Distance learning is big business. If you check the internet you can find all kinds of courses on almost any subject you like offered by distance learning providers. However, there are pros and cons to distance learning.
The pros are that it is easy to study in your own time and at your own pace. Many distance learning companies offer well qualified tutors who give a lot of good advice and many offer accredited courses, leading to certificates which are recognised professionally. Distance learning courses often also provide the chance to delve into a subject which you have an interest in but do not want to take professionally. Distance learning is easy with internet access or by post and the materials are usually well presented and understandable. The level you study at and the time you take is often down to you.
However, there are some cons to distance learning and it is important to recognise them from the start.
Firstly, the distance learning provider must be professional and it can be difficult to asess this by reading their blurb. Many promise well qualified tutors, already working in your field of study but how do you check this? Many offer ‘accredited’ certificates but again, who accredits them and how do you know it will be recognised in your profession? Many offer money back guarantees if you are not satisfied but in the small print you may only have a few days to return the course material in good condition and unopened, which is almost impossible. Many show statements from past students on their web sites but how do you know if these are genuine?
You can check distance learning providers by asking them to supply information about your tutor and then checking them out for yourself on the internet or looking at books they say they have written. You can check the accreditation with the body they say it is from such as QCF, AQUA or orther professional accreditation boards. Ask to be put in contact with a past student and contact them to verify they got what they wanted from the course and found the tutoring up to scratch. Any distance learner provider worth their salt will have no problem providing the information and will not mind if you check out their materials and certificates before you pay your money and start the course.
Make sure too that they provide a proper guarantee with no catches. Many offer your money back if you take one module and then decide the course is not right for you. They will ask for the material back to avoid you simply getting the entire course for free but most understand that until you see the course materials, it can be difficult to really know if it is right for you.
Speak to the company before you pay any money and do not just rely on the information in the web pages. Face to face conversation can yield so much more than quantified statements on a website so always make sure you can contact them easily. Also, make sure your tutor is accessible and not just a name to you. They will be being paid for their services so make sure they are worth your while taking the course. No matter how good the course notes are, your tutor will act as your guide through modules and examinations.
For some distance learning subjects, it is impossible to complete the entire certificate process at a distance because there are practical elements and you should ensure that you will be guided how to make arrangments for these if necessary.
Distance learning offers a different learning experience from that of attending college and it can fit into a lifestyle very easily but make a few inquiries, check the facts and speak to them and others before you start. Then, you will go in with open eyes , an idea of what to expect and what is expected from you and the whole experience should be really positive.