What You Need To Know About Distance Learning

What You Need To Know About Distance Learning

The popularity of distance learning continues to soar and there’s no sign it’s slowing down. This is according to a survey of over 2,500 universities and colleges, the results of which were compiled in a 2008 report published by the Sloan Consortium. While there’s been just a 1.2% increase in total higher education student population, online enrollment increased nearly 13% over the previous year’s figures.

Among all higher education students, including those enrolled in brick-and-mortar institutions, the percentage of students taking at least one online course exceeded 20%. It seems these traditional schools are jumping on the bandwagon and offering students more opportunities to learn online.

What does this mean to you?

It means there’s never been a better time to learn online! To meet the growing demand, institutions are offering more online degree programs. And within those programs, you’ll find more variety. You’ll still find plenty of asynchronous classes to choose from, giving you complete flexibility and control over planning study schedules and completing assignments. With asynchronous classes, the emphasis is on technology, with communication taking place primarily via pre-recorded audio, video and MP3 lectures, email correspondence, message boards, and even snail mail.

However, since not everybody functions optimally in isolation, online learning is becoming more interactive. Synchronous classes offer an opportunity for instructors and students to be in different locations, but require students to log in at specific times for lectures. With synchronous learning, there’s more structure, more interaction among instructors and students, and more multimedia components such as live group chat, webinars, video conferencing, and instant messaging.

Which online learning is right for you?

Only you can decide that. And the way to decide is by researching your distance learning program options. Of primary importance is accreditation. You also want to check accessibility to the resources you’ll likely need including student advisors and career counselors. If attending a traditional institution, find out how many of the courses required for your degree can be taken online.

Lastly, ask alumni. After all, who knows better what to expect from an institution’s distance learning curriculum than someone who’s already experienced it!