It is predicted that eLearning will become a global phenomenon by the end of the decade, with new trends like microlearning, social learning, distance learning, gamification and mobile learning shifting the way the world of education looks at online learning. With distance learning, students can undertake a course of overseas study through online courses while they are still at their home colleges or universities. They gain the advantages of keeping a closer connection to their home school, while at the same time engaging in online classes with other students studying abroad across different locations.
The advantages of such online learning are lower costs, and globally relevant curriculums. Online courses are also well structured and comprehensive and afford the flexibility of studying at your own pace and in your own time. Students can plan their own study schedules, and keep a more consistent and predictable course of study. Some students may not be comfortable studying online, however, as they prefer the direct interaction that face-to-face classrooms afford. Such students would prefer to study on campus at schools overseas.
There are also some online study abroad programs that allow students the opportunity to travel to places that are not mainstream choices, and are less frequented by overseas study students. They can choose to opt for education that is more in line with their own interests, talent and career preferences.
Courses undertaken prior to travel
There are many online courses that are designed to be undertaken by students prior to their travel to host countries. These short term courses prepare students for overseas travel, and give them an introduction to their host country, its customs, currencies, culture and the kind of language they may be expected to use, among other things. They can also interact with other students who will be undertaking study in their host country, allowing them to make friends before they even step foot abroad. Such pre-travel courses may be very generic, if they are offered to students travelling to multiple countries; or could be specialized and focused if they are offered to students travelling to one country.
Courses undertaken during period of education abroad
Students who are studying abroad may be required to undertake online courses during the period of their study, in a bid to complement their main course and allow for greater understanding of the subject. Such courses may cover general subjects or may be specific to their sector of study. Students may also undertake hybrid or blended courses where they undertake theory courses online and take practical hands-on training or skills training sessions through a host college or university.
Courses undertaken after travel
After completing their main course of study abroad and returning to their home country, some students may choose to undertake post-travel online courses that can help them to update their knowledge in line with advancements in their field of study. They can also up-skill or re-skill themselves through online education. Online forums allow them to engage with other students or practitioners in their profession, share experiences and swap stories and understand their field in a broader and more comprehensive manner, with global perspectives and knowledge.