Distance learning is an educational delivery system whereby students gain access to the educational experience remotely via a computer connection at home or from some location other than a traditional classroom. It should not be confused with the concept of the correspondence courses of days gone by where unsuspecting consumers were lured into parting with their money from the back of a matchbook cover promising the opportunity to “learn everything you need to know at home to earn a good income.” Thanks to the advances brought to education and society with the advent of the internet, any determined student can connect themselves with a reputable educational facility and work towards a rewarding degree and simply pursue courses for personal enrichment.
While still a relatively new concept, distance learning has already begun to reveal its strengths in the educational arena and in the workplace as well. For any potential student seeking to increase the spectrum of their education, the advantages are clear.
1) Time constraints are minimized in the distance learning environment. A student has the option to login to the virtual classroom at a time most convenient to his schedule and responsibilities. This eliminates the need to arrive at a specific place at a pre-determined time one or more days each week to attend class. For people with rich, full lives and many obligations to fulfill this alone is a huge advantage.
2) Just as a student can login to the classroom according to their personal schedule, they also have the advantage of taking a little extra time to absorb the classroom lecture material. If a concept is difficult to grasp, the student can review the lecture and class notes for that week as much as is needed to understand the material before moving on to master the next level of information.
3) In spite of what the critics might say, distance learning can, and does, provide the opportunity for one on one learning between the student and the instructor. Through chat rooms, live web access time and online office appointments, students can pose questions and discuss concepts with the instructor who is able to focus undivided attention on a particular student.
4) Distance learning is “green” learning at its finest. By eliminating brick and mortar classrooms, school districts and taxpayers save money on new building construction, the energy consumption needed to heat and light those buildings and the transportation costs associated with transporting both teacher and student from home to an educational facility every day.
5) Distance learners, in order to succeed, must become the masters of their own destiny. They can progress at their own rate of speed, neither held back by slower students in the traditional classroom nor left behind by being situated in a classrom where the other students are excelling. Since they are beyond the grasp of the traditional instructor, they carry an added burden of being self-directed and self-motivated.
6) Distance learning is up to the minute, relevant education. Traditional classrooms with their traditional textbooks are often outdated and one step behind the fast paced speed of the world today. Distance learners who are accessing their coursework and reading material via the internet are able to source the latest changes and advances in knowledge on a particular subject as it occurs.
7) Distance learning opens the door of education to far more people than any other learning platform. Busy adults with family responsibilities, jobs and bills to pay are now able, some for the first time in their lives, to enter the educational arena and work towards improving their skills, learning new ones and expanding their educational backgrounds in a way that will enrich their lives forever.