Free Education - Yes, Free!

I recently completed several online module sessions to receive a certificate in Distance Education Learning. It was an interesting course and really clarified the difference of teaching and learning in a "resident environment"—meaning face to face in a physical classroom—versus in an "online environment," conducting interaction through technology.

Distance education is not as simple as taking a lesson plan taught in a standard resident classroom and making it available online. Online education takes work to ensure full engagement, comprehension, clarity, and effectiveness both for the educator and the learner.

The benefits of distance learning and education can be far reaching (pun intended).

In many discussions I had regarding resident versus online learning, many people have stated they have to be in the classroom. I found some similarity to the discussions on working remotely versus working in the office. Or the discussions on face-to-face meetings versus webcast/virtual meetings.

My undergraduate work was conducted in a resident environment on a campus. My master's degree work was conducted through a virtual environment. I have experienced and seen both sides of this discussion and as a self-proclaimed authority on the differences, can I easily say one is better than the other?

Yes...at times and no...at times.

It truly comes down to basic need as well as goals and objectives. Undergraduate work in a resident environment not only taught me book knowledge, but also provided me societal, interactive and growth learning through face-to-face interactions.  

The online environment filled a need of achieving a degree while working full-time as a corporate planner. In order to complete my degree at an efficient pace, the online environment was the best option for me, as I could not physically be on the campus for several reasons including the main fact the school offering the degree was in another state. In addition my technology knowledge-base increased exponentially through the "learn while using/doing" mentality.

For many at this stage in our careers I think we find benefits from both resident learning (industry conferences, regional meetings, etc) as well as online learning (webinars, Google Hangouts, etc). Resident learning environments are well-known in society, however, for those of you who are interested in learning in the online environment, following are websites and organizations out there which can provide free classes – many of which are further reaching than just the meetings industry.

Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org/

  • A team of individuals whose mission is "...to provide a free, world‑class education for anyone, anywhere." Subjects offered include finance, computing, math and basic test prep.

Muse University https://www.themuse.com

  • Created from the perspective that "...you can and should love your job—and be successful at it..." Offerings include free programs to learn new job skills, career advice, assistance in resume writing and more.

Coursera.orghttps://www.coursera.org/

  • An "...education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free." Topics include interactive design, cloud marketing, entrepreneurship, business foundations, and more. Many classes are offered in multiple languages with subtitles.

Knowledge is power – keep learning and keep growing! You are worth it!

(Blogger's note: In the coming months look for a blog about how we should take the differences of resident learning planning and online learning planning into consideration when planning virtual meetings and web conferences in conjunction with face-to-face meetings.)

Posted by Larissa J. Schultz, CMP, MHA

Larissa is a writer, author, and professional speaker in the hospitality industry. She is also an adjunct professor at Glendale Community College teaching in the Hospitality and Tourism program.

Follow Larissa on Twitter: @LarissaJSchultz
Visit Larissa's Website: www.ljsmeetingstrategies.com/

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