greater ability to concentrate
- Avoid the dreaded commute
- Study with thousands of students around the world
- Reduced academic pressure
- Boost your brain and keep it healthy
- Study according to your learning style
- Build self-discipline and accountability
- Ability to pursue a hobby or interest
- Improve your communication skills
Below, we'll get into the finer details of these 20 advantages of online classes.
1. Freedom to learn whatever you want
Physical classrooms have certain limitations because of:
- Budget: Colleges and universities can’t hire professionals to teach every subject under the sun, so they have to pare down their curricula to meet the heaviest demand.
- Staffing: Schools must constantly hire new staff to address turnover. Sometimes, they must also cut staffing (as well as courses) to meet financial projections.
- Syllabi: Most college, university, and continuing education courses must follow a specific syllabus that might leave out information that students want to learn.
- Interest: Physical schools can’t offer a class just because one person wants to learn the subject. If interest wanes, they cut the class.
Online learning tears down all of these barriers because it creates room for education to flourish. You can find online courses on just about any subject you can imagine. Plus, if you can’t find a course that interests you, online platforms give you the chance to create a course yourself.
Another of the biggest benefits of online classes is the ability to drill down as deeply into your subject as you wish. The internet has created an insatiable appetite for information. However, freely available information doesn’t always go into enough depth. E-learning bridges the chasm between free information and specialized learning for which students will gladly pay.
Additionally, it removes any personal barriers that might stop people from learning. Subjects that carry cultural connotations or taboos, for instance, don’t lend themselves to in-person learning. Students can pursue subjects that interest them without fear of judgment or reprisal.
2. Comfort of learning from your own home
Some days, you don’t want to leave the house. It’s understandable. Work becomes too stressful, friends become too demanding, and your body needs a rest. One of the hidden advantages of online learning is the element of flexibility and self-care it allows you to enjoy.
You can still exercise your mind without the daily grind of getting to school on time, fighting through traffic, even pushing through illness so as not to miss a class. If you pursue online learning, you can continue your coursework without stepping foot outside.
You can also take your classes with you on the go, studying new subjects from coffee shops, doctor’s office waiting rooms, and subway cars. You can continue learning even when your jet-setting instincts find you on the other side of the world.
Online learning also gives students the option to learn in whatever setting is most productive for them. Some people can’t concentrate without absolute silence. Others need to listen to music or surround themselves with activity to stay motivated. While classroom courses force a specific ambiance and format, studying online lets you mold your environment to your personal preferences.
3. Work while you study
Most people can’t afford to take six months off work to learn a new skill, which is the typical duration of a classroom course semester. In fact, recent research shows that between 50 and 75 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, depending on annual salary and household income.
If you take online classes, you can study while you work. After you get home from the office, knock out an online lesson or two, then repeat the process the next day. You might even squeeze in study sessions during your lunch break and on the weekends.
4. Convenience and flexibility
Between work, school, social obligations, and familial responsibilities, people have become far too over-scheduled. From the moment they wake up until they return to bed, it’s go, go, go.
Over-scheduling can have negative consequences. If you don’t have time to decompress, relax, and enjoy life, you start resenting every activity in which you participate.
Make no mistake: You should take online classes seriously. They’re designed to help you learn new skills, so you must give them your full attention.
However, they allow you to schedule your learning at your own convenience. Maybe you don’t have a spare minute in the morning or afternoon, but you can carve out an hour-long window each evening for your course.
Alternatively, maybe you need to split up your study sessions. While a physical course requires you to stay in the classroom for a set period of time, distance learning gives you more flexibility.
You might study or review course materials for an hour in the morning, then again for another hour at night. Either way, one of the many benefits of online learning is that the choice is entirely yours.
5. Earn bonus points for your resume
Job hunters who want to give their resumes a little extra rocket fuel can also benefit from online learning.
Searching for a job can feel like a full-time commitment, so you might not have time to visit a local college campus to learn those extra skills.
Another benefit of online classes: you can finish most courses quickly, or at least much faster than the typical semester-long classroom course. This means you don’t have to wait a number of weeks or months to add your new skills to your resume.
If you’re hoping to improve your resume, focus on courses that apply to your specific skill set or ideal job. You can also gain additional skills that might make you a more enticing candidate.
As an example, maybe you’re hoping to get a job as a structural engineer. Taking a course in the latest version of AutoCAD or even in data entry could cause hiring managers to give your resume a second glance. The effort shows that you care about advancing your skills.
Even if the course is only tangentially related to your job description, the prospective employer knows you’re willing and able to learn new skills or knowledge. Plus, your one extra skill may just give you that added edge over other applicants.
6. Reduced education costs
Scholastic achievement comes at a significant cost—at least, it does if you take the traditional route.
Did you know that a single course at the University of Chicago costs an average of $4,489? If you stick around to earn a four-year degree, you’ll pay an astonishing $188,556.
Online courses come at a much lower rate for a few reasons.
- Reduced overhead: Teachers, professors, and instructors don’t have to pay for classroom space, student materials, building utilities, or the other overhead costs that come with teaching in a physical classroom.
