What is Distance Learning?
Distance learning is an educational option that allows students to earn college credit or take classes for personal enrichment any time, anywhere. This option is offered by many colleges and universities, but what does a distance course entail? How do they work and what can students expect? Read on to learn more about this convenient learning format!
Overview of Distance Learning Courses
A distance learning course is simply an educational course that is delivered remotely, meaning that students can complete some or all of their coursework without having to be physically present in a classroom on any campus. There are many different kinds of distance learning courses. For example:
- Online Courses are usually offered alongside traditional courses at colleges and universities and allow students to receive instruction entirely from home. Students are responsible for their own access, which will require a computer and an internet connection (at a minimum).
- Hybrid Courses blend distance learning with traditional classroom-based delivery methods. While these courses contain a flexible distance component, students still need to attend some classes in person. The amount of campus-based classroom time differs from course to course.
- Conferencing is a method of live distance learning that has students joining an audio or video classroom setting via a telephone or a group chat program (such as Skype). Students may conference with a group or vis-à-vis with an instructor.
- Correspondence Courses allow students to receive their educational materials by mail and in turn, return any completed assignments by mail.
These distance learning options are a necessity in situations where daily travel might be impractical, and they’re a helpful alternative to traditional courses for students with chronic illness, mobility issues, or disabilities. Also, the flexibility offered by distance learning makes it a sensible choice for working students who may not have the time or availability to attend a traditional course.
Distance learning courses typically allow students to access course materials at their own convenience. For example, while an online college course may contain the same schedule of lectures as its classroom counterpart, the best place and time of day to access them are largely left up to the student.
However, distance learning courses may also be conducted in real time, meaning that while students do not need to be physically present in a classroom, they will need to be on a certain website (or conferencing program) at a certain time on a regular basis.
Deadlines for completing any coursework will also vary by course. Students may need to keep up with reading and homework assignments or make arrangements to take proctored exams, either online or on campus, at specified test dates. On the other hand, some distance learning courses do not have any deadlines at all and are fully self-paced.
Success with any distance learning course requires a great deal of discipline and organization. Check out Study.com’s brief course on college success skills to learn strategies and tips for staying motivated when you’re going it alone.
Availability of Courses
Distance learning courses are available for nearly every subject and at all levels of education. Students enrolled in these classes receive the same quality of education as traditional students, with the same instructional support and access to campus resources.
Students may now earn a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or even a doctorate without setting foot inside a classroom. Students can also access distance learning courses to update their job skills or continue their education.