7 Advantages of Self-Paced Online Courses

Posted on July 20, 2023

Posted on July 20, 2023

For many, the thought of learning and education conjures images of a classroom full of students or an online program guided by a professor – cohort-based learning. This is a common learning model, but it’s not the only one available. 

Self-paced learning offers students the freedom to choose when, where, and how they want to learn. More independent than cohort-based learning, self-paced learning gives students more flexibility over their time and education experience. 

Discover 7 advantages of self-paced online courses to see if it’s right for you. 

What Is Self-Paced Online Learning? 

Self-paced learning, also known as on-demand learning, is an education style that allows students to advance through an educational program at their own pace. Though you may be part of a class with others, you progress through the course and complete the required reading and assignments at your own comfortable speed. 

Online programs are typically a self-paced model that offers on-demand course curriculum. For example, you can watch lectures, take quizzes, and complete assignments whenever you choose – whether that’s in the late evening after the kids are in bed, on the weekdays before work, or on a Sunday afternoon. 

Advantages of Self-Paced Learning 

There are many advantages to learning at your own pace, especially if you’re balancing a lot of responsibilities outside of school that make it difficult to keep to a strict schedule of lectures and exams. 

Here are some advantages of self-paced learning: 

1. Flexibility 

On-demand courses offer more flexibility than traditional learning models. If you’re struggling with a topic and need more time to review and retain the concepts, you can take your time with the course without feeling pressured by deadlines. 

Conversely, if you are already familiar with course topics – either from natural aptitude or your work experience – you don’t have to hold yourself back. You can move through the course quickly to save time. 

2. Balancing Daily Responsibilities 

Your education is a priority, but you may also have responsibilities to your family or your job (and you have to pay bills). As much as you may want to put school first, life happens and may at times push school on the backburner. 

With a traditional course format, this can cause late points or missed assignments and poor comprehension, impacting your grades and subsequent coursework. But with self-paced learning, you can manage your time more effectively to complete your assignments without neglecting other responsibilities – or vice versa. 

3. Better Retention 

Some people thrive under pressure. Others don’t. If a looming deadline makes it challenging for you to focus and organize your thoughts, despite knowing the material, self-paced learning takes the pressure off. 

When your deadlines are open-ended, you can focus better and go over material until you have a command of it. You’ll not only improve your performance, but you’ll retain the material for your future coursework and career. 

4. On-Demand Access 

Modern students have many paths to their education. Some are taking courses while still in high school, others are balancing a degree program with the responsibilities of running a home. People with thriving careers are upskilling or changing careers while balancing a busy schedule – which may include business travel or a long commute. 

With on-demand course access, you can complete lectures and assignments anywhere at any time. If you have a short work trip with a few nights in a hotel, all you need is a laptop and a strong internet connection. If you have a long commute on public transportation with Wi-Fi, you can watch course videos or assigned readings. When you’re not restricted to a classroom, the possibilities are endless. 

5. Ownership Over the Learning Experience 

With self-paced learning, you are the master of your own learning experience. You have ownership over your learning by defining what you do, when you do it, and how you study, building self-confidence and developing strong learning habits. 

Everyone learns differently, but having ownership to learning can help you identify and develop your own skills to support and enhance your learning experience, not just with mastery of one course, but throughout your degree program and in your career. 

6. Self-Assessment Tools 

Though exams and assignments may be graded by a professor or automatically, self-paced courses often have self-assessment tools that you can use to ensure you have a mastery of the concepts before those high-stakes assignments come around. 

Self-assessments can take many forms, including assignment rubrics, scripts, journal assignments, concept reviews, and practice exams. Texts also contain short ungraded quizzes or assessments to ensure you understand the foundational concepts before you build upon them. 

7. Improves Self-Reflection 

Self-paced learning can be more confident learning. As an independent learner, you are responsible for your success and are positioned to develop an internal motivation to master course concepts all on your own. You have a clear purpose of what you want to gain from your learning experience, making it more meaningful and enjoyable. 

Also, when you focus on the areas that interest you and develop your own learning skill sets, you can better identify those areas in which you struggle. With the pressure off, you can nurture your own learning without the feelings of frustration, anxiety, or boredom that often accompany courses that don’t pique your interest.  

Considering Self-Paced Learning? 

Instead of the restrictions to schedule and learning speed with a traditional format, self-paced learning puts the power in the learner’s hands to manage time, motivation, coursework, and concept mastery. If self-paced learning is the right fit for you, start a free trial at Sophia or explore our courses

Category: Higher Education

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