In past, online learning programs suffered high dropout rates and poor satisfaction of students because of the tedium of endlessly sitting alone at a computer working through exercises without social stimulation. But with the advent of inexpensive, robust and feature rich Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and video conferencing software that situation is very rapidly changing.
More and more frequently, institutions are brining an animated, personal element to their electronic learning programs through the use of voice to voice communication of electronic video conferencing. With the continuing growth of faster, less expensive video-conferencing hardware and software and the rapid expansion of broadband access has made video conferencing for educational purposes more accessible than ever before.
The equipment requirements of online learning and video conferencing continue to drop, giving the flexibility of using a $30 web camera or the most expensive networked video camera that a user cares to purchase. This technology is now being utilized by many other sectors, but its broad applicability in the online learning field is very clear.
Giving the ability to co-operate in new and unique ways, through new concepts such as ?Wiki?s? which allow users with correct access to edit and re-edit information on a subject, as well as virtual whiteboards on which many users can work at once, technology is providing online learners with engagement and co-operative learning advantages not even presently available to institutional students.
Because of the new methods of collaboration offered by distributed internet technology, video conferencing, ?Wiki?s?, and other advancements, some believe that online learning is becoming more relevant than institutional coursework for many kinds of graduate and post graduate studies. Time-crunched business people trying to juggle family, career and learning are increasingly making use of online MBA programs as well as online language courses as a way to simultaneously hone their technology skills and to accomplish more in the small windows of time that they have available for study.
Many students of online learning institutions are interested in pursuing education while maintaining a career, family, or both. Because of these technological advances, electronic learning is coming to be regarded as highly as institutional education despite early resistance from traditional bricks-and-mortar educational institutions. As technology continues to advance, the lines between online and offline worlds continue to blur, with full-time institutionally enrolled students taking electronic courses over the summer or in addition to their regular courseloads as a way of fast-tracking through a degree program. Online learning is definitely the wave of the future, and as technology advances it becomes more accessible and more enjoyable for potential students the world over.