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pros cons and considerations of
Distance learning, as with any academic course, comes with advantages and disadvantages.
Before embarking on a distance learning program, it is important to think carefully and research to
ensure that you end up with an education that fulfils your personal career goals and needs.
This article summarises some of the experiences and challenges, good and bad, that you are
likely to encounter whilst studying with a distance learning program compared to a traditional
Distance Learning - the Pro's
Choice. Modern technology and the internet have opened the doors to a range of choice in
education that could previously not have been envisaged. Even if you live in an isolated rural
community, with no local bricks and mortar colleges, distance learning allows you to select from
a wide variety of schools. From a specialised college for your field of study, to a reputable school
providing a great all-round education, your options for education are greatly widened with
Reduced cost. Distance learning courses online are generally less expensive than equivalent
programs in a bricks and mortar establishment. Add-in the savings on travel, accommodation,
meals and all the other associated costs and home study will save you significant amounts of
Work while you learn. Home study and distance learning courses usually make it easier to
earn while you learn as a flexible schedule enables you to choose when you study. A job
provides, not only welcome income, but also gives you invaluable experience and a stable
foundation from which to focus on your education.
No travelling. Learning from home saves both time and money by removing the cost and grind
of daily commuting. Distance learning often allows students to work from home to complete
classes and assignments which cuts out the need to travel to and from class.
Flexibility. The flexibility to set your own schedule is perhaps the greatest advantage of
distance learning and home study. Modern technology allows students to complete course work
from anywhere with a computer and the internet. Students can work when and where it is
convenient rather than jamming scheduled classes into busy lives with family, work and all the
other commitments facing us in the modern world.
Distance Learning - the Con's
Employers don't always recognise distance learning qualifications. As distance learning
becomes more popular, more employers are recognising distance learning qualifications on a
par with traditional higher education courses. However, there are still employers who do not
value distance learning and home study qualifications as highly. It is important to ensure that
your chosen distance learning course provides a recognisable qualification that carries enough
weight for your chosen field or future learning path.
Home and independent study is not ideal for all learners. If you are aware that you struggle
with motivation, task avoidance or tend to require lots of individual support, you may not be
ideally suited to home study. If you recognise that your personality and character may be a
hindrance to home study, you may want to carefully consider whether a classroom setting may
bring the best from you.
Less social contact. Although you are likely to experience social contact through online chat
rooms, webinars, discussion boards, email and e-learning environments with most distance
learning programs, the experience will be obviously different from traditional classroom based
learning. If the classroom is the aspect of learning you enjoy most, you should think carefully
about whether home study is the best format for you to get the most from your next higher
Demands a willingness to embrace new technology. The nature of distance learning and
online courses means that you will spend a significant amount of time on the computer and will
almost certainly need to familiarise yourself with new online software and systems. If you cringe
at the prospect of having to use unfamiliar software, you may not get as much from an online
course as a student who is tech-savvy.
As with any academic course, distance learning has particular considerations that need some
thought and research to be sure that this path, with its many advantages, is right for you. Although
your needs and circumstances are unique, here are a few questions that most people should
think about when choosing a distance learning program or home study courses:
Do I enjoy independent study and have the motivation and commitment to work to my own
Would I prefer the face-to-face contact and social interaction of the classroom?
Does the distance learning course lead to a recognisable qualification that will be accepted by
employers or for future learning?
Am I open to, and willing to learn, new software and technologies to complete the distance