Online learning is a term used for education that is provided using the Internet as the communication medium. Online learning allows a student to complete study sessions from home or work, by using the Internet. Learning resources may be in the form of printed material or material downloaded from the Internet. Due to its interactive nature, which permits two way communication, the Internet has emerged as an ideal medium for providing distance learning.
Online learning has made huge inroads in the corporate sector as well. One of the biggest drivers for online learning is the fact that businesses understand the importance of creating knowledge based organizations in order to stay competitive. New technologies and information keep proliferating and employee skills need frequent updating. In addition, executives realized that aligning training with the business goals of their companies was critical.
Online learning can be categorized into three types. The first type is non-formal education that simply involves gathering information for self study or undertaking research for a specific purpose, such as a school project, presentation or a home assignment. The other type of online learning is formal and involves enrolling for a course with an academic institution with the intention of earning an educational qualification in the form of a diploma or degree. The third type is online corporate training, which is usually provided or sponsored by a company for their employees, with the objective of improving their skills and imparting information.
It has been argued that online learning is a competent, if not better, mode of instruction, as compared to traditional classroom instruction. On the flip side, another argument put forward is that online courses may help the learner acquire a deeper understanding of fundamentals, but it does little to polish or build up an individual’s analytical or reasoning skills.
Statistics indicate that classroom teaching is still a predominant form of pedagogy, but online learning in undoubtedly getting popular.