Advantages of Accelerated Learning
The benefits of online learning are undeniable. Students can
take classes at their convenience, allowing them to keep up with
their regular jobs or family responsibilities. They can pursue
degrees in a variety of fields, even if they live far from a
traditional brick-and-mortar campus. And advances in technology
have made it easy for students to take part in interactive,
multimedia lessons and live chats that simulate the classroom
experience. There are even online resources such as
cyber-libraries that provide online students with all the tools
they need to succeed.
There is one additional benefit of online learning that hasn't
been discussed as frequently, however. It is the benefit of
Most online learning programs are designed to convey a vast
amount of material in a limited time frame. At schools such as
AIU Online, Colorado Technical University and the University of
Phoenix, students who already have an associate's degree can
complete their B.A. studies in just over a year. Earning an MBA
may take even less time. To help students retain everything they
have learned, courses are taught on an accelerated schedule.
Instead of taking several courses at the same time, as is the
norm on traditional campuses, students zero in on one key
component at a time. Courses generally last about six weeks, so
students are able to focus intently on that material.
Because course material is divided up into discrete blocks that
are taught one at a time, students don't have to deal with
distractions from any other courses going on at the same time.
They can put all their energies into learning about the topic at
hand. In the real world, where work is often project-based, this
ability to delve deeply into a particular subject becomes a
Studies also show that a compressed learning schedule actually
improves memory retention. A summary from The Learning
Revolution, by Gordon Dryden and Dr. Jeannette Voss, provides
examples of this seeming paradox. For instance, in one study,
American soldiers were taught German in either a 12-week course
or an 18-day accelerated course. Surprisingly, those in the
shorter course gained a better ability to read and speak German.
In traditional semester schedules, students often complain that
by the time the final comes around, they have forgotten what
they learned in the first weeks of class. With the accelerated
schedule that is typical of most online programs, there are
unlikely to be any such complaints. The material is always fresh
in the student's mind. Shorter classes also mean that students
are more likely to remain interested in the material throughout
the course. Longer courses can sometimes cause students'
interest to flag.
The accelerated course structure of online learning also means
it's easy to review key concepts, because the course material is
available 24 hours a day. Concepts are also reinforced via a
variety of delivery methods. One idea might be the basis for a
chat room discussion, a multi-media presentation and some online
reading material. The more often students encounter key
concepts, the more likely they are to remember them. In
addition, if a student does not understand a concept, he or she
can quickly and easily make contact with the professor or with
other students, via email or class message boards. And since
students can study course material at any time that's convenient
for them, they can spend more time on more difficult concepts
while breezing through the information that is easy to them.
Accelerated learning is particularly well suited to adult
learners, who tend to pick up certain concepts faster, thanks to
their real-life experiences.
The online learning model offers a plethora of advantages. Its
accelerated format helps students earn their degrees more
quickly, of course, but it also gets them more deeply involved
in the learning process, holds their attention longer, and helps
them retain information better. Clearly, accelerated online
learning creates an environment in which students can do their