There are many myths surrounding distance education. Some of which include that: it is easier than going in person, it requires less work, and you don’t have to show up for any specified times. This list is an attempt to give factual an essential facts that you need to know about distance education. I finished my bachelor’s degree on-line and my mother is currently finishing her bachelor’s on-line. Over the course of our programs we have come to realize the following things about distance education:
1. Distance education is not for the busy adult. In my experience distance education actually requires more time than traditional learning. You have to complete the readings on your own, study on your own then complete the given assignments. The tests are a lot harder and pull a lot from obscure facts so you have to be sure that you are well read.
2. You can cheat in distance learning. Many professors require a proctor at a local college or a tutoring center. The proctor receives the test and has to sign off that you didn’t use books. Sometimes there are professors that give open book tests but it is very rare. In addition, if a professor doesn’t require a proctor the questions are so obscure if you didn’t study you won’t finish the test.
3. Distance education has a flexible schedule. This is definitely not true. Assignments are due on every day of the week. This is difficult because in a traditional setting things are only due when you have class. In addition there are often scheduled chats that have to be attended. These are not flexible.
4. All distance programs are scams. I attended a distance program through the University of Tennessee. I finished entirely on-line and my college is accredited by a well respected organization. My employers will never know that I attended college on-line. There is still a social stigma surrounding going to school on-line and there are programs out there that the employer will never know you went on-line. Northwestern, Duke, Boston College and many more have programs like this.
5. All distance programs give large amounts of credit for life experience. My program only allowed 10 hours of credit to be earned for life experience. In order to receive the credit you had to write a twenty plus page paper and go through several interviews. My mother’s program doesn’t give any life experience credit.
6. Degree requirements are lower in distance programs. I still needed 133 hours to graduate my program. My program was identical to a regular education program but I had fewer choices in electives. There was no slack given for it being on-line.
7. Distance programs can be finished quicker. This is definitely wrong. As stated earlier I spent more time on my distance learning classes than I ever did on my traditional classes. I completed 82 hours in a traditional setting then changed to a distance learning program after Katrina. I found that it was impossible to take more than 15 hours of distance learning classes in a semester due to the fact that there were more assignments, more readings, lectures you had to read and learn, discussion boards to complete (to replace discussion in the classroom) and scheduled chats. This actually set me back in graduating.
All distance programs are different but this is my experience with distance education and the important facts that I would pass on to anyone considering entering a distance education program.