Online education gives students access to learning opportunities anywhere, anytime. Melanie Vella speaks to e-learners who are seeing the results of this increasingly popular learning model.

Participate in online classes while living in Nepal? Sign me up. Prabesh Karki, a social entrepreneur from Nepal, introduced me to the concept of online learning while I was setting up a social business in Nepal.

Prabesh studied finance and business modules by accessing open educational resources through un.iversity.org, a Berlin-based online education platform. Many of the course modules lead to internationally recognised certification through the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System once successfully completed. ECTS is a credit scheme that makes study achievement comparable in universities all over Europe, including the University of Malta.

Such education opportunities are limited in Nepal.

The un.iversity.org online platform offers courses in a range of subjects including medicine, computer, science, economics, physics, law, design and philosophy.

Once I started writing the business plan for my own social business, I enrolled in the DO School Start-Up Lab course with un.iversity.org.

This course was a practitioners’ guide to starting a social venture. It combined lectures from seasoned professors and practitioners such as Muhammad Yunus, the founder of social business, as well as case studies from successful social entrepreneurs.

The video lectures and interactive quizzes covered all areas relevant to starting an entrepreneurial venture, from financing tools to marketing and human resource management. This proved to be a vital tool in starting up my venture. I was able to log in to the course, watch the lectures, and discuss project ideas and exchange information with students based anywhere from Israel to Canada through the online discussion forums.

Geographic limitations and attached expenses such as accommodation and commuting are removed from the equation, making access to education much more viable

Online education platforms offer students from all over the world the opportunity to take courses from professors who are based anywhere globally.

Geographic limitations and attached expenses such as accommodation and commuting are removed from the equation, making access to education much more viable and creating a pathway to lifelong learning.

Ciara RyanCiara Ryan

Ciara Ryan, 23, has completed two courses, What a Plant Knows and The Age of Sustainable Development with www.coursera.org. This is an education platform that partners with top universities and institutions worldwide to offer courses online for anyone to take for free.

“I could study at my own pace and in my free time and revise the material to ensure I have learnt the information,” she says.

“I chose these courses as they specialised in particular subjects that I wanted to explore. The subjects complemented the full-time Earth Systems degree I was pursuing at the University of Malta at the same time. The fact that the courses were free was an added incentive.

“The interactive course encouraged the setting up of communication with other course participants. Online discussion forums provided a platform to ask questions and discuss topics covered in the course with classmates and tutors in different countries who had similar interests, yet may have other perspectives. Now my network of colleagues and friends has expanded inter­nationally,” she says.

Harry VanderpuyeHarry Vanderpuye

Harry Vanderpuye, 23, is currently completing a Level 3 diploma in accounting with the Association of Accounting Technicians through the online platform BPP Learning Media.

“The flexibility of an online correspondence course has allowed me to keep my full-time employment as an accounts clerk with an international hotel chain to gain experience while continuing my studies,” he says. “Self-discipline, commitment and time planning are critical to complete the course.

“As a self-learner, I take initiative to allocate time away from responsibilities to study and complete assignments and exams.

“The online course is user-friendly and assistance is constantly available from the AAT lecturers. The AAT qualification is recognised in over 90 countries globally. This enables me to use the knowledge and skills I have acquired to carry out accounting procedures anywhere in the world,” he says.

Sean Busuttil CordinaSean Busuttil Cordina

Sean Busuttil Cordina, 25, completed a diploma in business and marketing with Northumbria University.

“The Northumbria University’s online portal is easy to use and offers support and assistance. These were essential factors when choosing which distance learning programme I would follow,” he says. “From my personal experience I found that, online programmes require a period of adjustment to get accustomed to this method of study.

“However, it turned out to be the most convenient and efficient way of studying that fit in with my schedule.

“Now I have succeeded in starting up my own company called Bastion International, a maritime security brokerage. The knowledge I gained from the Business and Marketing Diploma has facilitated me in implementing this venture. I will go on to pursue an online Maritime Security Masters Degree with Coventry University next January so as to reinforce the knowledge I have gained through years of experience in the field and continue to develop my business’ competitive advantage,” he adds.

“Online learning opportunities have enhanced my ongoing professional development.”

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