By Olamidun Majekodunmi
Modern technological innovations have engendered disruptions in today’s world. The traditional methods and conventions are now being replaced by modern technological innovations in various facets of our lives today; thanks to these innovations which have indeed bridged several gaps. The limitation of time and space is no longer a mitigating factor that affects our communication, socialization, and career Why then should it restrict how we learn?
The advent of online universities two decades ago was not well received; it was portrayed and stereotyped as inferior to conventional universities because of questions that border on its questionable academic standards.
Some online academic programs offer little or nothing in terms of knowledge. They churn out poorly written series of PDFs that are devoid of substance. No wonder, some online ivory towers struggle and eventually collapse; this has dealt a heavy blow on the general perception of online universities.
One of the demerits of online universities lies in its inability to offer full campus life experience, they’re often seen as a trade–off for the convenience, flexibility, and affordability that learners enjoy, unlike the traditional universities.
While online education may not be the most suitable option for everyone, the disruption it is having on the industry can no longer be ignored. There are several factors that make online education the most sustainable means to offer students the ability to design their own learning experience and meet the needs of the global community in terms of scalable, continuous learning that empowers the society.
Using the United States of America as a case study, more than 6.3 million students in the country were enrolled in at least one online course- signaling an almost 6 percent increase from the preceding year (US News and World Report). About 30 percent of higher education students are enrolled in at least one online course (Babson Survey Research Group). These are continuing growth trends that have been consistent for 16 years.
There is absolutely no doubt that as it has been for the health, communication, 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 the faculty and course advisors through various venues and in a more relaxed setting(s). Being able to live-chat and send e–mails 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 well–being.
You’re in a Global Classroom
With global programs like the ones being offered by 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 the world right from their homes.
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 interest. 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 Human Resources leaders across top Nigerian employers. We found that 90 percent 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 enable learners to become conversant to 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 quality education at the scale we require. According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation NESCO, 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 a third-largest population with 390 million 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 overpopulated and can only cater to 40 percent 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 percent 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 holds a Master of Business Administration degree. She is a former Higher Education consultant for a top consulting firm in New York. She is now serving as the Country Director for Nexford University and is a strong advocate for qualitative and, accessible education. She is a serial entrepreneur, founder of Performing Arts School of Nigeria and the Sooyah Bistro restaurant chain. She is a member of several African education commissions and thinks tanks where she continues to push the envelopes on education intervention.