Today’s workplace looks much different than it did a decade or two ago. Instead of meeting over a computer to edit a file, employees can work in different areas of the building, or even different areas of the country, and mutually edit the file in Google Docs. Work is shared instantly in a Dropbox, and Facetime or Skype are used to host virtual meetings when in-person meetings are not possible.
There is no denying that today's workplace is highly virtual, and that does not seem to be changing any time soon. So how can the modern student prepare themselves for a virtual working world? The answer may lie in online education.
1. Online Learning Creates Collaboration as a Norm
One of the benefits learned in an online learning environment is the ability to collaborate with teachers and students virtually. This is the way the modern workforce works, and students begin learning these procedures while still earning their degree. In addition, the modern worker is going to need to learn how to collaborate with artificial intelligence, and this is starting to work its way into the modern online education environment.
2. Students Learn to Work Productively in a Remote Environment
Another perk to online learning is the fact that workers learn to be productive even in a remote environment. Often modern workers do not have a supervisor in the next cubical, and the modern student taking online classes does not have a teacher in front of the room. As many as 43 percent of Americans have reported working remotely, either full or part-time, as part of their careers, and this is a skill that online education can teach.
3. Students Learn to Interact Remotely with People They Never Meet
In the modern workforce, it’s possible to work with people you never meet in person. This requires a number of skills, such as being able to communicate well through email and text, that were not part of education a decade ago. This can be challenging because you are learning to communicate in an environment where you have no body language or other nonverbal cues to read. This is a highly sought-after skill to effectively interact in an electronic age.
4. Increased Self-Discipline Is Needed in Online Environments
It requires more self-discipline to be productive in an online environment, both for school and for work. By learning to have this type of self-discipline while earning a degree, students will be prepared to work remotely should the need arise in their future careers. That self-discipline is also a soft skill that can translate well into other areas.
5. Students Become Familiar with Technology
Working in the cloud, uploading things to shared file systems like Dropbox, using spreadsheets, and working in Google Docs are all soft skills that are helpful to the modern worker. Working in a virtual environment for school helps familiarize students with these technologies. This can give them a boost when they apply for work in the future.
The technological familiarity that comes with online education goes beyond what a student could learn in a computer class. Instead of just learning how to use the technology, students become naturals at trusting it for their day-to-day work tasks. It becomes second nature to send things to the cloud or to log on to a chat room to collaborate on a project. This type of intuitive skill in technology is in high demand in today’s workplace.
While these may not be directly taught in an online education environment, they are indirectly mastered. You must learn to work with technology to succeed in an online classroom, and those skills translate well into the modern workforce. This can be particularly valuable for older learners who are looking to extend their education and need to gain some familiarity with technology that they previously lacked. It also helps young learners who may not have experience with the technology of the workplace.
6. Gain Soft Skills That Make Workers More Valuable
Soft skills are those skills not taught directly in a degree program, but that are highly valuable to employers. Some soft skills learned in an online learning environment that make applicants more appealing in the workforce include:
- Keeping deadlines
- Working independently
- Working collaboratively
- Time management
- Team building
- Organizational skills
These skills are not something that is part of a class syllabus. You probably won’t hire an instructor to teach them. However, the design of the online learning environment naturally teaches them, and many employers are starting to recognize that when they hire or promote their workers.
7. Students Gain a Larger Level of Responsibility
Finally, taking classes in an online environment forces students to learn a high level of responsibility. They are fully responsible for their educational success. Teachers may encourage students via email, but the lack of face-to-face interaction means less push from instructors to get work turned in on time. Homework assignments take a different form as well, as deadlines may be more flexible. Students must learn to motivate themselves to get work done, and once they learn those skills, they are better equipped to be responsible workers in the modern tech-savvy workforce.
If you want to pursue an undergraduate, graduate degree or any of our other degree options, look no further than University of the Cumberlands. With professors who have years of real-world experience in the same field they are teaching, very competitive tuition rates, and a sense of honor in everything we do, why look any further? See what UC can do for you by contacting an admissions counselor for more information.