What's the best thing about the Internet? Online education, of course! Since its inception, the Net has connected millions of teachers with millions of students from around the world. And even though we often think about education in terms of earning degrees and getting better jobs, learning for learning's sake has always been a popular option.
It's called auditing. It's a practice whereby students participate in a class without receiving academic credit. Beginners, returning students, and lifelong learners often audit classes to boost their knowledge of a favorite subject. Auditors used to make campus commutes in order to sit in on these lessons. Now, online auditors can "attend" classes from home.
Auditing is a great option for first time e-learners, who aren't sure how they'll handle online education. Without investing too much money, or risking their future grade point average, new students can test the terrain, and explore new career directions.
Some major pluses come with online auditing. For one thing, the materials and information are either free, or greatly reduced in cost. For another, you don't have to stress about assignments and grades. You can work at your own pace, and repeat lessons as you need them.
Again, the downside of auditing is that you won't receive college credit for your work. Depending on the school's policy, you may not receive a traditional grade (A-F) either. Guidelines vary a great deal, so be sure you know exactly what you're getting — in terms of instructor feedback and classmate interaction - before you enroll.