Last updated: 30.10.14

Online learning 'can offer effective teaching in any location'

People who get involved in online learning courses can expect to be taught just as effectively as if they were in a classroom regardless of their location.

This is according to Professor Thierry Picq, associate dean for pedagogical innovation at Emlyon Business School, who told the Independent that he also believes online courses should be combined with social interaction tools for maximum effectiveness.

Online education is becoming an increasingly popular and accepted means of receiving tutelage for people who are unable to attend a conventional educational establishment. These might include stay-at-home mothers, those working on offshore oil rigs or mines, or people who spend much of their time out at sea.

With these online courses, such students can engage with audio lectures, PowerPoint presentations and videos to talk them through complicated subjects.

Professor Picq said: "Be sure to work on a regular basis following a strict plan, with timing and structured activities, just like you would be subjected to in a traditional classroom. The only difference with distance learning is that you're the one who gets to define that structure and pace."

However, he also noted that for greatest benefit, many students prefer to combine their online tutelage with some form of social interaction, which is why some opt for courses that offer some form of social network activities.

Forums, virtual group work and web seminars that allow participants to interact with each other give learners the opportunity to discuss their course content, ask questions and collaborate, which can enrich their learning experience.

The professor explained: "Learning remains a social activity; we learn with others and through others."

Recent employment trends could encourage the government to invest further in online learning. According to data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, businesses are currently keen to expand their workforce and are creating new jobs each month, but are being held back by a lack of suitably skilled candidates.

Online learning could help to upskill the nation's workforce, bringing them professional development opportunities, while also bolstering economic growth.