15 Ways Online Education Advances Learning


Why should colleges and universities prioritize online education? Together we could probably think of many reasons.

A partial list might include:

  • Responding to student demand for flexibility
  • Improving accessibility to education
  • Meet workforce development needs
  • Organizational capacity building for institutional pedagogical resilience
  • Improve institutional financial sustainability by creating new revenue streams
  • Increase corporate brand awareness

What else would you add to this list?

Of all the reasons a school might consider investing in online education, I would put learning first on the list.

Here are 15 ways online education acts as a vehicle to advance learning for students, faculty, and institutions.


  1. Learning to learn in digital environments. (Which is how lifelong professional learning will happen.)
  2. Develop skills in time management and independent work.
  3. Collaboration and communication skills, especially on digital platforms. (Again, aligning with the future of work.)
  4. Make the transition from passive consumers of learning to active participants in building their knowledge.
  5. Improve a range of analytical skills that are prioritized in online courses and match the demands of professional employment.


  1. Opportunities to collaborate with learning designers in the course design process.
  2. Exposure to fundamentals of instructional design and science learning in the course development and delivery process.
  3. Experience working with a team of educators in course development and the teaching process.
  4. Move from a model of teaching as the transmission of information to one that prioritizes ongoing coaching, presence, and feedback.
  5. Shift from summative to formative assessment as high-stakes exams are complemented by frequent low-stakes quizzes designed for learning.


  1. Create a robust infrastructure for digitally mediated teaching and learning – essential for academic continuity, regardless of the next black swan disruption (extreme weather, pandemic).
  2. Prioritize student care and well-being, as online learning can enable institutions to overcome a mindset of scarcity around academic success.
  3. Increased ability to collect and act on student achievement data to support student achievement (learning analytics).
  4. New capabilities to move student life and support services from physical-only digital platforms and services to complementary services.
  5. Opportunities to support faculty in disciplined experiences to evolve teaching methods to align with science learning (learning innovation).

What would you add to this list of how online education advances learning?

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