There’s a war going on: It’s the war on scheduling. Often times, your lifestyle is its own unique battleground. You’re constantly on the defensive against time, you’re only ally is quick wits and a bit of luck, which in itself won’t work without you. Your weapons include a calendar, your laptop and planning skills. But times are changing, from the language you speak, to the way that you learn. You’re constantly on the prowl for knowledge, except that there are road-bumps and unexpected challenges, holding you back. In fact, these days, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a student or an investment banker: the ability to schedule flexibly is your priority.
How about this: Yohana is a young entrepreneur currently experiencing her first days in career mode. She lives just outside of town – away from the city center, but not too far out. Much like any other woman, Yohana has duties to fulfill: she has a husband, works a full time job, takes care of her parents and looks after her kids every day of the week. Then all of a sudden, career kicks in. She’s in charge of clients, not just in Germany, but almost the entire European continent and like many international people; she struggles with adapting to cultures, learning new languages and keeping in touch with her clients. However, she is also part of a growing trend that’s catching on. As much as she loves face-to-face learning, she also embraces online learning.
Flexibility is a must for most young adults. Another growing trend is “work-life-balance”. This of course is easier said that done. Most people know or at the least have heard of it, however if it was as easy as flicking on a light switch, we’d all be resting on our sofa beds, or learning how to cook better or learning a new language. Before online learning was even considered, it was simply a catch-phrase. Busy people took night classes after work, hopping on their bikes, cycling through the windy night as they sit in crammed classes and begin the exciting journey of learning.
Now, we find ourselves at a time where learning can be achieved anywhere through means of technology and while technology changes, our lifestyles and flexibility often don’t. 50 years ago, you’d organize everything with a pager that was marketed as an alarm clock plus belt and jeans. But these days, scheduling and flexibility has never been more important, especially for those that work beyond borders. To the average adult, that flexibility is becoming more and more of a requirement. But flexibility isn’t something that can be bought at your local gas station, or touched and be seen. Students have to make flexibility.
Our girl, Yohana, works and is a daughter to someone as well as a friend and a sister. Right off the bat, she is already working multiple jobs at once. She has commitments to her family and dedication to her job and a passion for her career. She has no choice. Online learning however, has provided students like Yohana with an alternative to accessing education. We live at a time where 18 -20 year olds or even 14-16 year olds require flexibility that a Banker in the 70s would need. Much like Yohana, many boys and girls want work life balance. Where activities such as athletics, language skills and further education can be accessed through institutions, online learning allows these students to access them with the much needed flexible scheduling and low cost alternative.
Working and Studying
The Germany Trade and Invest center suggested that, at least in Germany, the working hour exceeds no more that 40 hours per week. Thus, maintaining a work life balance is not a steep learning curve and our girl, Yohana, could sure use that extra time to better communicate with her clients. In the sense of both, having the freedom to enjoy speaking in the same language and clear-cut audio.
Information from Diana G. Oblinger, author “Education and Information technology”, stated that at least 5.6 million students are enrolled in an online class as of 2009. Now, that number is 6.3 million and that’s only in the US. In fact, a study done by UNESCO in their IDEAL project (Impact of Distance Education on Adult Learning) states that the most active online learning countries in Europe were Greece, United Kingdom, Italy and Germany.
If we translated these statistics, we would get the answer that the education industry is shaping and changing. Traditional adults like Yohana, studied at a traditional university and now that she’s in the real world, it’s time for her to take a step further. Adults, like Yohana, require flexible scheduling and need a non-traditional method to fulfill her family and career expectations. Authors such as Oblinger, suggested that adults can ease up their scheduling and not murder their calendars via online learning means.
The word “classroom” will soon have a different meaning. When you first hear the word, you’d think back to your old high school, with rows and rows of seats as far as the eye can see, filled with students docked down with hoodies and sweatshirts. The word “classroom” will mean nothing when adults can learn and access whatever class they’re taking at home, in a café, in a holiday home and more or less any part of the Earth.
Like Yohana, these adults aren’t concerned with prestige, labels, branding, what exotic town their learning institute is in, or whether or not the business is associated with social status. These are people who are concerned with solving real world problems, whilst battling time constraints and schedule issues and she recently had clients who speak multiple languages from different parts of Europe. But that doesn’t matter; she takes language classes through online learning to help her with that. What she needs is flexibility.
