College Advice Blog

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Aug 23, 2012

Maximize Your College Time: Learn About Distance Learning


Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions.”
              – John Randolph

Long Distance Learning Gaining Broad Acceptance
Time. Humans have pondered the essence of time since they started marking sunrises. About the only thing the human tribe has firmly concluded about the subject is that there never seems to be enough of it. With that in mind, it's easy to see why distance learning is quickly becoming a major venue for continuing education.

Millions around the globe are participating in distance learning programs and the numbers are expected to increase by about 25% each year. The U.S. Department of Education did a study that showed that online students typically outperformed their fellow students enrolled in traditional classroom settings.

So, adult students appear to be learning more than traditional students. As a result, businesses are becoming more accepting of online courses and online degrees. Indeed, many are even turning to online internships to cut the expense of hiring college students. With the advantages of online learning, no wonder so many students are availing themselves of this rather recent international revolution in education.

You are not meant to serve time. Time is meant to serve you. Become the master of your now.”
              – E'yen A. Gardner

Advantages Weigh Heavily with Online Learning
Called by many names – open distance learning, e-learning, web-based or internet-based learning, online learning, and a number of similar tags – distance learning boasts many time-saving advantages. Among them:
       Flexibility
– Work schedules needn't preclude distance learning.
– Family callings benefit by flexible classroom schedules.
– No child day care required.
– Class participation can be enacted at just about any time of day.
       Accessibility
– Distance from the training institution is not an issue.
– Available to those with restricted mobility (e.g., handicapped, injured, elderly).
– Computer and internet access are about all that's required to attend class.
– Comfort and convenience of familiar               environments.
– No commuting or long-distance travel.
       Just-In-Time
– Opportunity to study the most current material available.
– Concentrate time and effort on new material, access to background material.
– Studying when you want, where you want, and how you want.

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”
              – Carl Sandburg

Money for Students and Institutions Motivates Distance Learning
Around the world, online learning is more and more becoming an acceptable norm, with a huge proportion of public and private universities engaging in some form of online learning. Money is a big motivator for this educational revolution, not only for the students but also for the institutions themselves. The costs of physical plants are reduced, because of fewer classrooms and less maintenance. One professor can have access to many more students than a 100 person lecture room allows.

Economies of scale can take over, reducing the cost of tuition considerably. Some schools even have monthly pay-as-you-go plans. With distance learning students have no fees for parking permits or student unions, and no gas prices to pay for commuting nor plane tickets for longer travel, and no more wasted time on campus. Students have no worries about expenses for setting up another household, getting meal plans, or being hassled or charged for all the tiny quotidian realities necessary for an on-campus education. Financial aid opportunities exist that may not have been otherwise available.

Time is money.”
              – Benjamin Franklin

Long Distance Learning Makes it Easy to Study Abroad
Everyone is a foreigner somewhere. Because of that, getting a education in a foreign land takes on political inconveniences, such as the expense and hassle of obtaining student passports and visas. Of course, from time to time any country can experience political upheaval; distance learning students are insulated from such concerns. Because we have not mastered time travel, Timbuktu is still as far away from London as it ever was, as is New York City from Singapore. But, the distances between classrooms in those cities can be travelled as quickly as electricity through a circuit.

The wisest are the most annoyed at the loss of time.”
              – Dante Alighieri

Long Distance Learning Levels the Playing Field
The absence of direct presentation of students to professors and trainers may be an advantage. Discriminating factors such as age, dress, physical appearance, disabilities, race and gender are practically non-existent. Instead, the focus of attention is clearly on the content of the discussion and the individual's ability to respond and contribute thoughtfully and intelligently to the material at hand. So perform well, work hard, and get the due appreciation without any unreasonable favour or discrimination. Performance is the only real crucial matter.

Waste your money and you're only out of money, but waste your time and you've lost a part of your life.”
              – Michael LeBoeuf

Learning Experience Also Reflects Time Savings
Because of time saved from commuting and other drains, online learners spent more time on completing course requirements than regular students. And distance learning provides more opportunity for the online learner regarding self-reflection and self-monitoring. This seems evident in adult learners across all subject areas, regardless of courses targeted for undergraduate or graduate college work. Obtaining a degree or certification can actually take less time than the traditional manner.

The means of course delivery through the use of online technology gives students control of their actions, resulting in a positive effect on learning. This is primarily due to adult learners being more engaged in the learning process, because they have the capability to focus on strategies and resources more suited to their learning styles. Believe it or not, because of advances in technology, online school programs provide more opportunity for collaboration among students.

The future starts today, not tomorrow.”
              – Pope John Paul II

Some Pitfalls Do Exist
With all those numerous, time-saving advantages, there has to be a few short-comings. But that's it – a few. You might not be the sort of student who can continually keep yourself motivated, patient, and disciplined. You might not be good at decision making, procrastinate a lot, while following fixed schedules is a prerequisite in online programs. The limitation of courses available online in another short-coming.

Distance learning is precisely about you, the student, and the course being accustomed to you, and the other way around. Striking the balance between the two is all that's required. But once that's done, online education, a winning way to higher education, can make you, the long-distance student, a winner too.

Each moment spent on this bright blue planet is precious, so use it carefully.”
              – Santosh Kalwar

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Author the Author
Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of Open Colleges Australia and Courses for Distance Education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career. She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines. If you are interested in featuring her works in your blog, you can find her on Google+.
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