The possibility of furthering one’s education has gotten a boost after distance learning was facilitated to reach more people through using the electronic medium that has more dimension when compared to the traditional way of dispensing education that had been around for a long time and was mainly dependant on snail mail. Now, anyone with Internet connection can register with the renowned universities that include Harvard to further their education through a state-of-the art distance learning system. The number of individuals and the number of fields encompass a big spectrum of professions and the age range could start from young college students that can use the system for full time learning or as a part time enhancement for what they are doing in their daytime school to adults who can juggle education with their tight work or family schedule.
The breakthrough achieved by distance learning is it is no more necessary to be physically present in a school set up to be immensely benefited from the education system. The virtual classrooms have become as close as to the real school environment and students of all age and stripes who are participating in the programs will not miss out from any vital advantage that otherwise could be had by the traditional way of attending a live classroom, where interacting with a professor and other students were the norm. Both could be handled either by email, videos, telephone, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and forums.
Many students have said the interaction with both faculty members and students comes close to the real thing that is if it does not have better advantages, such as, there is no commuting, especially for those who are working, and even the expense might be much cheaper since there is no renting and paying for expensive dorms or room and board. But the estimated median tuition fee is around $1,144 for college or university part time programs, whereas for vocational or technical programs it could cost around $218 according to a survey made for the year 2005. The other key factor that gave the distance learning the thumbs up is it can be done according to ones available time and pace. If for some reason catching up were not possible, it would not instigate starting over again where it is possible to continue exactly from where the disruption took place, with no side effects.
Nevertheless, there are a few things those who are contemplating to further their education through this system that is becoming popular fast have to make themselves familiar with. Many experts in the field have stated that the need is prevalent among many individuals to further theri education, especially among the adult population, but the key here is that the desire to continue higher education needs to be backed with unrelenting conviction and motivation. Because there is nothing that will compel the students to do their work other than a sheer determination to further their education, which means they have to motivate themselves to keep at it.
With the same token, the would be students should be prepared in advance for a lot of work that has to do with reading and assignments where writing a good amount of essays is involved. It is not at all like some might think where it is not more than watching videos in the comfort of their home. It is proven that a classroom with a professor and other students to interact with is a sure motivator, but in the world of distance learning because of the absence of live interaction it is possible to put off the work and lose interest, one of the setbacks singled out that would be students should be aware of in advance.
The other key issue to find out in advance is students should know which medium will work best for them. The applicable mediums in most cases are satellite delivery, Internet, video, audio, or print, which means some might excel as visual or auditory learners, whereas some will be better off dealing with material that is in print. Sometimes the subject matter might require to choose one particular medium over the others, which leads to the fact that if there is a medium mismarriage, the outcome could be affected.
There is also a personal discipline concern where certain characteristic traits like procrastinating do not go with distance learning, because for the most part, there might not be enough time for those who are working unless some kind of discipline is introduced. Some students who are working have stated that they have to use most of their weekend for studying where instead they would have preferred to rest or spend time with the family. Unless it is possible to introduce such a discipline in scheduling one’s spare time, it is possible to fall behind with the workload.
The other important quality required in distance learning is multi tasking where activities like watching a favorite TV program should be put aside for watching lectures or working on assignments, but totally avoiding some of the favorite pastimes also is not recommended, which means organizing one’s time is very essential to show good result.
It is not only that, doing a lot of research about the establishments one is planning to enroll into is recommended before jumping the wagon of any of the establishments that are promising a distance learning success story as long as the distance learners are willing to enroll. The fact that the stigma of getting a degree from distance learning without attending a daytime college or university is also disappearing. What attests to this fact is universities like Harvard are putting their weight behind the system and employers are enrolling their workers into distance learning programs and are footing the bills.
Yet, there are red flags to look out for so that all the money and time invested is not wasted on the wrong products. One first step is to find out if the establishment involved is accredited since there are organizations that accredit learning establishments and had been doing it for years. If a learning establishment is not in such a list, it means that whatever it is offering would not be recognized by employers or other similar learning establishments that have put together these accrediting establishments to help them evaluate the quality of education each establishment is giving, and when the need to do more work or furthering education is required it is possible to encounter rejection.
Track record is also important even if there will always be new entrants. Making sound judgement depends on what the reason behind distance learning is, because it could be difficult to put down an establishment in a nutshell simply because it is new. The other key thing experts had touched on is whenever the admission process is easy the drive of the involved establishment could be money-making only, and some think that could be a red flag where further examination of the situation is recommended.
Once we started touching on the money aspect of the undertaking, those that are out to make a hoard of money without providing good education and service could also raise the red flag and one way of telling that could be if the number of students allocated to one professor seems to be unmanageable, where obviously the interaction with the students could be limited, which means even in the virtual sense, classroom size counts.
The way courses are presented might make or break the whole arrangement and those renowned establishments could also fall into this crack, because the way the courses are presented might not be effective as far as the learning aspect is concerned. When establishments are new for distance learning, because they have to learn with trial and error, any one caught in this unfortunate transition stage could suffer a setback. Also most new establishments might not have the right kind of ties with other learning establishments and it will take them a while to come up with a working system. Consequently consulting professional societies and accrediting establishments about a stand of a given learning establishment is the recommendation and saves time and money.
Sometimes questioning the qualification of the faculty members is also recommended and if there is anything lacking it will affect the distance learners. It is also important at the same time to examine the level of the interaction between the distance learners and the faculty members as it is vital because of the prevalence of material that will require further clarifications, and if the qualification of the staff is not par with what is required, what will suffer a setback is the most vital segment of the system simply because the required know how is not in place.
The quality of the service given for the most part depends on the amount of tuition fee charged and finding the best offer with what the distance learners are willing to pay is important, because if there are many essential components missing from the service and programs offered, either because of the lower tuition fee or they simply do not have them, it will eventually affect the quality of the education attained. One good way of solving this problem is by getting hold of current or graduated students and ask them about what they got or are getting from the service and the education they already got. Chat rooms, forums, and bulletin boards would facilitate this probing.
Other than that, this new learning revolution that was availed mostly by the coming into the picture of the Internet has introduced a considerable change on how education is delivered and the number of students that are enrolled is in the millions. Most of all, an almost full fledged participation of employers in various fields has made the new system the better choice for many, and a big number of individual who would have not thought of getting a higher education are getting it now at their own pace and time.