Distance Education: Pros and Cons of Online Study
Distance education is no more than attending school without leaving your home or place of work, getting an education without a face-to-face contact with teachers and classmates, and studying when you can, if you wish. It simply means getting an education at your own pace.
Traditionally, distance learning was getting educated through correspondence courses where schools and students corresponded only by post. Not many important subjects were offered at the time but with the advent of digital technology, hundreds of courses are offered online, and though you may live far away in Bali, you can get an undergraduate degree from a top New York college.
Many people are choosing to enrol at online schools, colleges, and universities as an alternative to attending on-campus educational institutions for many reasons, the most important ones being its cost-effectiveness and affordability.
There are several reasons why distance learning is a good alternative (with many advantages), but it is not necessarily all ‘rosy’. And though the advantages of online education far outweigh the disadvantages, the concept of attending school over the internet is not only credible but also totally acceptable.
As more well-respected institutions of higher learning now offer online classes, employers are now more accepting of online earned degrees.
With the regular addition of more courses and the current possibilities of obtaining higher qualifications like PhD and MSc, distance education is the future of education - global, seamless, cost-effective, and flexible.
Advantages of an Online Education
The flexibility of distance education gives many intending students and other individuals who really desire to further their studies the opportunity to get an education that’s not only less expensive but also more convenient. There are also those who never knew they’d have the opportunity or time to get an education. Now, they can earn a diploma, a degree, and even a master’s degree through studying online.
The pros of attending distance education colleges include:
- Saving on time and money and reduced costs – Online education costs less for several reasons, one being because there are fewer expenses to incur – no commuting, less physical books, no living expenses, and no cost of expensive school-related supplies.
- Students have access to an education anywhere and at any time, without limitations, restrictions, and location of study.
- Distance education students can work at a career and attend school because there are no schedule limitations. The self-paced study allows students to work at their own chosen pace, and classes can be 'attended' without the usual class work pressure that obtains in an on-campus school.
- A distance learning student can enrol to study from any part of the world if there is an internet connection available there. This means you can live in Timbuktu and attend college in Iceland.
- Working with a computer and learning internet skills (essential) while studying, is a valuable experience and can open up networking opportunities that can be further applied to other facets of life.
- The tuition process can be self-paced, depending on how much time a student has available for studying. So, whether a student is a slow or fast learner, a self-paced tuition process is a great advantage. A slow learner can take his/her time to learn without pressure while the fast student can virtually 'zip' through an online course in half the time.
- Physically challenged students can study from home comfortably and unobtrusively without encountering all the usual challenges they may face in an on-campus educational institution.
- There are personalized instructions from tutors and student will find this beneficial, more than if they are stuck in a classroom filled with other students. A significant factor that drives the success of distance education is that it is done through electronic media. This is the means of educational interaction between tutors and students.
Future employers will respect an online graduate's time management skills – working at a full-time job and balancing it with distance education. Many prospective employers may see this as a positive, and a great drive to both further an education and a career.
What Is Your Opinion About Distance Education?
Disadvantages of Distance Education
Now that some of the advantages of distance learning have been mentioned, it is a good thing to also state the disadvantages of studying at online colleges. Before enrolling for an online course, it is good to know that working at your own pace without some sort of self-discipline will not only stretch the duration of your study unnecessarily, your interest may wane if you are not fully dedicated to your course study.
- Online colleges don’t offer prompt and immediate feedback you get in a regular classroom setting and while performance can be assessed on the spot in a classroom, with distance education, students have to wait for the tutor’s feedback while their works are being reviewed.
- Distance education doesn't offer all courses on the web so students pursuing certain degrees may not find their courses available online. This is understandable because not all educational programs are suited for online education, for instance, you cannot study medical courses through distance learning.
- In the early years of digital distance education, many employers refused to acknowledge degrees earned online but today, as more top colleges and universities offer online study, more employers now acknowledge and recognize this form of education.
- If for instance, you live out at sea and need to receive physical study materials, you must expect to incur possible added costs. Even if internet connection is available, there may be other educational materials required for study which you need to work on or with. You may either suspend studying till you get back to shore or, have supplies delivered to you in a costly and complex manner (speedboat or helicopter).
- There are still some who will hesitate to even consider, let alone hire graduates with an online degree, but this may vary from one company to another.
- An online college that lack of accreditation is bound to impart low-quality education, so, before enrolling for an online course, it is best to check that the program is accredited. This can be verified this with the accrediting agency. This way, you ensure that the chances of a future employer not accepting an online degree is minimised.
- There is little or no face-to-face interaction with distance learning. This is something that requires getting used to.
- If you don’t exercise self-discipline, it will be almost impossible to reach your goal of earning a degree in the stipulated duration of the study. Also, if you don’t have a sense of self-direction, the chances of failure will be high.
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