This part of the guide will explain how online education benefits different groups of individuals and institutions, giving them access to education at all times and at various stages of their lives.

Chapter 8

There are many advantages to beginning an online educational program. For students, online learning means that there is no need to commute to a physical campus, find a parking spot and locate the classroom within a building. There is also no need to relocate to the city where the educational institute is located.

Students can attend classes from home over the Internet, with access to all of the resources and materials from anywhere and at any time. Online learning often allows students to learn at their own pace and to network with people from a wide geographic area. Learners can gain the knowledge of experts from the entire nation and from around the world.

Educational institutions also benefit from online educational programs. The online courses allow the institution to reach more students. They can try out and apply new technologies to an audience that is already comfortable with testing out new things.

Online learning is easy to manage for providing teacher training and for preparing tutors who will be working with online learners. Online learning can also easily accommodate students who have a physical limitation and find it difficult to navigate through a physical campus.

Increasing Digital Literacy

Digital literacy can be defined as having the ability to comprehend the meaning and workings of digital content and devices. The content might include blogs, blocks of texts and comments in discussion forums while the devices could be a desktop or laptop computer, tablet or smartphone.

Digital literacy can also be described as the capabilities that an individual has to fully participate in the digital world. A full or partial online education makes sure that a student's digital literacy increases so that they can function in a digital society.

It is also about being able to use technology in a way that allows an individual to participate in and contribute to modern society, culture, politics, and the economy. With digital literacy, a student should be able to use and express themselves through information and communications at a level of expertise that is suitable for the future workplace. They should be able to do so as a regular and active participant in the digital world. As comfort and literacy in the digital world increases, an online learner should be more productive at home and at work.

The learner will know how to stay safe while online and how to use technology to complement his or her lifestyle. A digitally literate learner is able to research, access resources, communicate and complete written assignments for an online course and for everyday life.

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These actions are useful across all phases of a person's adulthood, from finding a job and improving the chances at career advancement to reaching their full potential as a member of society. In practical daily life, government and public services such as a state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles increasingly require digital access in order to request or apply for services, licenses and access to information. These activities are closely related to digital scholarship in that they make use of digital evidence, methods of inquiry and research. They also put into practice publication and preservation of information in order to achieve scholarly and research goals.

How Schools Benefit from Online Education

A well-designed and executed online course provides an efficient, quality and resource-rich learning environment. In this type of a learning environment, students feel able to share their ideas, research, and knowledge with others in a safe and collaborative peer-to-peer setting. This learning experience creates the opportunity to develop an expanded network of peers, interact with experienced faculty and get to know field experts who are able to bring new information and fresh perspectives to the educational experience.

These opportunities come together to enhance the outcomes for both students and faculty. The educational institution itself is able to reach more students, apply new technologies and diversify its student body. When attendance is only periodical or not required on the physical campus, more students will be attracted to the school.

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This is especially true for students who live at remote locations. Time and money constraints could otherwise impede the ability of these students to engage in higher learning. The institution also saves money on a blended or online learning program, as there is no need to invest in costly dormitories, maintain large parking lots or create an on-campus transportation network.

Meeting the Needs of Online Instructors

Institutions must make the online learning and instructional activities attractive, accessible and valuable to the faculty. In order to meet the expectations of today's students and to serve those students well, educational institutions need to capture the benefits offered by new technology.

When the faculty has little or no knowledge of the technology that is required in order to teach and create lessons online, it may seem difficult and unacceptable for them to even try. Institutions can create incentives for faculty to develop their knowledge and skills in online learning environments.

Some of these staff incentives could include compensation as salary, research funds and time, such as a course buyout of material that will be perpetually relevant or need only minimal updates to be relevant in upcoming years. Educational institutions could also inspire faculty to experiment with course designs, develop new skills and give them a chance to re-imagine their courses with digital add-ons like videos, infographics or audio files.

Institutions could also consider delivering training and support to their faculty in order to lower the barriers needed for the development of new instructional approaches. Such incentives can also decrease the time and effort that is needed to adapt traditional educational approaches with those that utilize a greater amount of technology.

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Educational institutions can also focus on the more practical basics of online and blended educational programs. They can fund courses or even just a lecture to teach theoretical solutions online. Even if complex MOOCs are still considered to be too much for the institution, they could at minimum select one relatively easy course management system or learning management system and begin implementing it into their curricula.

Platforms such as Moodle can help with the organization of courses and provide resources to learners. These platforms also make it easy for students and instructors to communicate and submit assignments online. Some faculty members will wholeheartedly embrace these skills and then learn more on their own. Those educators can then teach others as a sort of peer-to-peer learning system within the administration of the educational institution itself.

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Materials that are distributed through a web platform make it easier for instructors and learners to interact during class time in blended learning programs, as there is no need to take notes during a lecture. Digital tests are quicker to grade and essays can easily be checked for grammatical errors and copyright infringements.

Online education also allows for the opportunity of increased teaching quality due to a better understanding of the subject matter. Lessons can be recorded and posted online ahead of time or according to a timed schedule. This allows the teacher to open their availability to online questions from students.

Online Learning for Students with Limitations

While an online education offers convenience to all students, it makes a considerable difference in the life of a student who has physical limitations such as impaired movement or loss of function in a limb. Through online learning, students with physical limitations can avoid any movement beyond their home.

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There is no need to try to find transportation for a wheelchair and any necessary electronic equipment. Students who engage in online learning would not have to hire a personal assistant which decreases the time and monetary costs of their education.

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