Distance Learning a Growing Trend

written by Jennifer McGibbon printed in UC411.com August 12 , 2003

With society changing at a constant speed, one thing remains steady: Our need and desire to learn.

Although the classroom is viewed as a traditional setting for learning, it too is changing and evolving at lightning speed. With a growing population continual technological advances and the constant demand for a valuable education, these institutions must continue to provide the materials to meet these changes. Even though it has existed for some time, a growing trend is distance education, as it is quickly becoming an integral part if the learning experience at all levels of higher education. Distance education has traditionally been referred to as correspondence, whereby the student completes the course by mail form another town or city other than that in which the school is located. The student is supplied with the necessary materials – books, tapes ore videos – and it is up to them to complete assignments by the deadline.

The appeal of distance education is that the student is allowed to complete the course at their own pace on their own schedule. This is an excellent option for someone who already works, likes flexible. Schedules or is located in a rural area. The student has the choice of completing a few courses, perhaps out of interest or as a stepping stone for their career. With the growing number of accredited institutions, there are numerous opportunities available to students wishing to enrich their lives with a certificate, diploma, or degree. The newest trend to hit the distance education scene is the virtual classroom, or distance education online. This has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for students.

Many schools are now offering distance education courses online, with students receiving all course materials and grades as well as handing in assignments, communicating with professors/instructors or chatting with fellow students over the internet. It is also easier for student's to access their instructor for clarification about assignment, grades, or questions about their courses. From an international perspective, distance education online now gives pupils a chance to easily study at school in other countries. Canadian and international pupils now have the chance to explore each others education systems without the hassle of acquiring a student visa or incurring expensive travel costs.

A few tips to think about before perusing distance education:
  • Students should be self disciplined and motivated and should make sure they have the available time during the week to complete the work.
  • Research your institution before enrolling; make sure it's accredited so you know your certificate, diploma, or degree will be recognized upon completion.
  • If you are taking this program as a requirement for a job, make sure your current or potential place of employment will recognize your certificate upon competition.
  • Ask others who have already take your course or another program from the same institution about their experience with the program or school.
  • Ask yourself what level of involvement you would like from your instructor or other students. Perhaps interaction or accessibility are not important, but if they are, ensure these resources are provided by your school.
With the number of students who now seek a post-secondary education, this option offers them a unique opportunity to learn in a new environment. Some students may choose to complete their education with a combination of online and classroom programs, while others may choose 100 percent online.