Article by Annie Coop
The future of education is changing, thanks to online learning. Issues such as accessibility and distance have long put educational rights on the back burner, but online learning addresses all these. A common misconception, however, is that it remains too selective with its students, particularly with regard to the less technologically inclined senior demographic.
For those who aren’t as familiar, a lot of questions may surround this modern tool. What is an online classroom? How does its teachers keep tabs on students? Will online courses provide the same qualifications? Thankfully, many online classes provide terrific support and programs that cater to students’ specific requirements and concerns.
A support team dedicated to guiding students is critical. This is especially crucial since much of the learning through online programs happens individually. Having good student support systems in place can help learners make the most of the course, no matter what their age. Additionally, some even offer online tutoring and career counseling, similar to the services of a traditional school.
While it is challenging enough to return to schooling as an adult, there are additional concerns for those who are a little further along in life. However, seniors should not be too intimidated by the thought of enrolling. Pew Research Center has even reported that the demographic is more digitally connected than ever before, with four in ten seniors now smartphone owners. This characteristic reveals a good opportunity for them in online education. But what other benefits can they get from utilizing this modern tool?
Keeps seniors’ brains sharp
The National Institute on Aging cites learning new skills as one way to keep the mind active and slow down cognitive aging. This is because learning or doing something new can strengthen memory and problem-solving skills. In some cases, the brain stimulation can even help ward off mind-deteriorating conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. However, it is important to note that it is no way a substitute for medical treatment.
Helps them stay busy post-retirement
A contributing factor to loneliness among seniors is having fewer activities to keep them busy. Because most of them have long retired and no longer have a job to keep them mentally stimulated, their minds tend to wander more. Studying will keep them occupied and give them a sense of productivity and accomplishment, according to an article by Everyday Health.
Provides a convenient, flexible, and comfortable alternative to traditional learning
Perhaps one of the biggest barriers keeping seniors from engaging in activities is mobility issues. For many, the simple requirement of having to leave their house can be a big deterrent to learning and living a full life. Some elderly citizens even require assistance from a designated caregiver, which can be difficult to accommodate in classrooms. Schools also involve tedious enrollment processes that take a lot of time and effort. Since online courses can be undertaken practically anywhere, distance and logistics are no longer an issue.
Additionally, some seniors have a tendency to feel overwhelmed when faced with too many tasks at once. This isn’t as easy when you’re inside an actual classroom. With online courses, students have the freedom to build their class schedule around their daily activities and log off whenever needed. That means no more having to sit through 8-hour lectures and having to struggle staying awake when they need to rest.
Establishes a sense of belonging through online communities
As they age, seniors become more emotionally sensitive and prone to loneliness. Traditions Senior Living has previously pointed out social isolation as a symptom of poor health. For seniors, it is associated with higher blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels, depression, and (in the worst cases) premature death. Unfortunately, going out to socialize with senior groups or centers is not an option for everyone. Online classes can help combat elderly loneliness by channeling the influence of social media and replicating teacher and classmate relations.
Offers tuition privileges for elderly students
Lastly, online classes are better than traditional schools because seniors won’t be spending money on commuting or accommodation. Also, older adult students are entitled to a number of benefits. Plenty of universities offer discounts and flexible financial plans for its senior groups, both for credit and non-credit courses. Scholarship Positions lists a variety of scholarship and grant opportunities for senior students.