In today’s world, it would be difficult finding someone who isn’t familiar with the topic of virtual learning. Whether or not individuals have taken online classes themselves, they’ve likely heard of the concept. Due in no small part to the impacts of the pandemic, many schools transferred students online for a time. Businesses that could train through remote methods did so. And some continuing education organizations like the AICPA even lifted restrictions for online, self-study courses. Although there are still numerous concerns with virtual learning, there are also many benefits. Perhaps one of the most recognizable advantages is the ability to learn in a risk-free environment. And given the concern about COVID-19 and health, people might assume physical safety foremost. But virtual learning contributes to low-risk education in many other ways as well.
Virtual Learning Decreases Risk
Since it’s probably at the forefront of most peoples’ minds anyway, let’s go ahead and get this out of the way first. It could go without saying that virtual learning greatly decreases the chances of physical harm. Particularly when it comes to things like disease and sickness. After all, it’s far more difficult to become exposed to viruses and transferable illnesses when individuals aren’t in close proximity. But preventable physical harm goes far beyond accidental ailments like COVID-19 or the flu. In fact, a startling statistic is that workplace violence stands as one of the leading causes of job-related death.
In 2019, BioMed Central noted that interpersonal arguments and mass shootings surpassed robbery-related incidents. And as recently as 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, coworkers or associates were primarily responsible for acts of workplace violence. In fact, Health and Safety Executive’s annual statistics report reveals that 44% of the time, the perpetrator and victim of workplace violence are personally acquainted. So, while some fatal incidents of workplace violence are perpetrated from outside, they occur more often from within.
Beyond workplace violence, injuries frequently come about as a result of unsafe practices. OSHA’s “Fatal Four” causes of death in the workplace include:
- Stricken by an object
- Caught-in or Caught-Between
And the list of physical risks could go on and on. Of course, bodily harm is something every individual must take on at some point or another. It comes with life, no matter the work environment. But at least in a basic sense, it seems possible to reduce that risk with virtual work and learning opportunities. Working online will never fully reduce the possibility of physical harm, but it can contribute to a safer work environment in some cases.
The physical risks described above have less to do with virtual learning than they do with where work takes place. But one educational risk that is greatly reduceable through virtual training opportunities is career impact. You might have heard something along these lines before: “People learn best by doing.” And in many cases, that’s true. The difficult part is that sometimes, it’s simply not feasible to “do” the thing that needs to be learned. At least, not in a way which presents little to no risk. Sometimes, the risk can be to the individual, and other times, to a company at large. For instance, someone who has never taken an accounting course shouldn’t be responsible for handling financial statements just to learn. Doing so would negatively impact both individual and organization. But, in a virtual environment, it is possible to learn business by doing business.
Of course, that’s the prime selling point of VTR Learning. With our courses, the learner acts as an intern for a fictional company called Central Products. And it’s within this true-to-life business setting that they can observe job tasks play out as they would in a real organization. By participating in fictional business, individuals can learn the theories and skills they need to succeed in actual business — without the risk of failure. And, of course, that’s the crux of this issue. In a real business, failure could be catastrophic. But with virtual learning experiences, failure is simply an opportunity to learn, without fear of harming the company. And in that sense, an individual can learn the skills critical to their career without putting their career in jeopardy.
Education is expensive, no matter how you cut it. That’s a common refrain among those in higher-learning. College, which might at one point have been affordable off a part-time, minimum wage job, easily takes decades to pay off. Even the cost of mandatory public schooling has increased for youth, with supplies and other fees easily mounting to hundreds. Sadly, continuing education is no exception to the rule. However, virtual learning can reduce the costs and financial risk associated with education.
Many certifying organizations either expect or encourage their members to attend conferences and other events. And many times, there is continuing education credit available by doing so. However, the fees for conferences can be exorbitant, depending on the size and scope. And once the travel and lodging costs are accounted for, the financial burden of attendance can be great. However, many organizations now offer online event options, which at least cut the travel and lodging costs out of the equation.
Another alternative is to take online self-study courses. Depending on the provider, these can quickly become costly as well. However, not all options are unreasonably priced. And some vendors actually offer free courses. That way, business professionals can try out options before committing to them. VTR Learning is no exception. We offer at least one free course for each of our major organizational affiliates. So, be sure to check out the shop to learn more.
While the financial cost of continuing education is undeniably high, there are certain ways virtual learning can help alleviate the burden. And with free credit courses, it is possible to decrease the monetary risk.
Give Virtual Learning a Try
Virtual learning isn’t without its problems. That much is clear from the impact of coronavirus on the education system. But it does provide ample opportunity for growth in a low-risk environment, as can be seen well with continuing education opportunities. And furthermore, virtual learning might even represent a way to heighten ethical awareness. So, if physical, career, monetary or some other type of risk has kept you from learning well, virtual education opportunities might be best for you. If you have never tried an online course before, we invite you to give it a go with our virtual options. Since they’re free, and worth credit, there’s nothing to lose and no risk to be had.
Article written by Braden Norwood
Last updated February 27, 2023