Q&A: What Is the Difference Between Online and On-Demand Learning?

Answer: Online and on-demand learning are actually very similar. Most online schools (especially at the K-12 level) have a specific enrollment period that occurs during late summer and early fall. These online learning programs typically require students to follow a specific syllabus for assignments, and may require occasional online sessions or live webinars with the teacher. Students enrolled in these courses typically follow the same format and complete the class according to pre-determined due dates.

On-demand learning is more common at the post-secondary level. The main difference between online and on-demand learning is that a student has the ability to enroll in on-demand courses at any time during the school year. Although there are no scheduled due dates, the course material must be completed at a specific date according to when that student enrolled. On-demand learning is a great option for working students because it can give them the ability to complete schoolwork at their own pace. Some online schools even charge their tuition based on a time period, instead of per course − for example, a school might offer a specific tuition rate for a six-month period that may enable a student to save money when they take several courses.

Both options offer wonderful opportunities for students who seek increased flexibility in their learning. With either option, students must have access to an Internet connection, computer, and e-mail account though which to remain in close contact with their teacher. When taking classes online either through on-demand or other formats, it is also extremely important to determine whether your classes will be accepted for credit if you decide to transfer to another school, either online or site-based.

Christi WilsonChristi Wilson is a credentialed teacher of highly-gifted students in Northern Nevada. She has 11 years of classroom teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in education leadership, and has even taught K-12 education online. A mother of three busy boys, she knows how important it is to keep students engaged in the classroom and interested in a lifetime of learning.