Today’s world is steadily ebbing out traditional methods and conventions in favor of modern technology in various facets of day-to-day living. Thanks to technology, one’s location no longer affects how we communicate, socialize, or work, so why should it restrict how we learn?
Online universities were introduced just about two decades ago and were seen to be inferior to traditional universities because of a presumed questionable quality. Yes, there are some online programs that offer nothing more than a series of PDFs strung together and there have been some embarrassing online university failures that have played into this perception. Online universities also don’t offer the full campus life experience as traditional universities do and are often seen as a tradeoff for the convenience, flexibility, and affordability that learners enjoy. While online education may not be the most suitable option for everyone, the disruption its having on the industry can no longer be ignored. There are several factors that make online education the most sustainable way to offer students the ability to design the learning experience they desire, and also what the world needs in terms of scalable, continuous learning that empowers society.
Using the US as a case study, more than 6.3 million students in America were enrolled in at least one online course- signaling an almost 6% increase from the preceding year (US News and World Report). About 30% of higher education students are enrolled in alteast one online course (Babson Survey Research Group). These are continuing growth trends that has been consistent for 16 years.
There is absolutely no doubt that as it has for the health, communications, transportation, and other sectors, technology is here to transform education. Here are several reasons why:
More fluid access to faculty and advisors
With online learning, support is at your fingertips. You can communicate with faculty and course advisors through various avenues and in more relaxed settings. Being able to live-chat and send emails to professors at any time gives learners the flexibility they need in seeking out the assistance and instant interactions they require to be successful. For added support, online universities also pair students with advisors that counsel them on anything from academic progress to career goals and overall wellbeing.
You’re in a Global Classroom
With global programs like Nexford University, you are immersed in a diverse, multicultural environment with classmates from all around the world. These global classrooms allow learners to engage with people of various cultures and nationalities. Building these communication skills and experiences are highly valued in today’s globally competitive world. Learners get to interact and build a network with classmates across continents, opening up their worlds right from home.
Unlike a physical campus, online education doesn’t need to disrupt your life. It offers full-time options for those who desire a full immersion as well as part-time options for working professionals. Students have the flexibility to learn on the go and at their own convenience. With Nexford’s monthly tuition subscriptions, you decide how fast you want to finish your degree and you only pay for the periods you are active! The best part is that you’re not forced to go as slow or as fast as your classroom, or move to the dictation of a professor. With online education, there are no barriers or rigidities that come along with physical classrooms. Your cost, time, pace, and location are all in your hands.
Online learning offers a mix of learning resources and mixed media formats that traditional classrooms don’t offer. It forces you to rely on various types of tools and resources to research, assimilate information, and apply your understanding, similar to how it works in the ‘real world.’ With Competency Based Education (CBE) models, students dictate their own learning paths according to their proficiencies and their areas of interests. Students progress by proving mastery in certain topic areas and the real world application of these. This is a highly practical approach, as you get to build competencies you can immediately apply to your chosen career.
It prepares you for the real world
Prior to launching Nexford University, I participated in market-focused primary research with IPSOS where we interviewed HR leaders across top Nigerian employers. We found that 90% of employers surveyed believe Nigerian graduates are not adequately prepared for the workplace. Aside from the soft skills cited, the critical hard skill gaps included research skills, competencies with critical computer applications, writing skills, and data analytics. All of these are core components of online education, which enables learners become conversant with through their everyday application and as they progress on one course or the other. Completing a self-paced online degree also demonstrates discipline, tenacity, and time-management skills, which are highly valued in the workplace.
Online education is the only way we can provide high-quality education at the scale we require. According to UNESCO, the number of students in higher education globally will double to 262-million by 2025, fueled by India, China and Sub-Saharan Africa. The United Nations has also positioned Nigeria to be third largest population with 390m people by 2050 . With this spiking population, high-quality and scalable education is more important now than ever. Nigeria’s university system, which holds about 150 schools, is over-populated and can only cater to 40% of applicants annually as reported by University World News. The only way to meet this demand with the quality and scale required to unlock productivity and innovation is through tech-enabled, online education.
The Nexford difference
Being an AI-powered university built from scratch and based on the needs of employers, the only way we can be as responsive and accommodating to the needs of the workplace is by being 100% online. Nexford University’s mission is to enable greater social and economic mobility across the world by providing learners access to high-quality, affordable and dynamic education that prepares them for the global workplace. Our goal is to become the largest and most affordable American university in the world, with degrees starting at $80 / month. We provide students with a fully online global education based on mastery of competencies that are relevant in their varying workplace. We equip learners with the skills needed for lifelong learning and professional development.
About the writer
Olamidun is an MBA graduate and a former consultant for a top higher education consulting firm in New York. She serves as the Country Director for Nexford University and is a strong advocate for high-quality, accessible education.