According to a recent U.S. News trend report, many older students find online education liberating. We couldn’t agree more (and it’s not limited to the United States)! Online learning offers a multitude of benefits for the adult learner, regardless of their motivation.
Discover the benefits of an online education, whether you’re looking to uplevel your existing career with new knowledge; need to earn continuing education credits to maintain a certification or licensure; have a desire to change career paths entirely; or are simply in pursuit of lifelong learning!
Advantages of Online Learning
1. Flexibility in where and how you learn
One of the more obvious benefits of taking courses online is that you can be anywhere in the world, so long as you have an Internet connection! Some programs even let you download content offline so you can study without being on the Internet. Whether you’re taking a planned vacation or something unexpected comes up that requires you to be away from home, you can keep up with your classes.
Many online learning programs offer the ability to access your materials from both a web application (on your desktop) and an app on a mobile device, like your phone or tablet. This increased accessibility makes it even easier for you to decide how you’ll learn, especially if you don’t need to be logged on at a certain time of day to participate in your education.
Depending on the program, you may be able to listen to lectures, podcast-style, while out for a walk or watch them at home, with closed captioning on; print out PDFs to read over your morning coffee or download them to your phone to read on your commute; and engage with interactive elements, such as discussion boards or special curriculum features, to further enhance your understanding of important topics.
2. Increased employability in your chosen career field
Many adult learners pursue online education to advance their proficiency in their existing career, especially professionals in the health and wellness field. This could be nondegree certificate programs, to earn additional credentials that support your current work, or shorter courses that focus on niche topics and allow you to specialize in a specific area.
The ever-changing landscape of wellness necessitates that everyone from doctors to Health Coaches be up to date on current research, methodologies, and even technology, to support their patients and clients. This dedication to your practice and field of work will go a long way in growing your career over time.
3. Ability to retain employment
For adults who work part- or full-time, quitting their jobs to go back to school may not be an option. That makes online learning the perfect solution, especially when looking to switch careers. While taking up time outside of working hours might not sound ideal, it’s likely much less stressful than having to manage any potential financial hardship that would come with not working at all. Plus many online programs are asynchronous ‒ meaning that you can set your own pace.
4. A customized schedule and pace (for asynchronous learning)
Asynchronous learning refers to a course or program that doesn’t require students to be present on certain days and times; they can simply move through the curriculum content at their own pace. These programs often require students to complete their work within a certain time frame, such as six or 12 months, and may even include deadlines for graduation requirements. For adult learners, this can be incredibly helpful, as they can weave learning into the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
5. Fewer costs than those associated with traditional education
In-person learning comes with many costs in addition to the cost of your degree or certification, like textbooks, housing, meal plans, or transportation. While nowadays the cost of textbooks might be absorbed into the full cost of an online course or program because content will be available digitally, the other costs associated with “traditional” learning do not apply.
When considering how much you want to spend on an online education, consider the reduced “time costs” ‒ the time you’ll save by not having to be there in person, like eliminating the commute to a physical classroom. If you're looking to make your learning experience as convenient and seamless as possible, this can be a major factor in deciding to pursue online learning.
6. Refined technology skills for an increasingly digital world
Going digital isn’t just eco-friendly—it’s become a necessity for the current workforce. From recruiting and hiring to executing your job responsibilities, everything has shifted online. You may not think that your experience engaging with an online learning platform matters much but think again: You’re enhancing your understanding of technology by becoming familiar and comfortable with these new platforms, and at the same time, you’re facilitating your expertise of the program content.
This is a win-win situation for the adult learner, who may not have started their career utilizing much technology. By learning how to engage with content and people more efficiently online, you’ll be able to pursue even more personal and professional opportunities!
7. Opportunities to pursue your passion ‒ and even improve your well-being
Online learning has opened many doors for adult learners who may not have ever considered pursuing an education in a field of interest, whether as just a hobby or as a totally new career. From free short courses to longer certificate programs, anyone ‒ regardless of age, budget, or location ‒ can learn something new in their pursuit of knowledge, health, and happiness.
Lifelong learning is also beneficial for your health, positively affecting memory, reducing the risk of dementia, and stimulating creativity and joy for improved emotional well-being.
The Bottom Line
There are many factors that will affect your decision to enroll in an online learning program, such as your budget, the length of the program, the subject matter, and the resources offered. With the abundance of online learning opportunities now available, there’s no doubt that you’ll find the right one for you! Explore more of what IIN has to offer adult learners, with the Health Coach Training Program as well as Advanced and Specialty Courses for you to specialize in niche wellness areas.