3 Ways Online Learning Benefits Students
Many students look at online learning as a “second choice” when they cannot attend an in-person class. They may think that attending a traditional in-person class has more benefits and will help them learn more. With the quality and quantity of online classes offered today, these assumptions are not entirely true. In some ways, online learning can benefit students even more, especially students willing to get out of their comfort zone and experience a different way of learning. In this way, we see online learning as an alternative to the traditional classroom, not a second choice. Here are three ways online learning benefits students:
Online learning can be more student centered
In smaller online classes, the teacher acts a coach or mentor, using a variety of strategies to present the information, such as graphics, writing on the “whiteboard,” pictures, current articles, and videos.  All these are at the teachers’ fingertips during an online lesson and greatly benefit students in providing information from a variety of sources in real time. Students can engage more and must collaborate outside of the classroom through Skype group meetings and  discussion boards. In online classes, students are encouraged to research information and to be creative in classroom assignments. For example, a student can create a PowerPoint presentation using current pictures, embedded videos and other sources to enhance the presentation. This ultimately encourages students to actively learn and become more independent in their learning. Active learning is an excellent way to acquire and retain information.
Increased Teacher Time with Students
Online classes are typically smaller, with anywhere from 2 – 8 students at a time. Each student’s information is sent to each teacher ahead of time so that the teacher is aware of the students’ goals, strengths, and weaknesses. During class, students have the choice to either ask the teacher a direct question or type it in the chat box so they do not interrupt the class. This choice for students facilitates more communication between the teacher and the student, especially if the student is shy or is hesitant to ask his/her question in front of the class. Additionally, online teachers are available outside of class via e-mail or message boards, and typically respond quickly to student questions and requests.
Expanded Access to Information
As the student becomes more independent and the teacher acts as a mentor, access to the most up-to-date information in a variety of forms is greatly expanded online. Students are able to discover the information when given assignments, not just listen and take notes. Teachers may assign homework that requires students to think critically about the answers and to access different sources to complete the assignment. Students can also interact with exercises and tests online, getting instant feedback, instead of just memorizing the answers.

There are many advantages to taking an online class, from student-centered lessons to student independence in learning. Why not try it? It may surprise you and change the way you learn!