- Diversity of courses: You can choose an online course that fits your budget. When you’re stuck with one institution, you must select from its course catalog.
- Unconventional (but qualified) teachers: When you want to learn a language or how to do a craft, you don’t need a university-level instructor. People who have specialized experience might not work in academia, but they teach valuable courses at extremely low costs.
- No supplies needed: Online courses don’t require paper handouts, desks, chairs, paper, writing utensils, or any of the other supplies a physical classroom demands.
- Reusable material: Teachers who create online courses can recycle the same content for future students. They don’t have to continually administer the course over and over in person.
If you save money on education, you can put it toward other expenses, whether you’re saving for your next vacation or planning to buy a home.
Plus, educators who create online courses don’t have to save up money to open their own programs. They can get started right away with the right online tools.
7. More opportunities for interaction
Colleges and universities might seem like social gathering places, but they actually create insular environments. You’re exposed to the same people every day on a campus, so you don’t have many opportunities to branch out.
The borderless nature of the internet is one of the greatest benefits of online classes. Through an online course, you can meet people on the opposite side of the globe. Each interaction offers more opportunities for depth and growth as you explore your education and gain new skills.
You might connect with people you meet through social media and even in physical gatherings. If your course includes live webinars and live-streamed video, you can interact directly with fellow students and your instructor in real time.
8. Study at your own pace
Just as our interests are unique to us, so, too, are our learning styles. Everyone works and studies at their own pace.
Some people pick up new information like magnets, while others need repetition to fully absorb new knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with your learning style, but if you learn in the wrong environment, you’ll waste your time and money.
Fast learners often feel held back when they’re taking a course with slower learners. They want to jump forward with new information, but they’re forced to wait for their peers to catch up.
Meanwhile, slower learners can't rush through a lesson before they feel they've fully absorbed the material. Their paced learning style might result in undue pressure to catch up to other students. They may feel embarrassed by their learning pace, which can affect mental health as well as academic success.
Online classes benefit both styles of students. In an online learning environment, you set the pace. You’re not competing with anyone else, so you don’t have to feel pressured or held back. Instead, you can skip through or repeat the material as many times as you need to feel confident in your learning.
9. Expand your career horizons
If the 2008 financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as guaranteed job security. An economic downturn can force you to change directions entirely.
You don’t want to get caught unaware. If you’re proactive about expanding your career possibilities, you don’t have to put your fate in the hands of the economy. Instead, you make your own success.
If you want to climb the corporate ladder, for example, you could take courses on leadership, management, economics, and business administration. When you think you might want to change careers, inexpensive online courses let you test the waters first.
Don't be afraid to think beyond just taking classes, either. Consider creating and teaching a class of your own.
Building a successful online course can not only be a source of extra income, but also lead to bigger and better things. Our #KajabiHeroes have become successful business owners from wildly diverse backgrounds and with completely different interests. They all learned how to create an online course starting with a dream, a computer, and Kajabi.
10. Gain greater access to expertise
A huge advantage of online education is your access to people of all types and experience levels. You can choose to learn from people you admire and respect instead of the people assigned to teach classes at a school. You might even have a teaching hero who offers a course.
Learning from the best can help you become more successful in the future. It's akin to learning about art and science from DaVinci. Hearing about ideas, successes, and failures directly from top experts in a given subject helps you hone your craft better than any general classroom course could provide.
11. Expand your network
One of the advantages of online learning lies in your ability to work with teachers and students from all walks of life. The benefits don’t stop after the course ends.
You might meet your next business partner or collaborator in your online class. Alternatively, you can connect with fellow students on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Endorse one another’s skills, serve as headhunters for each other when you learn of job opportunities, and continue to support one another in your respective careers.
12. Greater ability to concentrate
As mentioned above, you can take an online course in any environment you choose. Additionally, you can review your course material when you’re in the right frame of mind.
If you’re worried about a friend in need, frustrated by a work problem, or sleep deprived from over-scheduling, you won’t get much benefit from an online course. Instead of forcing yourself to complete your homework or listen to a lecture, you can wait until you’re in a better head space.
Veteran online instructor Joe McCullough describes the best state of mind for learning as “one in which you feel positive, confident, resourceful and relaxed.” He goes on to note that negative emotions can have two negative consequences.
- Poor concentration. You’ll find your mind drifting to other things as you attempt to learn, and you’ll spend more time trying to absorb the information because of your distraction.
- Information recall. If you try to learn while in a poor frame of mind, you’ll struggle to remember what you learned at a later date. In other words, any time spent learning in a negative mindset is wasted.
To make the most of your learning experience, save your online learning time for when you know you’ll be in a good state of mind.
13. Avoid the dreaded commute
If you already commute to work (and even if you don’t), adding drive time to your day can make learning a chore. Even if you’re just driving around the block to a community learning center, you have to factor in that time when considering the value of the course.
Because online learning has no commute, you can use the time that you would normally waste driving to and from class with learning more about the subject you love.
