Although online learning is nothing new, it is something that more students are aware of since the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, it was perhaps viewed as an option for parents wishing to gain additional qualifications, employed people wanting to earn a university degree or a way of learning a new skill. Typically, it was not something many students of school age had considered, but perhaps that is now starting to change.

As an established British day and boarding school in Hong Kong, we are continually talking to our pupils about ways to gain a broader education that could help them succeed in university or job interviews. Naturally, many of the ideas we suggest are covered by extracurricular activities. However, we are now witnessing more students follow online courses to gain additional knowledge and qualifications in areas that interest them. While we are always concerned about pupils becoming distracted, we also recognise the benefits of online learning. Here are just a few.

  1. Learn new skills

As a school, it is impossible to offer courses that cater to everyone’s tastes and interests. Some students may wish to learn skills outside of academia and extracurricular activities such as health and well-being courses or astronomy. Learning these new skills shows interviewers and potential employers that you can use your initiative and have outside interests. Many students find these courses interesting and relaxing as they are related to their hobbies.

  1. Develop professional skills

Another shift that we witnessed during the pandemic was a move towards freelancing and people offering their skills to others. It opens up a whole new world, and online learning is an effective way of developing professional skills. For instance, you could learn about producing and editing videos, counselling or accountancy. These areas can all be effectively taught online and give you a chance to earn some additional money or set up your own business in the future.

  1. Learn self-discipline and improve productivity

One of the main benefits of online learning is that it teaches individuals to be more self-disciplined as they will need to structure their learning and time management. Online learning is an effective way of learning this and is a skill that will be useful throughout your life. We have all heard that we should “work smarter, not harder”, and online learning is an excellent way of proving this. You will see that your productivity improves in many aspects of your life.

  1. Study at your own pace

Being able to study at your own pace is something many students benefit from. Everyone learns differently, with some preferring to study early in the morning or late at night, while others prefer to work quicker or slower than those around them. As online study material is available 24/7, it is possible to learn when and how you want, making it an effective way of learning that suits the individual rather than trying to cater for an entire class.

  1. Course materials are easily accessible

For almost all online courses, study materials are available as and when you need them. Sometimes you may need to pass a test or exam to give you access to the next stage, but you will always be able to refer back to content that you had used previously. It means that you don’t have to wait for school to open to get more materials or for a friend to return home before you can borrow their study notes.

  1. Builds self-confidence

As teachers, we have found that several students that participate in online learning have more self-confidence. Sometimes formal or informal study groups are formed, with people of different ages and backgrounds learning to discuss and present ideas helping boost self-esteem. For older students, sometimes teachers can be viewed as restrictive, and learning independently online removes any restrictions, making it more effective.

  1. Make new friends

Online learning is a way of making new friends with similar interests. You can share ideas over Zoom or Google Hangouts, perhaps even enjoy a virtual coffee break together! Once you have like-minded friends, it can make online learning more fun and, with it, more effective. Again, this can help build confidence, which will benefit other aspects of your study and your life. These are people you may work with in the future, developing professional and personal relationships.

  1. It’s often free!

Finally, many online studies are free, meaning that you can try your hand at something new without needing to worry about the cost. These may be structured courses run by colleges or other educational establishments, while some people may prefer to learn from the many educational videos that are available on YouTube. However, you wish to do your online learning; it is an effective way of improving your skillset and building sound foundations for your future.