The internet has had a profound effect on the way we live, study and do business. Online training, complex databases, digital marketing and network communications have made many traditional processes not only outdated, but much more importantly, irrelevant.
For example, anyone in their fifties or older, will find it easy to remember a time when there was no internet and no digital databases. Who can remember having to use the now defunct card classifications and call numbers to find a book or journal in the library? If you didn’t have a direct reference for an article, you had to manually search through the indexes of relevant journals for something that came close to what you needed, then check their references, and so on.
From e-commerce websites to interactive business platforms and new start-ups, just about every aspect of our lives has been invaded by the internet and its accompanying digital mediums. Most of us keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues using SMS or emails via smart phones, iPads, tablets, PCs and laptops, even going so far as to find tradespeople, insurance quotes, jobs, pets, holidays, food and cars online. Without the internet, most of our lives would come to a screeching halt.
The same can be said for education, since online training has become an extremely popular option compared to the more traditional modes of learning. It’s so popular in fact, that colleges and universities are starting to offer some of their own courses over the internet, to ensure that they stay relevant.
However, whilst we may appreciate the rise in digital mediums for business purposes, why has education also followed this same pathway?
Online training is more cost effective
With the rise in the internet and digital media and ‘the recession that had to happen’ – all coming together in the late 80’s and early 90’s, it was the perfect storm that led to more cost effective lifestyle options. One of these alternatives was online training with entrepreneurs and consumers alike taking to the internet with relish, allowing digital forms of education to flourish. The reason was that the internet offered easy cost-effective access to thousands of courses, previously only available in colleges and universities.
Without a doubt, the cost of further education via a university is much more expensive than an equivalent cost via online training facilities that offer accredited courses. Even with government subsidies, the cost of a basic degree at a university can easily cost $15,000 or more, whilst an equivalent online course can be a bare fraction of this cost. Universities also pass on increasing costs to their students, continually increasing student fees, whereas an online institution has only minimal costs that are easily absorbed.
As the impact of technology increases and the pace of new changes continues to grow, there is an increasing demand to understand these new technologies and their applications. University courses can’t keep up with these demands, because they can’t create online training courses quickly enough and they only have a limited number of places. On the other hand, online educational facilities can quickly create accredited courses and there are no limitations to the number of students who can enrol in these courses.
Students are comfortable with online training
Our young people have literally grown up with the internet and mobile devices. As mentioned earlier, many people in their fifties and older, can remember a time when the internet and mobile phones didn’t exist. For younger people however, their lives are shaped by the internet and it seems perfectly natural that they seek to learn using online training courses.
Learning over the internet, instead of at a university, is perfectly acceptable to them and has become a way of life that they accept wholeheartedly. That’s not to say that older people don’t embrace the internet just as avidly, it’s just that to our youth, it’s practically an extension of their very existence.
As we all know, learning must be relevant and that includes the mode of learning, so to maintain engagement with students today, there has been a natural progression towards online training and a culture of self-directed learning. Personal preferences and being able to choose what they want to learn in their own time, has become important to our youth and can easily be achieved via online training courses.
Often, a mix and match mentality to learning is far easier accomplished via digital education than via a university environment. It’s fair to say that the old adage of one-size-fits all is no longer relevant to education. The result is an empowerment our youth that is facilitated, encouraged and cemented by the availability and success of online training courses.
Online training offers instant gratification and up-to-date learning
One of the criticisms of our youth is that they want instant gratification and they want it now. For employees, this mentality is a positive attribute that is fulfilled via the internet. For example, if they need to learn a new skill or suffer a significant knowledge gap, it doesn’t take long to access this information on the internet.
People today want to learn at a time when they need that information, because a lack of information, skills or data can prevent them from completing a specific task at work. This means that learning must support the activities and tasks they perform at work, focusing on acquiring skills, rather than on learning theories.
This is where online training becomes invaluable, because employees can quickly access this information in real time, updating their skills without missing a beat. Online training is all about personalised, relevant and contextualised learning that can be precisely tailored to suit an individual’s current needs. They can also take their time learning these new skills, removing the pressure and intimidation that is often experienced by students when attending structured learning in a classroom environment. This ability to quickly access relevant information in a low pressure environment allows education to be more productive, essentially accelerating the learning process.
On the other side of the coin, online training courses and the ability to tailor their own learning, makes people more responsible and accountable for their own education. The ability to grow their knowledge base and hone their skills on an as-needed basis, not only empowers our youth, but also makes them better equipped to problem solve at work and makes them more competitive in their chosen careers.
Online training offers continuous learning and career development
With corporations investing millions of dollars in online education and development programs for their employees, the digital age has led to a new focus on continuous learning. Online training delivered digitally has now become the norm within many large organisations; employees now expect this to be part of their working environment.
In many instances, employees themselves are pushing for continuous learning opportunities and we have reached a stage where a culture of development is now often the principal driving force behind a company’s employment success. The provision of multiple learning opportunities by employers is a response to the expectation of employees that they no longer need to remain locked into one career path. Expanding their roles, moving from one role to another, and virtually reinventing themselves over their working life is a future that seems not only right, but eminently logical to our youth.
Let’s not forget the upskilling that is required by many older Australians, who for whatever reasons, may need to return to the workforce. There is also the need for older employees to upskill simply to remain competitive in their jobs. Online training provides a multitude of opportunities for older employees or those returning to work, to learn new skills, fill knowledge gaps and continue to give our youth a run for their money.
It’s fair to say that continuous learning and digital education are fast becoming a critical commodity for the success of many corporations. Online training that delivers learning opportunities that are always available, whatever the time of day, and on a range of mobile platforms, offers employees a dynamic learning environment that is fully expected, appreciated and embraced.
If employers want to retain and engage their employees, they need to provide the right learning opportunities at the right time to their workforce. Helping their employees to grow professionally is now one of the keys to the success of an organisation.
Online training provides digital education for everyone
People of all generations and backgrounds can now take advantage of continuous learning via online training courses. With a plethora of choices, all of which can be tailored to an individual’s specific needs, individuals can now build an education profile that matches their interests, needs and careers choices. Selecting options that better suit their lifestyles and their needs, and stacking their skills and qualifications, offers employees the freedom to truly carve their own path in a manner that has previously been unavailable to the masses.