If you regularly have to drive to work, another benefit of online classes is being able to learn while you commute. If you have audio lessons or Podcasts as part of your curriculum, just pop them on as you head into the office.
You can also listen to audio recordings of your course while doing the following:
- Cleaning and other chores
- Flying for vacation or business travel
- Completing home maintenance
- Waiting in line at a store
- Working out at the gym
You get the best of both worlds with online learning. Talk about efficiency!
14. Study with thousands of students worldwide
Sometimes your study partners matter just as much as your instructors. You can learn from fellow students as well as teachers in an online environment.
Imagine, for example, how much quicker you could learn another language if your fellow students were already native speakers!
For any subject, you can compare notes, share insights, and even figure out ways to work together in the future.
The internet doesn’t separate people by city, county, state, or country borders. Your fellow students come from different cultures that you may never have known about before. The more you broaden your horizons, the more powerful the learning experience becomes.
15. Reduced pressure
Let’s face it: Schools can create an obscenely competitive atmosphere. Professors often post grade-point averages and test results for all to see. Students are constantly comparing themselves to the rest of the class.
Some students aren't suited for the pressure of in-person classrooms and the effects can be devastating. In an article for the American Psychological Association, Amy Novotney reveals that students have experienced an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.
In fact, between 2012 and 2013, nearly 50 percent of students who answered a survey about pressure in the classroom admitted to seeking help from a counselor or therapist for mental health issues. Pressure can cause poor performance, apathy, and reduced knowledge absorption.
One of the top advantages of online education is how it offers a completely different environment. While students can still interact with one another and with their instructors, they don’t have to face a competitive atmosphere every day. They can learn in a safe environment that encourages learning instead of competition.
16. Boost your brain
Continued learning also means keeping your brain doing what it does best: thinking. An active brain improves mental health, reduces the chances of developing dementia, and trains the mind to absorb information faster.
When you continually challenge your brain, you keep it active and healthy, which can have long-term health and wellness benefits. A benefit of online classes is that you can work your brain out anytime, anywhere as long as you have internet connection.
Stimulate your brain by:
- Taking quizzes
- Watching educational videos
- Reading blog posts
- Listening to educational Podcasts
The more you stimulate your brain, the healthier you get.
17. Study according to your learning style
Although there is some controversy in the academic community over the subject of learning styles, there’s no argument that people absorb information in different ways.
Some people like to hear information. They process the data better that way, and they can remember the information for longer periods of time.
Visual learners like graphs, videos, photographs, and other things they can see. They respond to visual cues that help their brain work through problems and pick up new knowledge. Some students even learn best via e-learning gamification.
No matter how you learn best, you can find an online course to meet your needs. Visual learners, for instance, might want to consider a course that includes lots of video and graphic representations of data. If you learn better through listening, consider choosing a course that includes audio recordings and podcasts.
18. Build discipline and accountability
Online courses can also help with personal development.
- Do you find yourself procrastinating when you should complete tasks on your to-do list?
- Have you ever given up on a goal because you failed to meet one objective?
- Can you remember a time when you failed to finish a task because you simply lost interest?
- Have you ever let down a colleague or superior because of poor discipline?
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, online learning might help.
As you work through online courses, you learn to hold yourself accountable. You’re completing a goal because you want to gain benefits. YOU are responsible for your success.
19. Pursue a hobby or interest
Online courses aren’t all about high-level academia. In fact, many of them revolve around personal interests and hobbies.
People offer courses on just about every subject under the sun, which means you can learn about anything that interests you.
You could learn a new language or how to play the piano. You might discover your crafty side during a scrapbooking e-course or discover your inner shutterbug with a photography course.
Since online courses cost less than their physical counterparts, you don’t have to spring for as much of an investment. However, you still reap the rewards of learning something new, even if it has nothing to do with your job or career aspirations.
20. Improve communication skills
It's generally agreed that communicating via the written word is an art, even if it's just a simple email. Without the context of seeing someone's face and hearing their voice when speaking, it can be easy to misunderstand or get confused in an interaction that happens entirely over your computer.
Taking online courses force you to up your game when it comes to virtual and written communication. You learn to ask specific questions to get the answers you need and make compelling arguments through written language. Learning virtual etiquette can help you in your professional life, as well.
Traditional education versus online learning
We’ve already compared traditional education and online learning in a few specific ways, but let’s look at a few more comparisons to better understand the benefits of online classes.
There’s nothing wrong with traditional education. In fact, if you want a four-year degree or a graduate-level education, you should pursue it.
However, online learning opens up a new world of education. Flexibility, diversity of subject matter, and the ability expand your career horizons are just a few of the advantages of online learning.
If you’ve considered taking or teaching online classes, we encourage you to give them a try. The internet might just become your new favorite classroom.
Use Kajabi to create your own online course
If you’re thinking about creating an online course of your own, now’s the time. Kajabi offers all the tools you need to create your online course, as well as run your digital business. Not only will you share your knowledge with eager students, but you can also make money.