What is it? Online learning ranges from small modules used to supplement classroom learning to entire courses and programs of study resulting in credits, certificates, and degrees. Education and training programs that mix classroom or lab time with online learning are often called “hybrid” programs. Some online learning programs follow a specific schedule, like traditional academic courses; others allow students to progress through modules at their own pace.
Who provides it? College, community-based organizations and other education and training providers. Many colleges have started to offer their coursework online for free through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Why is it important? Online learning allows people to increase their knowledge and skills and earn credentials without traveling to a school, college campus, or other training facility. Online learning can be particularly useful for learners living in rural areas, working adults with busy schedules, parents with young children, and K–12 students after school or during school breaks. However, there is some evidence that it is not effective for underprepared populations.