You understand the value of online education, you know it will help your academics and future career, and you have even found the perfect online course to help you reach your goals. Now you just need to convince your parents that it’s worth the investment of your time and (their) money.

Lucky for you, we have this article dedicated to helping you explain online education to your mom (or dad, or auntie, or uncle) and why it’s a valuable and valid education option.

Industries are changing fast, and traditional classrooms are changing with them. With 66% of university graduates feeling unprepared for their first job, online education helps bridge the skill gap, with 82% of learners who take online courses receiving career advancement opportunities.

Defining Online Education

You might have a vague idea of what online education is and can explain the basics, but let’s break down and define what online education is exactly and discuss some different categories of online education.
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There are many ways to deliver online education, and we are going to discuss some of the main categories of online learning methods. 

Synchronousall learners are participating in real time, most closely resembling a traditional classroom method but with students located remotely. Common tools for this type of online learning are web conferencing (like Skype), internet radio and live chats.  

Asynchronouslearners can access the materials at any time, and do not need to be “present” for a live session. This type of online learning includes pre-recorded audio or video, discussion forums and email. 

The two methods can be combined with some live portions of a course and some that the student completes in their own time. For example, some university courses combine pre-recorded lectures (asynchronous) and mandatory live virtual labs (synchronous). 

Online education can also be classified depending on the schedule you need to follow.  Paced online learning is when there are specific deadlines a student must meet. Self-paced online learning means that the student is free to do the course work whenever it fits their schedule and there are no fixed due dates. 

Online education can be further split into these 4 broad categories. 

  1. MOOCMassive Open Online Courses are courses that have no restrictions on who can participate (no pre-requisites) and how many learners who can participate.  
  2. SPOCSmall Private Online Courses are courses that have a limited number of learners. 
  3. SMOCSynchronous Massive Online Courses are courses that requires the learner to participate live, but an unlimited number of learners can participate. 
  4. SSOCSynchronous Private Online Courses are courses that have a limited number of spaces and require live participation. 
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Some learners may enjoy synchronous courses because it keeps them accountable to a specific schedule and some learners may work better with a more flexible schedule.  

The levels of accreditation can vary depending in the type of course you choose and the institution offering it. If you want to make sure your degree or certificate is recognized by educational institutions and employers, make sure to check that the institution offering your degree is accredited by an official body or organization like the National Assessment and Accreditation Council.  

Benefits Of Online Education 

  • Cost-effectiveMost online education will cost less than an equivalent in-person course. This American study shows that an on-campus undergraduate degree can be over 100% more expensive than the same online option. Your parents want to invest in quality education, not cheap education, but with universities like Harvard offering full online degrees, why not get the same quality for less? 
  • FlexibilityWith asynchronous courses, learning can fit into any schedule. Even with synchronous courses, there is no travel time involved so the course can be taken from anywhere with an internet connection. Your parents might worry about you not having a designated place to learn. Let them know you can learn from anywhere with an internet connection. You will have more time to dedicate to your learning overall. 
  • Access to expertsNearly 50% of higher education institutions offer some type of online education. With geographic and temporal barriers removed, learners can find educational content from some of the premiere experts in any given field. Tell your mom that with online learning, you can study learning from the foremost expert in your field, even if they are located in a different country or on a different continent. 
  • Increased interactionStudies have shown that web-based tools help increase communication and interaction between learners and instructors, and among fellow learners as well. Discussion boards, chats and email all add more opportunities for interaction, which leads to greater engagement. While your parents might think that there is less meaningful interaction because it’s not face-to-face, students feel more comfortable asking more questions online than in person. The result is a deeper understanding of the subject matter, and more collaboration with other learners. 
  • Encourages lifelong learningAll segments of the population can benefit from online education since there is so much diversity in available courses. There is educational content for everyone from preschool children and secondary students to corporate learners and personal interest students. Demonstrate to your parents that this is just the first online course along your lifelong learning path through your commitment to the course and share your plans for future learning to show that you’re serious about education. 
  • EffectiveMeta-analysis of several studies have shown that online education is at least as effective and often even more effective than traditional classroom learning. In this digital age, online learning can be tailored and customised to your individual needs better than a traditional classroom ever could. Show your parents the value of online education by demonstrating how your course can be personalised to your needs. 

Potential Issues Your Parents Might Raise

  • Motivation: Online courses require a high level of motivation and self-discipline. There is no one to hold you accountable except yourself, and the dropout rates for online courses are higher than for in-person courses. Your parents might be concerned that you won’t follow through, so make sure you demonstrate personal responsibility to convince them.
  • Time management: Related to motivation, some students may struggle to make the time for an online course. Especially with asynchronous courses, if you can do your course work at any time, it can be easy to continue putting it off when there are so many domestic distractions. If your parents see you procrastinating with homework already, they aren’t going to believe that you are going to take an online course more seriously. Be proactive with your current commitments to demonstrate your time management skills.
  • Technology issues: Online learning requires a basic knowledge of computers as well as reliable devices and internet connections. A problem with your technology could inhibit your learning. If your parents are concerned that you won’t be able to access your course reliably, come up with an alternate plan like going to the library to use a computer or show them that you have basic technology skills.

How To Explain Online Education To Your Parents Checklist

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Before presenting your request, check the following items:

  • Map your career with a learning path based on your chosen career and identify the courses you will need to reach your goal and why you need them. Ex. You may get practical experience at school, but you would benefit from an additional online theory course to deepen your understanding.
  • Research online courses and choose the right one(s) for you.
  • Identify the key features and benefits of your online course over a classroom version using the “Benefits” list above.
  • Identify the issues your parents might have with the course from the “Potential Issues” list above and develop your counterarguments.
  • Prepare a presentation. This can be as formal or informal as you like, and make sure to include your career map to show that you have a specific goal you are working towards. You can even make a PowerPoint to really impress your parents.
  • Schedule a time with your parents to get their attention and let them know you’re serious.
  • Present your course and benefits, leaving plenty of time to answer all their questions and concerns. Try to be as professional as possible and don’t expect an answer right away.

Hopefully by now you’ve read something you can use in your discussion to persuade your parents to invest in your education online. They might resist, but if you demonstrate commitment to your education and a genuine belief that an online course if right for you it should go a long way in changing their mind. Good luck!