Distance learning education is clearly the way of learning for the 21st century. It goes way beyond mere correspondence, textbook and paper learning. Distance learning programs has become very high tech, using mutimedia, specialized audio and visual software and online forums. And it fits many people’s lifestyles. Not having to worry about commuting to campus or attending a fixed time that disrupts your neat schedule, you can learn at your own pace, whenever you like, in the comfort of your own home, the park, or wherever else. Seems perfect right? Not for everyone. In many ways student learning through distance education is even more difficult than the traditional classroom-teacher routine and many students drop out entirely, don’t complete the courses, or take a lot longer to finish their education.
Here’s why distance learning education isn’t right for everyone, despite its convenience.
*It’s too convenient. Not having fixed schedules like regular courses makes it far too easy for less disciplined students to constantly postpone course work to do other, higher priority tasks. By the time students do get around to their at home academic work, days or even months may have gone by. Some students can’t pick up after the slack and drop out altogether.
*There is little face to face interaction. Even though tons of courses are media based and permit some student interaction, human contact is a necessity for extroverted students who work well in groups or in teams and need to bond with their peers and verbally exchange answers, opinions and ideas. Some students work better independently but others don’t have the intrinsic motivation to work alone. The lack of human contact between students can make the program more boring and act as a disincentive for study, so some students cease the program.
*There is no one to clarify confusing material. Some subjects require explanation and students need guidance when learning some types of material. The home based learning option means you work independently and figure most things out on your own. There often is a tutor available, but an explanation over email or chat is less efficient than a face to face one. Some students become frustrated with difficult material and lack of help, so they stop studying.
*People have different learning styles and multiple intelligences. Some people learn easily and retain material by reading on their own, and some people learn through listening to lectures or repeating things constantly in discussion. People who are auditory or tactile (kinesthetic) learners can have a more difficult time with distance learning, so they don’t complete the courses.
Distance education is a great learning option that fits many people’s lifestyles and schedules. But it isn’t suitable for all learners and all types of subject material. Before enrolling in a distance learning course ask yourself the following questions:
*Am I independent enough to create a fixed daily study time and stick to it?
*Is listening to other people’s ideas or expressing my own important?
*If I don’t know the answer, am I comfortable not having an instructor to turn to?
*How do I learn best, and does this course’s format use methods that are conducive to my learning?