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Fully Online Courses Are No. 1 Requirement for Many Working Learners

closeup of hands on laptop

A recent report found that four out of five working learners do some of their learning online, and more than half (53 percent) are enrolled in courses that are entirely online. In fact, 42 percent of respondents said that "offering fully online classes and coursework" was their most important factor when choosing a school for continued education.  

The 2019 Working Learner Index, produced by child care and education benefits company Bright Horizons, is based on a survey of more than 31,000 workers who are going back to school while on the job.

Online learning is particularly important for older workers: Forty-eight percent of both Baby Boomers and Generation Xers said the availability of fully online classes was their most important factor. The same was true for 48 percent of working parents.

Workers are also looking for degree paths that will save them time. More than half of respondents (55 percent) said that the "time commitment" is their biggest challenge when pursuing a degree or certification. "Many see the value of competency-based and self-paced learning options," the report noted. "They are often delivered online, which may be driving adoption of online programs."

When workers were asked what types of things motivated them to go back to school, the most common answer was "to keep pace with or get ahead of changes in my position," cited by 42 percent of respondents. That was followed by "to make more money" (34 percent), "to pursue a career in a new field/function" (33 percent), "for advancement or growth opportunities at a different organization" (29 percent), "to set an example for my children" (17 percent), "my manager or mentor encouraged me to" (11 percent) and "it was a requirement of my position/industry" (8 percent).

The full report is freely available on the Bright Horizons site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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