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The following piece was written by Macmillan Learning Communications Intern Samra Karamustafic. Samra @samrak is a Journalism major at Cleveland State University and aspires to work as an editor in book publishing.
If you ask a group of students for their thoughts on online learning, you’d most likely get very mixed answers that fall along the “love it” or “hate it” spectrum. While some students may miss the face-to-face interaction with their professors and peers, other students might enjoy the flexibility of creating a schedule that works for them. With nearly 34% of colleges being primarily online this semester, this generation of college students is facing an experience like no other.
However, while it may be challenging at times, the pros of online learning can provide students with skills that can benefit them long after their college years and into their future careers. Some of these valuable benefits include:
1. Better time-management skills
With a world as fast-paced as ours, being able to manage your time effectively is an incredibly advantageous skill for anybody to have, especially for someone fresh out of college. Future employers want productive employees working for their company -- people who come in and use the time they have constructively to get as much work done as they can before they clock out.
With online learning, students can refine their time-management skills because they are in charge of planning their semester and keeping tabs on due dates and exam dates. As Northeastern University writes, because “students have the flexibility to create their own schedules, it’s up to the student to proactively ...” Any employer values an individual that can prioritize and use their time wisely.
2. A chance to hone your communication skills
Franklin University notes that with online learning, “you'll enhance your ability to communicate effectively through the latest technology.“ But how? Well, online learning requires students to strengthen their communication skills through all kinds of technology, like Zoom, Google Meet, discussion boards, and more. With minimal to no face-to-face interaction with instructors, it pushes students to reach out to their professors with any questions they may have through email and to answer promptly. As the job market continues to change and offer more remote-work opportunities, being able to communicate through different platforms and software is a relevant skill for anyone in any career field to have.
3. More opportunities to review course material
Imagine that you’re in class and your instructor is going through a lesson laden with information. You’re trying your best to scribble down as much information as possible, but as you’re looking back at your notes at the end of class, you realize that there is still so much you didn’t get a chance to jot down. What was once a common experience for many students in a traditional classroom setting is nearly nonexistent in the world of online learning.
With the flexibility of virtual learning, many professors are aware of the fact that college students have varying schedules and may not be able to make it to all of their classes. Thus, thanks to the recording feature on Zoom and other video chatting platforms, professors can record their lectures and post them online for students to catch up or review if needed. Not only does this allow students to review the material, but as Oxford Learning states, it allows students to “spend more time on areas that are challenging.”
Nobody likes staring at a screen for hours on end and solely using Zoom to communicate with peers and instructors. But, as with everything else that has altered drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students must adjust and make the most out of the situation as is. On the bright side, once the pandemic is over, students will return to normalcy with more newly acquired skills than when we started.