Distance learning is often the ideal solution for students who don’t have the money for tuition through a traditional university or for those witch schedules that simply cannot accommodate going to classes and commuting to and from campus. Although distance education has been around for some time, it was often seen as little more than a ‘correspondence school’, one that didn’t quite measure up when compared to degrees earned at a bricks and mortar university. The advent and widespread use of the Internet, however, has done a lot to change this perception and now a degree earned online can easily compare to more traditional options. But is it the right choice for you?
Distance education began in the 1840s, when Sit Isaac Pitman offered a course in shorthand through the mail. The success of the course spawned a number of similar courses which were offered by correspondence and, later, on records and over the radio. The popularity of long distance education became so popular over the years that, in England, the government developed The Open University which offered lessons through the mail and lectures broadcast on television.
Although distance education offers a number of benefits and makes education more accessible, there are some serious drawbacks. Since course work can be completed and lectures watched according to each student’s own schedule, this puts increased responsibility on their shoulders. Students must be able to motivate themselves and dedicate the time and energy the courses require. This kind of self-discipline can be difficult for many and, as a result, has resulted in a higher than average drop out rate when compared to students at traditional universities.
The responsibilities for independent students may be greater, but the evolution of online options have helped students to engage more fully. Online lectures, group study sessions and the ability to video chat and collaborate on larger products with students has given more structure to distance education which, many believe, could lead to a greater level of success for at home students.
Learning online has made it easier than ever for students to access education easily and affordably. Many traditional universities are now expanding their own course offerings to include online options. The added responsibility of independent learning, however, makes it an option only for those with skills in studying, time management and organization. For those who are able to meet these demands, however, distance education offers a way to improve their education, advance their career and get the degree they’ve always wanted.