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The Internet has been put to yet another utility, as more and more students are switching to studying for their degrees, a process that is part of a global industry by the name of online learning. In a nutshell, internet learning is any combination of education methods using digital tools. Online learning has been created with the purpose of students learning faster and at lower costs.

One such example of distance education is University Alliance. It is the largest distance education network in the U.S., which offers online degrees such as Bachelor of Arts in Accounting. Courses are delivered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The student accesses online classes wherever the Internet is available. Distance education companies can incorporate digital tools; used to enhance the learning experience (e.g. Video and Audio streamed lectures, virtual bulletin boards, and chat rooms, where students may collaborate online with members of the University or course).

How Online Learning Came About

Online learning was first established in 1998, referred to as e-learning (with a hyphen). It arose out of three needs the need to reduce costs associated with the usual classroom learning (e.g. textbooks, desks, and other resources), the need to train a large number of employees simultaneously, and the need to improve the effectiveness of training by narrowing it down to individual learning (this means that a large number would still be able to do the course, but each student will receive individual attention). Distance learning has succeeded in satisfying all three of these needs. It is a relatively young industry, having only come out a few years ago. Looking at the I.T. perspective, online learning appears to be a more effective way of learning than the traditional way in many ways, which will be discussed later on.

I.T. Background – Trends

It has been predicted that with online learning, software will shift from hard drive applications to Internet services, which means that interactivity products will be delivered online, and the existing software will be updated online each day.

Also, purchasing school products will be done online for efficiency and reducing the cost. Learners will also develop learning and technical skills as they study.

Internet learning companies will fund development of “cool” learning using things such as game interfaces, media and entertainers.

Impact

Although recent, e-education has had a rather large impact on society. The combined annual growth rate for online education between now and 2003 is expected to be approximately 80 percent per year. Universities have been saving large amounts of resources by incorporating distance learning. Depending on the persons view, the impact that online learning has had can be seen as either positive or negative. I feel that this impact is positive for many reasons. For instance the savings made on resources, as well as the fact that because students learn faster and more efficiently (due to receiving individual attention), there will be quite a large number of confident and qualified employees after they have finished the course.

It sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately there are a few issues which impede the quick adoption of online learning.

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