Online education is much more than just Zoom calls! Over the last few years, remote learning and online education have greatly increased in popularity, and there are now hundreds more programs at the graduate and postgraduate level than ever before.
There is now specifically tech (called edutech or edtech) for online learning, as well as teaching platforms that are designed to facilitate the delivery of digital lectures. The results that students experience with online learning are comparable with in-person study, and the option to study online has significantly increased the accessibility of education.
While not all programs or subjects are particularly well suited to online study, there are a number of sectors that have benefitted the most from the rise of online education – keep reading to learn more.
It may come as a surprise, but nursing is actually one of the sectors that has derived the most benefit from the surge in popularity of online learning. There is always a high demand for registered nurses (RNs), but there is an even higher demand for nurses with specialist training and postgraduate education.
Programs such as the online BSN to MSN-PMHNP degree offered at Spring Arbor University give nurses the training they need to take their career to the next level. There is an incredible amount of demand for highly trained, compassionate psychiatric nurses, and the need for mental health providers only continues to grow.
The BSN to MSN-PMHNP program is perfect for RNs who are learning to develop their clinical practice. They can enhance their skills and learn how to work with psychiatric patients with compassion while also advocating for their care. The program combines online learning with in-person clinical residency and also pairs students with experienced advisors.
There are many other similar programs that are designed to help nurses take the next step in the academic world. Online nursing programs tend to mix online lectures and seminars with in-person clinical placements so that students can gain the hands-on experience that is so important to the work of RNs.
Wellness and fitness
Another sector that has gotten a major boost from online education is the wellness and fitness industry. It is now possible to complete fully online kinesiology and nutrition degrees at the graduate and post graduate levels. Those who are interested can also become certified personal trainers and dieticians.
The industry has also grown as a result of websites and social media platforms that have fostered a growing interest in fitness culture, health and wellness. There are tens of thousands of “fitspo”, or fitness inspiration, style accounts on social media and, while they are not all created equally, some of them are run by qualified dieticians, personal trainers and athletes who provide high-quality content for free.
Computer science and IT
This industry is perhaps not a surprise. While individuals studying computer science and IT are typically more comfortable with online learning, the sector itself has also benefitted due to an influx of newly trained professionals.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the computer and information technology sector is expected to grow up to 15% from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the average for many other occupations. According to the BLS, this growth roughly translates to the creation over 682,800 new jobs over the decade.
There is clearly a high demand for IT professionals, and it is likely that this estimate could increase significantly as we do not yet know what new technology could be invented or released in the intervening years. Online education opportunities produce a means for the sector to continue growing as more and more professionals are trained and qualified online.
Finally, education is one sector that has benefitted significantly from the rise of online learning. There is a high demand for teachers at the elementary and high school level across the country, and there is also a continued need for academic professionals who have experience with online learning.
Having taken a remote learning course helps future teachers understand the experience of their online students, troubleshoot problems the students may have and familiarize themselves with the growing array of new edtech platforms and offerings.
Many people also decide to transition into a teaching role later on in their career after having tried a number of other jobs. Online education is generally more accessible, and online courses also typically have lower fees than traditional degree programs. This means that it is easier than ever before for aspiring teachers to take an online course and begin to gain their teaching credentials while also working.
Online education allows for there to be more teachers available to teach future generations, as well as more teachers with postgraduate degrees and expert training.
The growth of online education
While there has been interest in online education for years, the mainstream acceptance of online study is certainly a more recent development. Now there are nearly more people studying via online or hybrid formats at a graduate and postgraduate level than there are people studying in traditional, fully in-person programs.
Part of the reason for this shift is the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, all education from kindergarten up to post graduate study had to transition from in-person to remote learning. This meant that all programs, regardless of the subject, school or degree level, were suddenly digital, remote programs.
One of the results this had was that online learning was normalized and more and more people began to think of it as a fully legitimate way to learn. While the pandemic has subsided and in-person classes have resumed around the world, the impact of the pandemic lingers in that online learning has become more popular than ever before.
The benefits of online learning
Online learning has stuck around after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided because it has a number of key benefits. One of the most important aspects of remote learning is that it tends to be much more flexible than traditional, in-person study.
While traditional forms of learning require students to be in class each day for specific timeframes, remote learning allows students to fit education into their busy schedules. While some students require the structure of traditional learning, others thrive in an environment where they are able to choose the times of the day when they can study.
This inherent flexibility also makes education much more accessible. Whereas students undertaking traditional courses need to fit the rest of their life around their classes, tutorials, labs, essays and exams, students in remote learning programs are able to fit in education where and when they can.
As a result, many people who need to work or care for family members are able to continue doing so while also pursuing a degree that will assist them in their career development or help them follow a particular passion or dream.
Is online learning for you?
There are clearly many important benefits to online learning, but it is certainly not a learning style that works for everyone. If you have never tried taking an online course, you may be unsure of whether or not online learning is the right form of education for you.
One easy way to try out remote learning is to take one of the many thousands of online courses that are offered for free or for very nominal fees. Taking a few of these courses will give you a sense of whether or not you like learning remotely.
You can also reach out to the course administrators at the school you are interested in. They will likely have materials that they can provide, answer your questions and refer you on to alumni or professors to answer the questions they are not able to answer themselves.
The future of learning?
While in-person learning is essential in some degree programs, such as medical school, it is becoming more and more clear that remote and online learning provide accessible education opportunities without compromising on content. It is likely that online education will continue to grow in popularity, particularly as education technology improves and innovates.
There will always be a place for in-person education, but the rise of online education should be a cause for celebration. The rise of remote learning is making it possible for more people than ever before to pursue their dreams and put their career goals on track.