Distance Education is the system that delivers education to students who are not able to go to a campus. It is characterized by its well designed and clearly structured self-instructional materials available for students wherever they are. Considering that these are mature working people, such material serves in enhancing learning abilities apart from improving their professional skills.
Distance education has become an increasingly popular way for colleges to provide access to their programs and for students to learn about topics and get degrees they might not otherwise be able to pursue.
Distance learning occurs when there is a separation between the instructor and the student, usually due to geographical or time concerns that prevent the student from attending an on-campus course. Often, electronic means are used to bridge this gap and distribute educational material though distance learning programs using printed and mailed material. These programs have usually been specially designed to help best meet the needs and requirements that arise when learning is taking place outside of a traditional classroom setting.
Distance learning makes it much easier for some students to complete a degree or get additional job-training while balancing work and family commitments. Because the hours when class work can be completed are flexible, as most distance learning programs allow students to work at their own pace and on their own time, many students can complete their work during times when they are free, rather than scheduling their lives around a set classroom time. With more flexibility comes more responsibility on the part of the learner. Students must learn to work well independently and without the constant guidance and monitoring of an instructor, making distance learning a challenge for those who are not easily self-motivated.
As distance education has evolved from basic forms of correspondence education which started many decades ago. It has got some differences as well.
Correspondence courses were written as normal class room texts would have been written and this was mostly delivered by mail. But distance education uses multiple media such as print, audio, video etc. and disseminated through the latest electronic forms of communication. Such changes have brought about the virtual University - a concept that has become a reality.
Study programs are wholly available on-line through the Internet, or through CD-ROM computer managed educational packages. However, this has not taken away from the need for well produced print material.
Distance learning programs allow for increased access to learning and encourage life-long learning.
Distance learning does not require commuting. This saves you money and time that you’d otherwise spend on travel back and forth to school. You can schedule learning around other aspects of your personal and professional life.
You can complete most of the classes at your convenience. Most of the classes are asynchronous, which means you don’t have to attend a lecture at a particular time and place. You can review the assignments and do your homework during off-hours or from home.
One of the biggest distance learning benefits is the issue of flexibility and time. Because students are not confined to a classroom for a certain number of hours on a given day, they can approach their coursework with flexibility and complete lessons when it suits their schedule.
Live anywhere, study from anywhere while pursuing the education of your choice. You don't have to live in the same city or the same country to attend the learning institution of your choice. You can study wherever you have access to a computer and Internet connection.
Gain extra knowledge. You can transfer the computer and Internet skills that you'll gain in the process of your distance learning experience to other facets of your life.
Self-paced learning for slow and quick learners. This reduces stress and increases satisfaction.
Online classes address physical accessibility issues that some people with limited mobility encounter when taking traditional classes. You don’t have to worry about gaining access to a classroom or sitting on uncomfortable desks. Instead, you can use your comfortable furniture in your home while enjoying free movement and a chance to further your education.
Distance learning allows students to choose from a wider pool of academic institutions for their ongoing learning including on-shore colleges.
Distance learning colleges enjoy better marketability, which means that more students can ultimately attend them.
Distance learning also allows for increased compensation and promotion potential.
Another benefit of distance learning to students is the ability to do interactive teamwork between groups (very much required in the virtual world now). Students have the opportunity to correspond with others from different backgrounds and to hear from a variety of speakers from around the world.
Students have access to experts and tremendous volume of online databases, which are also distance learning benefits. Instead of searching for hours through card catalogs and library stacks, students can utilize online search engines to find countless experts' articles and research databases within seconds.
Instructor communication is an additional distance learning benefit. With the evolution of email and Internet chat rooms, instructor-student contact can be maintained and strengthened. This fosters a better educational experience for the distance learning student.
The use of email can allow you to send your homework assignment to your professor at any time of day-safely and conveniently.
Your distance learning professor can securely allow you to take an exam without the need for attending a traditional classroom miles away. The use of local proctors to monitor the examination process can make the benefit of distance learning even more appealing. Many distance learning institutions require the use of proctors to maintain their accreditation.
Financial benefits of distance learning exist as well. Without the need to leave your home to spend a semester or a year in a distant city, you can substantially save on transportation, housing, and food costs. It goes without saying that you can keep your full or part-time job, too, when you matriculate to a distance learning institution.
There are also social benefits to distance learning. Without having to leave your community, you can maintain your personal, cultural, and social lifestyle. Your circle of comfort is maintained, reducing additional stress, as you pursue your degree.