Online learning has become a new norm. A new format of education can open doors for students and create opportunities of accessibility in incredible new ways. However, understanding the delicate balances and unique circumstances of online and distance learning is key to being successful.
Let’s explore the common challenges to distance learning, the unique features of NuPaths approach to online learning, and the variety of programs offered in the digital format.
Consider Online Learning
- No travel
- Fits your life--choose when and where
- Connect with instructors and fellow students through a number of different ways (scheduled live sessions, email, phone, discussion forums, text or chat)
- Hands-on learning
- Online learning tends to depend less on instructor lectures and more on hands-on activities through digital tools like video, simulations, online collaboration with other students, and other strategies for actively participating in the course.
- Learn the way that works for you
- You can watch recordings of live sessions with the instructor
- You can schedule your time to work on weekly assignments around your schedule
- You can revisit online materials as many times as you’d like to meet your learning and study needs
- Gain Technical Skills
- You’ll gain technical skills that will benefit you in your career
- Knowledge of computer terminology, such as hardware, software, browser, operating system, application, document types, etc.
- Internet skills and ability to use online communication tools
Common Challenges to Online Learning
It’s no secret that even before COVID-19 shifted the learning landscape, digital learning was becoming the new norm. It was clear both then and now, however, that there are a set of challenges that come along with this new learning format. It’s natural that potential online students should consider whether online learning is right for them..
Among the most common challenges are:
- Digital literacy - Having the skills necessary to complete work online is critical to being successful in online learning. Much of the school work relies on at least a moderate understanding of word processor systems, digital forums, and a few more teaching tools.
- Technical issues - Learning online means being prepared for technical challenges. Last-minute Internet outages or a glitch in a program can be a major headache. The patience and general knowledge to troubleshoot and problem solve around these issues is essential to the online learning space.
Some challenges to online learning don’t take the form of concrete ideas. In fact, many of the biggest challenges are more abstract and personal. For example, one of the most common challenges to online learning is motivation and persistence. Working independently requires you to be your own biggest hype man. While instructors are available, staying motivated to complete your work or attend online sessions can be difficult for many students.
Additionally, here’s a few other abstract challenges that many online students may face:
- Time management - Staying organized and on top of assignments can be difficult when you’re setting your own agenda every day. Having solid time management skills and tools is key to success.
- Accountability - Like motivation and assistance, accountability becomes even more important when you take learning to the online format. When learning online, students become accountable primarily to themselves rather than to instructors hovering over you in the classroom.
- Confidence - It can be challenging to feel validated while pursuing an online education. Without the in-person presence of peers and instructors, it may take students a little longer to build up their confidence.
- Loneliness - Overall, online education is inherently solitary. While fostering an online community can ease this challenge, it doesn’t negate it entirely.
Working Around the Challenges with NuPaths
NuPaths knows that online education needs to be carefully planned for it to be a good distance learning experience for you..
Here are a few of the ways we are committed to easing the challenges in online learning:
Time Management: You’ll learn about time management and other study skills during a guided student orientation. Planned weekly assignments and pacing allow you to plan a weekly schedule that will keep you on pace and on track.
Accountability: There’s a weekly schedule of assignments with some due before the first instructor led session and others due at the end of the week. The weekly schedule and instructor feedback support your individual accountability.
Loneliness: You’ll have live online sessions with the instructor and other students for 90 minutes, 3 times a week. You’re also able to connect with other students as you collaborate on activities and projects in the live online sessions. You’ll develop an online community of classmates who can support you during your studies as well as become part of your professional network after you graduate.
Confidence and hands-on learning: You’ll gain confidence in your skills as you complete a variety of hands-on exercises, including some of the following:
- PC Simulator: Simulations are a great way to fully immerse yourself into the online format and ensure that you are still learning critical technical skills, despite the difference in learning format. With the PC Simulator, every NuPaths student now has a chance to experiment with a large selection of parts to build a virtual PC. In career mode, students learn to diagnose, repair, and build PCs all through the simulator’s GamePlay.
- Hardware Shipped to Students: Distance learning students in the Technical Support Specialist and Network Technician programs have hardware shipped straight to their home. This is critical for hands-on hardware work as students learn to disassemble and reassemble their PCs. A hands-on approach in this case is necessary to the core of learning, so NuPaths has made it possible and accessible for students to work directly with the materials that they need.
- Cisco Packet Tracer: Another simulation tool NuPaths uses is Packet Tracer! Students can practice building networks across a variety of devices. This is critical for students in the Network Technician Program. In fact, one student even created a home network that powered everything with windmills… including a networked coffee maker. With a simulator, the options to experiment and learn are endless.
NuPaths Distance Learning Programs
One thing is certain: online learning has both pros and cons. However, we are committed to making the experience high quality and seamless for students. Right now, we are offering a variety of programs in the distance learning format.
- Technical Support Specialist
- Network Technician
- IT Security Analyst (SOC Analyst)
- Digital Marketing Assistant
- Associate Website Developer
Be sure to weigh your options and decide what is best for you.