The recent global economic downturn forced thousands of working professionals to re-evaluate their career path, educational backgrounds, and economic future in a fiercely competitive job market. Many discovered that, in order to remain competitive, they would need to invest in their education. For adult learners competing in the workforce, online learning represents the best option for continuous learning and professional development.
Advances in educational technology have allowed universities worldwide to create dynamic online learning environments containing an engaging mix of streaming video lectures, podcasts, webcasts, interactive discussion boards, and multimedia activities. These new online courses emphasize flexibility and are adaptable to a variety of individual learning styles. Additionally, the new “anytime, anywhere” learning environment fostered by online education is ideal for working professionals balancing families, work responsibilities, and increasing economic demands. Students in online courses not comfortable expressing their views in a traditional classroom environment now have a voice in interactive discussion forums with increased direct access to instructors and subject matter experts.
Perhaps most importantly for students entering the workforce and adult learners looking to advance their career, online education provides valuable exposure to the types of interactive technology more frequently utilized by top global companies. Employers are in dire need of talented professionals who can thrive in an increasingly connected global economy. Online education can prove to be an invaluable training ground for collaboration and communication across borders and time zones.
Educational experiences utilizing computers, smart phones, and tablets will become more common in the years to come. Employers will soon come to expect familiarity with online education and diverse learning environments utilizing technology when evaluating candidates. Learners comfortable with these dynamic learning environments will have a distinct competitive advantage over their peers exposed only to traditional educational experiences.