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How to Create a Profitable Distance Education Program

The emergence of online learning or web-based education was looked upon like a miracle by some, while for others it was nothing more than an insignificant event in the long history of education and web. The proponents of distance education use various reasons such as its wide reach, and cost-effectiveness to disarm the critics. In fact, there is already enough commentary on the web discussing the cost benefits of distance education. In these resource-scarce times, there is a fresh emphasis on the potential of e-learning.

What are the benefits of e-learning?

From the numerous advantages that e-learning offers, the prominent are given. An examination of each follows:

- Cost-effective
- Time-saving
- More effective learning
- Lower environmental impact

Lesser stress on the environment

Learning on the web is an effective way for organizations to introduce a check on their carbon footprint. The lower CO2 emission per student than conventional campus-based university courses, reduction in the amount of student travel (fuel savings), and elimination of energy consumption arising out of student accommodation (in case of residential institutions) are the major savings. Although computers and networks are not environment friendly, yet the CO2 emissions arising out of computer usage are significantly lower than traditional classroom.

Does e-learning save time?

The obvious benefit of e-learning is its faster delivery cycle than the traditional instruction delivery methods. There is virtually no limit on how fast learning can be imparted to the student as the entire course is available online and it totally depends on the learner’s ability how quickly he or she can absorb the contents being transmitted.

Lower costs?

A large number of scholars believe that the primary benefit of online education is the cost can be distributed over a large number of students, resulting in lesser expenses for educational institutions. There are a number of case studies available online that have proved the lower cost argument for e-learning. The cost dynamics have a high dependence on student enrollment numbers, another reason that e-learning is considered cost-effective because there is a reduction in training time known as learning compression. What contributes to this reduction in apprenticeship time?

- Students are free to go at their own pace, without worrying about the pace of the slowest member of the group.
- There is no time spent on questions or queries which are irrelevant to other members of the class.
- Time saved during travel to and from the learning center.
- Learners are free to learn what they need while skipping elements of a program they do not need.

Thus, owing to the concept of learning compression, e-learning can deliver the same amount of instruction or information as in a classroom by taking 25 to 50 percent less time. Time saved is reflected in the form of lesser expenditure.

Creating a profitable e-program?

Those who reject this argument have their rightful reasons to do so. Online courses are not restricted by any classroom size and per-student costs decrease as student enrollments increase. However, reaching this threshold is hardly an easy thing to achieve and even more difficult is to maintain, as the number of competing programs continue to grow each year.

A major reason why it’s expensive and challenging to create a profitable online education program is due to the institution’s focus on initial fixed costs, ignoring variable costs. Whether it is an engineering program or management studies course, initial costs include designing the perfect schedule, developing and creating effective instructional materials and the technological infrastructural costs. But when factoring the total costs, you should also consider that an educational institution also counts continuing costs, better known as variable costs such as course updating and revision, research and development, and the ever-changing technological infrastructure.

In order to create a well-meaning, truly profitable distance education program, an institution has to keep in mind all these factors.

This post was brought to you by Saurabh Tyagi. He is a writer at Shiksha.com, whose expertise lies in online management studies programs. He took to writing at a tender age of ten when he submitted his first essay for the school magazine. Although an engineer by qualification, he has kept his creative flame alive and still writes and guest blogs.

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