Distance learning is one of the newer, trendier ways to accomplish a higher education. Colleges and universities everywhere are jumping on the proverbial bandwagon in attempt to lure students – often non-traditional students – into joining their ranks from the comfort of their own homes. The question that remains is: “Does distance learning satisfy the needs of the student?”
This is a question that can often change from student to student, class to class and school to school. This essay is written not from factual statistic, but rather from the experience of the author who has been an online student for over two years. I relay my opinions only, please accept them as such.
Distance learning, or in this example online learning, is not meant for all types of students. First and foremost, the student must exhibit loads of self-discipline. Part of the appeal of online learning is that it can be done when you have the time and the inclination to do it. There is no set class schedule stating what times and days you must attend. There is no professor to give you the evil eye if you don’t turn assignments in on time. Policing oneself is vastly the most challenging aspect to this type of learning environment. However, the benefit of logging on when you decide is easily the biggest draw of online learning. With today’s working profession this non-traditional method is often times the only feasible way to advance education.
Other aspects of distance learning are found also in traditional classroom settings. Often the individual professors have a huge impact on what the student gets from a certain class. Additionally, some schools have made a science of online learning. University of Phoenix, for example, has increased their student base exponentially by expanding to a nation-wide institution. Many other schools are beginning to follow suit, expanding from relatively small geographic areas to state- or nationwide.
In the end, institutions for higher learning are similar to most service-type industries: you often get what you pay for and the service you receive is only as good as the person supplying the immediate service.