distance learning trendsTechnology continues to change the way we work, play and learn. Distance education has provided a much more convenient way for adults and busy individuals to get an education. It has helped improve the education industry for people who would otherwise never have the time to further their education. As the Internet continues to offer new resources in our daily lives, here are 10 distance learning trends to keep an eye on.

1. “Schedule Shopping”

In a traditional classroom setting, a student had a list of courses they had to take and a list of times offered for classes. There were no options for the student to take alternative schedules. Now, with online learning, a student has more opportunity to choose the right school and class that fits what they need instead of relying on only a handful of on-campus options.

2. Retention Rates

Because online learning courses are more convenient, the retention of new students can be significantly higher. Students don’t have the stress of making it to class on time, fighting for parking, and the getting a seat in a crowded classroom. Because of the schedule convenience for both students and teachers, these programs are seeming to have an improved retention rate.

3. Improved Online Platforms

A decade ago, there were very few choices for online learning platforms. Today, many schools are either developing their own or have a variety of software options to choose from. Better applications make it easier for students to take exams and collaborate with instructors among a variety of other resources.

4. Better Opportunities for Rural Communities

For rural students, the closest classroom for a course someone is interested in attending could be hours away. So for some students, extended travel time or lack of transportation options makes going back to school extremely difficult. Online learning courses offer these students a plethora of opportunities without worrying about a long commute.

5. Self-Directed Learning

Online learning offers students a way to find the right way for them to learn. Whether it’s at night, morning or in the afternoon, students have more flexibility in their schedule. This can lead to better grades and commitment from the student.

6. Increased Adult Learning

Traditionally, once adults gained responsibilities such as a career and a family, they no longer had the time to go back to school. This led to a reduction in diplomas for people over the age of 25. Now, adults have expanded opportunities through online courses. Enhanced education can improve career choices and increase salary demands.

7. Increased Number of Programs

When online learning was first introduced, there were very few course options. Even when some schools offered online courses, students still needed to report to the school for certain tests or course components. Now, a myriad of courses are available in a broad range of topics and interests, and in most cases, nearly all of them are completely online.

8. Blurred Line Between Online and On-Campus Learning

A decade ago, diplomas from online courses were few and far between when compared to traditional classroom learning. Many employers didn’t understand that online learning offered the same comprehensive course of study. In the last several years, however, online learning has become so mainstream that most people do not see such a dichotomy between traditional classroom learning and online learning.

9. Reduced Gas and Paper Requirements

Online learning programs actually contribute to the Go Green movement. Students no longer need to drive their cars to campus, which saves money on gas. There is a reduction in paper resources needed for traditional note taking and printouts. Online learning courses really can save money and resources.

10. More Affordable Classes

Everyone knows that furthering your education can get expensive. Since online learning requires fewer resources, this savings is often passed along to the student. Online learning trends continue to show increasing options for lower tuition, monthly payment plans and less money spent on books and supplies.