In 1728, American Caleb Phillips advertised the very first correspondence course, which taught students how to master shorthand.
Distance learning has come a long way since then and the vast majority of courses are now delivered online. But does online learning really work when it comes to more hands on subjects?
Read on to discover why we think it does.
The e-Learning industry has grown by
since the year 2000
The benefits of online learning
Online learning is a great way to advance your career without sacrificing your income, as it allows you to study around your work and family life. There are no additional travel or childcare costs and you can usually work at your own pace.
Becoming an online learner also means that you’re free to choose your classroom, so if you prefer a little company and background chatter while you study, why not find study online your favourite cafe? All you need is a laptop and a decent internet connection.
How is technology transforming online learning?
Thanks to recent technological advances, learning providers are now delivering their courses in more interactive ways, which is great news if you’re studying a practical subject. Here are three examples of the tech that are transforming online learning.
As well as allowing learners to pause while they digest important information, videos enable teachers to communicate their passion and demonstrate practical skills. While learning providers have been delivering courses via DVD for many years, the development of learning management systems has made it much easier to share video recordings.
By allowing teachers and students to log into their course learning platform, systems like Blackboard, Canvas and Moodle provide a dedicated online space that is perfect for uploading and accessing course videos.
The Personal Trainer course run by ICS Learn makes the most of these improvements in technology, as students are required to develop a fitness programme, before filming and uploading a training session. ICS even provide a dedicated app which enables learners to upload their videos from a phone or tablet.
If you enjoy learning practical skills via video, it’s also worth exploring the plethora of free online courses available on YouTube. Whether you need to master Photoshop, embroider an eyelet or wallpaper a bedroom, you’ll find a free course to teach you the basics.
We’re particularly impressed by Brazilian Paloma Cipriano’s videos, which were inspired by a desire to remodel her bedroom floor. Whether she is plastering walls or tiling a bathroom, Paloma’s DIY videos aim to boost the confidence of her largely female following.
Paloma Cipriano’s most popular YouTube video
has been viewed over
When it comes to gaining practical skills, online immersive training environments like Virtual Reality and 360 video are becoming an increasingly popular option.
The differences between VR and 360 degree video
360 degree video
VR and 360 degree video are already being adopted by education providers who deliver practical training. By capturing clinical scenarios using 360 degree video footage, one UK medical school is enabling students to experience intensive situations and make decisions in a safe space. Doing this has already doubled the amount of simulated training exercises trainee doctors receive.
360 degree headsets are also being used to give trainees at the Royal School of Military Engineers the chance to explore maintenance bays. Students are using the new technology to learn about the position of tools and to discover the various features on offer.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen is using VR to train 10,000 employees in production and logistics. Featuring realistic workshop environments and employee avatars, Volkswagen’s Digital Reality Hub also brings together experts from all over the world, allowing multiple users to collaborate and exchange ideas.
Employers are discovering the potential of immersive technology too. In 2017, an experiment by Google found that prospective baristas who received VR training learned much more quickly and made fewer mistakes than those who had real life training. Meanwhile, trainees at the supermarket Walmart are preparing for the madness of black Friday via a 360 degree video that transports them into a typical store.
Affordable phones and tablets are making it easier than ever for prospective learners to access online education. So if you’re interested in a more informal style of learning, why not check out the vast array of apps on offer?
What exactly is an app?
Apps are simple programmes that you can download and play on your mobile phone or device. Head over to your phone’s online store and you’ll find a wide range on offer, including social media apps, music apps, messaging apps, gaming apps and educational apps.
If you’re looking to learn a practical skill, you’ll find plenty of apps to choose from. Have you always wanted to play the piano? Then simply download one of many apps that will transform your phone into a keyboard complete with 88 keys, interactive sheet music, tutorials and feedback on your accuracy and timing. Alternatively, you could learn to play the guitar, the bass or even the ukulele!
There are lots of other creative options available, including drawing apps that feature a variety of tools, craft apps that will teach you to quilt, sew, knit or crochet and woodwork apps that will teach you how to plane wood or build a bookshelf. If you’re feeling inspired by the Great British Bake Off, you’ll also find some excellent cooking apps.
Perhaps you’re looking for a way to get fit without getting bored? Then an exercise app could be the answer. Whether you fancy toning up, cycling or jogging, there’s a huge variety to select from, with tailored work out plans and nutritional information also on offer.
Exercise apps aren’t just about exercising your body either, so if you’re feeling frazzled, why not learn to calm your mind and your body by downloading a yoga app? There are also some excellent meditation apps available. These will teach you to breathe properly, use visualisation and quiet any distracting thoughts.
While most fitness apps offer a free basic version, some also offer in-app purchases, which allow you to unlock extra routines and features. Although these might come in handy if you become bored with the free routines, they can be pricey, so we recommend making sure that your phone can’t be accessed by any curious children!
Whether you’re keen to get cracking on a new career or you’re looking for something to fill long leisurely afternoons, there’s an online course that’s perfect for you. So how about starting your learning journey with us?