You Get Your Degree Through Distance Learning?
Distance learning is college coursework or degree program
curriculum completed by students geographically separated
from the college or university. According to the National
Center for Education Statistics, 56 percent of
all two-year and four-year degree-granting institutions
now offer some kind of distance education. Technologies
used include a variety of teaching methods to deliver
courses: the Internet, telecourses (broadcast/video),
correspondence, or a combination of several media that
may or may not require traditional on-campus instruction.
Some colleges with distance education programs require
students to come to the campus for an orientation before
classes begin, while the remainder of the coursework
can be completed primarily through the Internet or other
Many adult students find that the opportunity for flexible
scheduling and not having to commute to the campus for
classes are the main advantages of distance learning.
However, distance education is not for every student.
Some students need the face-to-face interaction and
communication with the instructor found in traditional
programs. Although studies have shown that distance
students learn as much as and perform as well (if not
better than) students in traditional courses, the attrition
or drop-out rate for distance learners is often higher.
Distance education students need to take a more active
role in their own education, be disciplined and self-motivated
in keeping a study schedule and completing coursework,
and be able to communicate and work effectively with
the instructor and other students through technology
and other interactive environments (for example, online
discussions or group conferencing.) Taking this active
role in education helps adult students become self-directed
learners who are skilled at using or learning new technologies,
a strong advantage in the workplace.
Generally, to be successful with distance learning
a student should:
- Be self-motivated and self-directed in completing
coursework and assignments.
- Be assertive when needing to ask for assistance,
and resourceful when meeting challenges.
- Be able to communicate effectively (especially in
written communication or e-mail), and be able to work
alone in independent study or participate in group
- Be knowledgeable and comfortable with the distance
education platforms used (i.e., the Internet) and
possess the necessary technical requirements. For
example, a high speed Internet connection is recommended
for degree programs delivered online.
- Be able to prioritize work, academic, or other
responsibilities and have the time to concentrate
on the demands of college coursework.
A student's learning style is also integral to success.
Students need to understand their strengths and weaknesses
as a learner, and how they learn most effectively. For
example, many students find they are primarily a visual
learner, an auditory learner, or a kinesthetic learner:
- Visual learners learn from things they can see
(i.e., print materials such as text, illustrations,
- Auditory learners learn from things they can hear
(i.e., listening to a lecture, a speech or other sounds)
- Kinesthetic learners learn best from touching or
working with objects (i.e., performing a task or learning