Online Education - The Advantages and Disadvantages of Distance Learning Programs

Published: 18th January 2008
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Distance learning programs are sweeping the nation with more students enrolling every term. There are many advantages to online distance learning courses. With the ease of scheduling and the computerized environment of a distance learning school come some disadvantages as well. Before you sign up for distance learning courses, here are some things you should consider.

A better focus and concentration is a huge advantage of distance learning programs. Wasted time commuting and the distractions of listening to lectures amidst a group of shuffling people are gone. Distance learning courses can be worked on when the time is right and when the student can sit down to fully direct his or her attention to the course material.

Everyone in an online classroom gets a chance to contribute. Many times, students grouped in traditional classrooms are reluctant to raise their hand to either ask or answer a question. In a room full of fellow students, pressure to avoid embarrassment is high. With distance learning programs, students are able to think through a question carefully and can post the answer online to the distance learning school website or message board, when they are ready to do so.

Being taught online leaves very little room for cheating or slacking off. As with live classrooms, quizzes and exams through distance learning programs are timed. Through discussion boards of the distance learning school, it is easy to tell whether or not a student understands the ideas in a lesson. There is actually little chance for people to get by unnoticed while competing a distance learning course.

With online courses, there is no such thing as a 7 am class. There is no driving across town and having to hunt down a parking spot that is close to campus. Distance learning programs give students the ease of learning at their own pace and at their own convenience. Students can study their distance learning course in the comfort of their own home.

With that being said, working at home can have its own set of distractions. The sound of the television, the telephone, or the noise coming from kids or pets can be major distractions. Working online can also lead to temptation of doing something more fun, such as chatting via instant messaging or surfing the web. It may not apply to every student, but things like browsing can take out a chunk of time in your day that could have been used towards your distance learning program.

Distance learning courses involve independent learning, with very little physical contact with the teacher or other students. Everything must be done on your own. Taking online classes from a distance learning school usually means things like study groups are nonexistent, due mostly to time or distance constraints. While some students thrive on working independently, other students find difficulty in going at it alone.

When a student has a problem while working on homework or on an exam, the student taking a distance learning course can directly ask a teacher for help. With distance learning programs, though, the teacher and students may not be together at the same time, meaning that an instructor cannot give a student immediate feedback and must communicate differently.

Distance learning programs are taught through a computer and a student must uphold a minimum level of computer knowledge. Knowing just the basics of computer technology is usually not enough for a student to excel within an online class.

With certain distance learning courses, reading material and discussion boards alone are not enough for students to understand a concept. Especially in classes such as math, it may take several examples explained by the instructor until a student finally understands the idea. Because of this, many students find distance learning programs difficult.

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