April 17, 2024

Online Learning: Pursuing a Lifelong Passion in the Digital Age

Pursuing a Lifelong Passion in the Digital Age

The digital age has led to a wide variety of innovative solutions, including the way students can learn new skills that will help them start their careers. Traditional methods would often pose an issue due to distance and time constraints. Yet, the advent of online education has broken down the barriers and has allowed people to attend classes and obtain a degree without ever having to set foot in a physical classroom.

Even better, those who intend to acquire a higher education later in life will benefit from online courses. This guide will discuss how digital platforms will open the door to opportunities designed for people looking to make a better life for themselves. If a higher education affords them a second chance, then online classes are a great path to fulfilling that chance.

Deciding on a program that aligns with passions and aspirations

Online education programs offered by various colleges and universities feature a large catalog of major programs – from associate’s to doctorate. A person can choose which type of degree will be fitting for their intended career.

For example, if sports is their passion and they love telling stories, they might consider a Sports Journalism Master’s degree. Programs such as the Master of Arts in Sports Journalism offered by St. Bonaventure University provide them with coursework that will allow them to get the hands-on experience they need to cover sporting events and tell stories and highlights of the game to fans. They will be right at the center of the action from the first play to the last.

They’ll learn about sports interviews and how to conduct them. In addition, they’ll learn about journalism ethics and how to navigate the obstacles and challenges of sports reporting. Regarding sports journalism, they may find themselves in the middle of the most exciting sporting events in history.

If a person has ever dreamed about calling plays for their favorite pro sports team, or if their lifelong goal is to report the history-making highlights of a world championship game such as the Super Bowl or the World Series – a quality education can help get them there.

If someone wants to work in a dream career where they can carve their path, it takes the right kind of education through the best online program available. Seekers should look around and see which colleges and universities have the best programs for their desired educational path and career.

Lifelong learning is no longer a buzzword    

After graduating from high school, college, or another type of higher educational institution, people continue as students in life. In fact, people remain lifelong learners, and life itself becomes educational through learning valuable lessons about themselves, others, and so much more.

While people do not obtain degrees in life, they are rewarded in so many other ways. Whether it is the love and appreciation from their families, or the gratitude from people they have crossed paths with.. As lifelong learners, it is never too late to learn something new.

Someone could be in their 40s and learn something they have never known how to do before. Or someone could be 65 and defy age itself by improving at a skill they have long struggled with. Limiting beliefs exist in people’s heads and can be removed.

If someone has started a new career, they will learn new things outside of the routine tasks they do. It will mold them into becoming something better. Each day may bring them a new opportunity to try something different and gain a learning experience.

This person will be telling success stories about how they achieved something they never thought was possible. When asked about their greatest accomplishments, they can boast about them without hesitation – because they, too, are like many, lifelong learners.

The importance of skill acquisition and development

The job market has plenty of opportunities for the right person with the necessary skills. Those who do not possess the right skills may miss out. However, acquiring said skills is no longer unattainable with the power of online learning.

Even today, learning a new skill at a later age is nothing new. Nor is it anything to be ashamed about. It is important to be serious about acquiring a skill that will serve well in a desired job or career.

People can take a certification course on a skill they are interested in developing. It can be enough to get an entry-level job from an employer looking for someone who knows how to get the work done with said required skill. Online course platforms like Coursea, and others, are also looking to benefit from those interested in learning new skills, be it for career or personal development.

Remote learning has existed for a long time, and it exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The demand for learning new skills at a low cost was met by online platforms offering a wide variety of courses. By 2030, the online course industry is expected to gain more revenue than in years past. 

Features that cater to adult learners

Whether hosted by a college, university, or an online course platform, the features and the frameworks may be similar to one another.

Flexibility

One of the hallmark features of online learning is the flexibility and self-paced style of taking classes. Whether a person has a busy work schedule Monday through Friday or assumes the role of a stay-at-home parent, they can benefit from being able to take courses at any time. They can work on the assignments and participate in class discussions while keeping their usual schedule.

Community building

Since there are several people in the same class, there is an opportunity to connect with fellow peers. This allows for the opportunity to get to know one another while sharing insights and receiving support. Students will also be able to build a network of like-minded individuals. Within a community like the virtual classroom, students feel a sense of belonging. Even though they may be in a physical room by themselves, interacting with others virtually reduces the feeling of being isolated.

User-friendly interfaces

In the digital age, one thing that is appreciated most is using technology that is easy to navigate. User-friendliness allows the chance to access online learning platforms without worrying about technological proficiency levels. Students can easily navigate through the site where the course is hosted and  can enjoy a positive learning experience.

The application process

With online courses, students can learn the skills necessary for the career they want to thrive in. Or it can just be a simple skill that enriches their life. Either way, educational platforms emphasize hands-on experience and real-world application.

Common challenges of digital learning (and how to overcome them)

While there are advantages to learning in a digital environment, there are also challenges. The good news is that they can be overcome.

Time management issues

Regarding digital learning, the benefit of flexibility is perhaps one of the greatest benefits. However, poor time management can hinder learning opportunities. For this reason, it is important to implement a study schedule that is considered realistic.

