April 20, 2020

4 benefits of online learning during COVID-19 for businesses and employees

InStride

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Online learning has become a significant enabler that continues to grow in value for both businesses and their employees. Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the shift to online education was in motion. The number of students taking online courses was growing five percent annually, according to a 2018 joint report by the Boston Consulting Group and Arizona State University. 

With the events of 2020, it is a fair assumption that this expansion will rise exponentially in the upcoming academic years, especially as businesses continue to see the positive impact and benefits of online learning on their workforce.

Online learning and workforce education 

For employers or employees who have never taken an online learning course, let’s start with some quick basics such as: What is online learning? Is the quality of education comparable to traditional, on-campus programs? And how successful are students in online courses

Often referred to as distance learning or online education, online learning allows students the flexibility to learn at their convenience and allows employers to support employee growth. While online learning has fewer in-person interactions, it encompasses many of the same benefits of on-campus options plus more, including high-quality education programs and a focus on student success.

77 percent of students say the quality of online education is better than or equal to on-campus options.  

While there are many benefits for students, online learning is also advantageous for employers who are looking to engage their employees, build a resilient workforce, promote diversity and inclusion, and grow their businesses. 

Below highlights how online education can deliver these four advantages and benefits.

Benefit of online learning #1: Online learning helps employees stay relevant in a fast-paced world

Employers and employees are facing one of the fastest workplace revolutions. Keeping individual and professional skills updated can be difficult in a fast-paced world, especially when balancing personal commitments, a part-time or full-time job and more. This is especially important as one third of employees say they aren’t getting what they need to contribute effectively in their rapidly evolving businesses

With online learning, employees are able to pursue education from the comfort of their home, during their lunch breaks and on their own schedule. Online learning gives employees the opportunities to learn new skills that are imperative and relevant for the workplace. 

Benefit of online learning #2: Online learning provides accessibility

Online learning’s flexibility also gives employees the opportunity to learn and grow, no matter their education level or professional goals. From pursuing a high school diploma or bachelor’s degree, to learning a new skill set, there are online learning programs for every employee. Also, online learning allows employees to engage in courses globally, without physical barriers. 

Additionally in the context of rising unemployment due to the COVID‑19 crisis, online learning could present a cost-effective solution that can reach a larger number of learners.

Benefit of online learning #3: Online learning helps employees develop soft skills 

Online classes utilize active learning practices, including video conferencing, instructional videos and interactive webinars. Students are able to engage with professors and other students, as well as collaborate on group projects virtually.

Through active learning and virtual collaboration, employees can develop soft skills for the professional world. As employers increasingly embrace remote working, it’s important for employees to have the communication skills and tech-savviness to navigate a virtual working world.  

Benefit of online learning #4: Online learning leads to employee success

47 percent of employees say their extra training and education helped them advance within their current company. Furthermore, lifelong learning helps employees feel more capable and well rounded, increasing their overall confidence in the workplace. 

Online learning also expands the reach of employees with 65 percent of students taking classes in the past 12 months reporting that their online program expanded their professional network. Through online learning, students are able to make global connections with professors, student cohorts and alumni members in the same industry.

Online learning is being adopted at a rapid rate for these valid four reasons and more. This trend is expected to grow amid a worldwide virtual learning movement as businesses continue to see the positive impact and benefits of online education on their workforce. Online learning gives employers the opportunity to upskill and reskill, as well as engage their workforce, leading to sustainable business growth. 

Interested in learning more?

A good first step is to choose trusted, top-tier academic partners with a demonstrated history of online learning success for working adults helps ensure strong outcomes for employees and impactful results for your business. As the premier global provider of strategic enterprise educationTM, InStride provides a network of universities globally, with proven track records for working adults. Contact us for more information.

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