Live Online Learning
Choosing an online learning platform is like finding night classes, only the process is simpler. Much simpler. You screen out the shady, untrusted ones that are too far from your house or office and pick the ones that are close. Except that you don’t even have to do that anymore with online learning. You can join a session held in Belgrade, while you are in Hamburg. That one step already eliminated. There are plenty of platforms to choose from, one of the most noteworthy is Live Online Learning, or the abbreviated LOL. The first thing you’ll notice is how incredibly easy it is to sign up. No paperwork or tedious application process. You fill in the details and in 5 minutes, you’re set and ready.
Yohana, like most adults out there, has international clients and wants to learn English. The nearest language school is a 5 km bike ride away and she has other priorities, such as university classes at 8 in the morning and preparing meals for the weekend. She can go through the process of reading thick phone books and cold-calling teachers to tutor her at home, adding transport costs which will be out of Yohana’s expense and given her finances, she’s not in the mood to borrow from the bank any time soon. So, she turns to online learning. She goes back home, turns on her laptop, arranges a meeting with her teacher and on the knowledge train she goes.
The beauty of online classes is that it’s repeatable anywhere and at anytime. She can be learning English while she’s visiting her family in Spain and afterwards take guitar lessons while on her USA trip.
Let’s be honest, most of us avoid commuting like the flu. What better way to wind down from a stressful day at work than to sit in a traffic jam and endure more stress. Students and professional workers have priorities, and sitting in traffic is most likely not one of them. The weather isn’t exactly helpful as well, as snowstorms and blizzards are not only dangerous, it is also unproductive. The economic costs of canceling classes is devastating, for both students and teachers and is highly inefficient. No more time is wasted and days gone without learning won’t be a problem.
Not to mention the cost of accommodation in som extreme examples. With traditional night classes, you’d probably spend hours on end, searching for close dorms and accommodation, because like the average college student, you’d try to find the sweet spot, only to find out that all the rooms have been taken. You’re not exactly keen on spending half your budget on transport and accommodation, so you’ll have to make decisions.
At this point, Live Online Learning is the Band-Aid to your open wounds. You sit at home, on a futon or your work desk and dive straight into class. After all, why buy a cow when you can buy milk from the grocery store? We are in the midst of a global transport-pocalypse. Except that this isn’t the fun kind where you can fantasize about saving the day. The only apocalypse that’s going to happen is to your wallet as you cash out euros after euros just on transport and commuting alone.
The focus of online learning is flexibility. To say that online learning will grant you flexibility is an understatement. You earn it by default once you’ve registered for a class. You’re flexible class-wise as well. Some offer classes from plasma physics to learning how to speak Indonesian. We’re talking about an institution that offers traditional classes and taught in a modern way. It’s not every day that you can wake up and take any class you’d like, but with online learning, students like Yohana can easily decide to learn painting in the morning and study coding in the evening.
Online Learning – Available in a local shop near you!
Don’t be mislead, Live Online Learning is a tool for teachers as much as it is for students. In fact, Online learning has paved way for new industries and a way for small businesses to reach their customers. Moving away from textbook studies and theories, there are of course real life examples. Interact! is a language school situated in Hamburg and it offers online learning as an alternative for its students. Business is as usual, but every dog has its days – sometimes, customers are overwhelmed and their available times don’t match with the teacher’s time. The result is a schedule-organizer’s worst nightmare. The solution was simple: what if teachers and students were taught using video cameras, so students can stay at home and teachers can stay at home and communicate through the internet.
It doesn’t stop at language schools. Several multinational corporations organize meetings via web cam and online platforms. This example is not strictly “learning”, it is however a useful concept to know. Back in the day, you’d have to send emails to each other back and forth, organize phone calls and possibly flights. Now, from Mumbai to Sydney, you can discuss business.
Online learning is a part of a new era of simplicity. We used to listen to music through CDs, now we YouTube it. We used to watch movies on DVD and now we stream it. Online learning is next on the conveyor belt. Educators have been asking the wrong question. It’s not about the what, or the whys or the whos. Rather it’s all about the how. How is it helping the students and how is it helping the teachers. Textbooks, for example might not even be necessary. 20 or so years ago, if you were to say. “I think textbooks are useless and will die out”, people would immediately think you’re some kind of hippie weirdo who’s only job is to wake up in the morning and blame the government for everyone’s problems. Books have been a part of human culture since the dawn of time and there’s no way people will ever stop using books.
