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How Online Learning Is Filling The Higher Education Gap

As universities and colleges across the country close under quarantine orders, over half of higher education lecturers have moved their lectures online. Over the last five years, eLearning has developed into a multi-hundred billion dollar a year industry. Now, as the pandemic threatens to bring higher education to a halt, schools and universities are expanding upon and increasing their support of online learning facilities. Truly, online learning is more important than ever, and it’s not just university students who can benefit from better eLearning resources. Those interested in learning new skills now have more resources at their disposal than ever before.

The premium options

For those looking to learn remotely, there have never been so many options. Over 450 Ivy League schools across the US are offering free online college courses. Online learning now can help improve your career prospects, putting you in a stronger position once the pandemic has ended. Accelerated classes, a relatively new phenomenon, offer college course content online in a much more condensed format. These online courses reduce 12-16 week college modules into 5 week online college courses. These courses are accredited by the colleges offering them and can aid students looking to quickly gain qualifications remotely. Platforms like coursera and edX offer over 13,000 online courses from 900 universities. These courses are free to view, and users are only required to pay if they want to complete the homework assignments they offer and receive a certificate of completion. Tech companies like IBM also produce online courses in technical fields like programming, which are then hosted on these platforms. 

The free eLearning resources

There are many freely available online hubs of information filled with resources and lectures across various subjects. YouTube in particular plays host to guides and tutorials on every topic imaginable, from microbiology to calculus. Organizations such as the Khan Academy also host lectures and guides to many high school subjects. The Linux Foundation’s free online courses have seen a 40% surge in subscriptions since the quarantine, demonstrating the importance individuals and employers are putting on remote learning. These resources can help you fill gaps in your knowledge or allow you to explore areas of higher education your degree left out. They can also prove invaluable in preparing students for college-level education.

 The challenges

While we’ve come a long way in recent years, there are still technological barriers to online learning for many Americans. Not all students have access to laptops or desktop computers. Perhaps a more fundamental challenge is the limited network infrastructure of many rural areas across the country. Many students are finding themselves unable to engage with online learning resources due to bandwidth limitations, causing them to be left behind.

The global crisis we find ourselves in has triggered a revolution of remote learning as employers and higher education institutions alike look to maintain pace. The resources that they’re developing are beneficial to everyone interested in learning new skills and filling gaps left in their education. However, it is important for educators to remember that not all students have access to the required hardware and connectivity for remote learning. Colleges need to consider ways of aiding these students who are vulnerable to falling behind without access to lectures and learning materials.

Written by Jennifer McLee

Education World Contributor