This can be accomplished by breaking down big goals into smaller, manageable ones. Doing this will ensure the ability to feel less overwhelmed by the coursework while students work at their own pace.

Utilizing a time of the day when  students are most productive ensures  a successful chance to dive into the coursework for that day and participate in discussions.

Technological literacy

For many adult learners, technology can be intimidating. The good news is that many educational platforms are designed to be user-friendly, making it easier for new students to familiarize themselves without having to spend too much time figuring everything out. They will have access to all kinds of digital tools that will be simple to learn while having the ability to seek assistance should the need arise.

Isolation

As mentioned, students may feel isolated because they are in a physical space that is not a classroom. However, they can engage with their peers and instructors, and this will remove the barrier of feeling isolated, so they do not feel lonely.

Peers and instructors are humans on the other side of the screen. They are not talking to robots. Therefore, the interactions will be more genuine. It will be as if the students are in the classroom itself.

Course platforms can implement the use of tools like Zoom. With video conferencing growing in popularity, it will also take communication beyond the standard discussion boards. This allows students to feel like they are right in the middle of a round-table discussion.

Lack of guidance

It is important to be part of a program where students can regularly interact with instructors should they have any questions or concerns. Having mentors or instructors will give students a chance to get the insights they need while learning the necessary skills for their newfound career or purpose in life.

Lifelong learning and personal growth: an unbreakable connection

While career development is typically the main reason for learning new skills via educational courses, enriched personal growth is another benefit. Lifelong learning and personal growth can go hand-in-hand and create an unbreakable bond.

Lifelong learning enriches personal life

If someone is a lifelong learner, they give themselves the ability to enrich their personal life for the better. They will understand their new skills and disciplines while being able to connect with like-minded individuals. Having this social connection and intellectual stimulation will be beneficial to their personal growth.

When students learn something new, they transform into an improved version of themselves. They go from “not knowing” to “knowing” something. The cycle repeats itself with every new skill that they learn.

Developing a growth mindset

Lifelong learning opens the door to creating and maintaining a growth mindset. Students can embrace it knowing that they can learn something new. It also gives them the  willingness to succeed and experience setbacks on the journey toward bettering themselves.

They will know how to approach new challenges, reframe failures as learning experiences, and know that while there may be obstacles, they have what it takes to navigate them. In addition, they will begin to view things differently.

For example, they will find that asking for help is part of the process. They will see failure not as the end of the world but as something that will embolden them to do better. There are all kinds of benefits to a growth mindset that will help keep them progressing in their journey as a newer version of themselves, and even as a lifelong learner.

Hobbies and interests grow

As a lifelong learner, students notice that their list of hobbies and interests will expand over time. This can be due to a willingness to learn one skill after another. The important thing to remember is to not get overwhelmed. At the same time, students should know that they don’t have to master everything.

If one desires to be a master at something, they should do it with one skill. Anything else, it is acceptable to just be good enough at it. The figure of speech, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” is widespread for a reason. Another thing to remember is that a growing list of interests and hobbies will help broaden opportunities to connect with like-minded people.

This also includes sharing ideas, strategies, tips, and tricks. Students and their fellow enthusiasts will help each other grow and provide value. At the end of the day, it is one lifelong learner helping the other.

The future of lifelong learning

Lifelong learning may experience changes in the future. There could be trends emerging thanks to the advancement of such technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and even personalized learning experiences.

The implementation of VR in education

Virtual reality (VR) technology is nothing new. However, it can be instrumental in the educational field. Imagine taking a field trip somewhere in another part of the world or even another time. Students will be able to experience an educational lesson as if they were immersed in the action themselves.

This will pertain to various disciplines, such as the medical field, where VR will allow students to study human anatomy models. They’ll be afforded something akin to a hands-on experience like no other.

Enhanced personalized experiences

Aside from VR, artificial intelligence (AI) also makes its presence known in online learning platforms. One of the best ways it is being implemented is by putting together a personalized curriculum based on various factors such as progress, areas of difficulty, user behaviors, and others. It will also suggest courses based on skills of interest, the level of said skills, and preferred learning pace, among others.

This will help make the learning process more effective while catering to learning styles and preferences. Not everyone will be created equal regarding their own learning experience, but AI will make creating tailor-made educational experiences possible.

Lifelong learning becomes more mainstream

Some still believe that lifelong learning (or the concept of it) is not as mainstream. For this reason, once the benefits have become more prominent, more people will see it as a part of life rather than some kind of “fad.” Continuous learning will become a normal thing, especially in environments where employers can train new and existing employees to help them become better in their respective roles.

Whether it is a refresher course or a learning opportunity due to a policy change, lifelong and even continuous learning will find its footing to a point where it is a standard operating procedure in most cases.

It is never too late to learn something new

There is no shame in learning something new later in life. Even if it means going back to school to obtain a higher education, beyond that, learners can also learn new skills for career or personal enrichment.

Learners have the power to create their opportunities by finding a program that will best suit their passions and desires. Doing something they love is what every person strives for, no matter the field or skill they are drawn to. Let this guide serve as a helpful aid in pursuing a newly discovered learning journey.