But now, with online learning, it’s perfectly logical to ask “will we need textbooks anymore?” Of course, textbooks will always be part of education and learning, however with Live Online Learning, how we use textbooks could be entirely different. For one, it’s important to note that no matter who you are, student or adult, you’re probably sick and tired of having to travel around everywhere carrying tons of thick books, when it could all be traveling light weight and have everything in a laptop. Online learning and e-textbooks go hand-in-hand. When Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, first proposed the idea of streaming movies and TV Shows through the internet, traditional retail giants of entertainment laughed the idea off and passed it on as “frivolous”. However, much like online learning, Hastings believed that what people want is to stay at home and achieve their needs without having to leave their front door. Think of online learning in the same light. You’re achieving the same output with fewer resources.
Online Learning – It’s for Everybody
So far we’ve covered Online Learning for adults, students but as a matter of fact, online learning is accessible by just about anyone. Even the youngest pupil can learn their favourite subjects at home. This also gives them more useful and productive activities to do, rather than increasing their high score on candy crush. Here’s an idea, why not increase their IQ scores instead and with online learning, children can stay at home and access videos and catch up on last week’s Math homework. Sharing information has never been easier and only today has online learning been put on the spotlight.
Inspiration from Online Learning
As human beings, our imagination virtually knows no limits. If everyone could be astronauts, then we probably would. So why aren’t there more astronauts in our society? A possible explanation is interest and motivation. Going back to our girl, Yohana, she spends most of her weekends lying around in bed, possibly meandering back and forth between the student lounge in her dorm and back into her room. All the while, the time she spent pondering about what movie she should watch next, she could have learned a new language, or a new instrument or any set of skill. But to figure out our question “Why aren’t there more astronauts?” we’d have to understand how we get inspiration. As most of us know, an inspiration is like having an epiphany. It’s not something that can be switched on and off like a light switch and if we want inspiration, we’d automatically get it. Inspiration comes from sources and there are plenty of ways that you can find inspiration, from books, education sites, TV shows and given today’s demographic, most of us would get it online. Let’s face it, most of us wanted to learn French because we heard that one robust, thick and exotic French accent from a scene in a Hollywood movie. But given that signing up for a French class means more energy spent, more phone calls to make and more French people to respond to, most of us forget about it and continue with more important activities, like seeing if a millionaire YouTube vlogger’s baby is a boy or girl.
As mentioned earlier, instead of asking the “what”, we should all be asking the “how”. How do we keep finding sources of inspiration and how do we apply ourselves, so we don’t forget about it after 5 minutes? The answer to that is to put yourself in an environment that’s comfortable to you. Whether it’d be your home or a café, you’d want knowledge to come to you and not the other way around. You don’t want to pursue your ideas, because you make a mental calculation that you’d have to splash out resources such as transport, time and energy. But now we have everything in our laptops. YouTube, Online Learning, Google, the works.
Should you sign up for online classes?
All your friends seem to be signing up for online classes, like there’s no tomorrow and there’s a good reason why. A lot of the times, it’s because of flexible scheduling and time constraints. A study done by the Economics and Education Review revealed that distance between home, the workplace and university is the underlying factor of enrollment. Why was online learning invented in the first place? The same reason why anyone would want to start a business or sell a product or idea: because it solves an underlying need. People want knowledge, so you give it to them. You can either do this the traditional way, through stores and shopping malls. Or you can sell it through an online platform. Amazon tried this, and it worked. Netflix tried this and it worked. Online learning was first created by colleges in North America, who’d like to allow their students to engage in classes, even through those tough blizzards and long distance travels. Absent days may not seem like much on paper, but in reality it costs a lot when thought about. Knowledge is actually a valuable asset and people are willing to pay more to those that have more. Instead of knowing how to play no instruments, why not start learning or learn 3 languages instead of 2. Take private lessons without having to leave your front door.
The fact that we have access to education with the click of a few buttons is one of the greatest miracles of the modern age. For most of human history, knowledge was kept jealously at the affluent level of society and it was one of the unfair realities of living at that time. That’s right, what family you were born to could influence whether or not you’d be educated or not. But times are drastically changing and we no longer live in an age where those that can afford to buy a car can have easier access to education. You can simply, sit at home and enjoy a long list of subjects to learn and pitch in seminars. Thus, busy adults like our girl, Yohana, can educate herself and it might not take much paperwork or her time and energy. So should you subscribe to the idea of online courses? Why shouldn’t you? For all we know, it might be up your alley. We learn in different ways and who’s to say that through digital means isn’t a way to learn. These days, there are plenty of businesses and institutes that offer online learning as an alternative to traditional means and that’s the beauty of it all. You can still learn through traditional means and if the timing isn’t right, you no longer have to sacrifice days and can learn through websites.