Business Commentary for Rational Individuals

Why Online Learning Will Continue to Grow

Dr. Bill Belew

Issue III - June 22, 2006

Introduction by Mr. Stolyarov: Dr. Belew presents a list of five reasons why he thinks online education will continue to expand: the advent of high-speed Internet, higher demands from employers and the global economy, universal accessibility, profit opportunities, and the availability of opportunities to get ahead. Online learning will grow because it helps many aspiring individuals conveniently achieve their goals and prosper.

Online learning will continue to grow for several reasons.

The first reason is because of the advent of high-speed Internet.

Anybody with a home PC can now take a course online. If you have a laptop, you can take your course online and take it with you to the coffice (coffee house/office). That is where I am writing this.

PCs and Macs are also becoming more affordable. For the price of one credit hour at some schools, a student can now buy a good desktop Dell or Gateway PC.

There is no more driving to school, finding a parking place, sleeping on the sofa in the library, hanging out in the student center.

Students can now do their homework when their schedule permits, or after they get off work, make dinner, throw in a load of clothes, pay the bills, and put the kids to bed.

Online learning will continue to grow because it comes to the student rather than requiring the student to go to it. And now it comes faster.

The second reason online-learning will grow is because employers are demanding higher skills from their employees to continue to compete in this global economy. The guy in India may be better and quicker than you (he may have already completed the online course), and there is no reason for an employee to not take the course.

Well, one reason -- they are too lazy.  Two reasons -- they don't have the discipline to get online.

Competition in the workplace is sending more students to college and more workers back to school in order to keep up with the Wangs of China or the Paks of Korea or the Suzukis of Japan.

Online classes offer the flexibility to continue to study that was not there before.

The hottest sectors are health care, education, business, technology, and engineering. And so much of that content can be acquired through discipline and access to an online course.

That is why online-learning will continue to grow and be profitable.

The third reason why online-learning will continue to grow is because it accessible everywhere there is an internet connection -- that is, everywhere.

More students from more countries are seeking an online degree from an American university than ever before.

If a student is not online or an employee is not trying to upgrade, chances are someone in India who can do their job if it is outsourced is online preparing to take that job.

Techies can gain all sorts of credentials and certificates through online study.

Engineering is the same in almost every language, meaning courses can be written if they are not already for speakers who use English as a second language.

With the growing economies of China and India, online courses are now more affordable to students from those countries.

Students in those countries have dreams of coming to the US. If they can complete most/all of their courses online, perhaps the US will relax restrictions and allow them to come for advanced education or to come to work.

Foreign students will continue to come, and their numbers will increase with the growth of the economies and the access to the Internet.

That is why online-learning will continue to grow and be profitable.

The fourth reason I think online-learning will continue to grow is because there is so much money to be made at it.

University of Phoenix is making big bucks online.

Through good management, a school can control the number of students who are enrolled in a class. This means more students are taught in and pay for a class. The prof is paid the same when there are 3 students or 30. Why wouldn't a school do its darndest to ensure there are 30? That is possible online.

If a venture is profitable, and people remain the greedy bunch they are, surely they will want to offer a service that provides them with as much income for as little effort as possible, right? That's the American way, after all: get as much as possible for as little in return.

Online-learning is the answer to that equation in the higher-ed field.

And that's another reason why I think online-learning will continue to grow.

There is one last reason why I think online-learning will continue to grow.

It gives people/students a chance to get ahead.

There are still enough people who want to compete -- maybe outside of the US or newly immigrating to the US -- and even a few Americans perhaps.

An online-learning experience gives the individual the chance to get ahead.

High-school students can take classes in preparation for their enrollment. College students can take classes in addition to their regular class. University students can take online classes during summer sessions (my son is enrolled in one now) to get ahead of their classmates. 

Individuals can get ahead of their colleagues/work mates.

Question:  Two people are up for a promotion; both are equally qualified; one just finished an online course and throws that into the equation. Who gets the job?

Online courses come to people, which is good for them, for their futures, for their lives.

That is the last reason why I think online-learning will grow.

What do you think?


Dr. Bill Belew is a former Intelligence Officer for a Destroyer Squadron. He lived 20 years in Japan, where he started a language school for Japanese ECS. Dr. Belew teaches classes for a vocational school and online for a national university.

See Dr. Belew's blog, PanAsianBiz, for news and discussions about business and current events in Russia and Asia. See ZhongHuaRising for Dr. Belew's reports on business in China, RisingSunofNihon on business in Japan, and TheBizofKnowledge on business education.

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