The Pros and Cons of Distance Learning


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“The Pros and Cons of Distance Learning” puts forth the advantages as well as the drawbacks of online and distance learning. The article is intended to help students decide whether or not online education is an ideal fit for them.

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The Pros and Cons of Distance Learning

  1. 1. The Pros and Cons of Distance LearningAccording to a 2010 survey of online learning conducted by the Sloan Consortium, enrollments inonline programs rose by almost one million compared to just a year earlier, representing thelargest-ever year-on-year increase. ( fact that so many people are opting for online programs over regular classroom-basededucation might suggest that there’s some merit to this mode of learning. And for some students,there’s a great deal to be gained: Whether it’s a much-wanted promotion at work or a career shiftyou’re looking for, distance learning programs can help you achieve your objectives withoutthrowing your current lifestyle off balance.But distance education is not for everyone. The following are some distance learning pros andcons to help you decide whether or not online education makes sense for you.The Pros of Distance LearningFlexibility: Since distance learning programs don’t require you to be physically present in aclassroom or follow a predefined timetable, you are free to set your own schedule. Distanceeducation provides you the flexibility to complete your coursework from anywhere, at any time,and at your own pace. Have an important chore to run in the morning? No problem—log in tocomplete your schoolwork that afternoon or later that night.Learn and Earn: Many students who take online classes are full-time professionals looking to getahead in their careers by completing undergrad or graduate degree programs. But even if you’renot currently working full-time, distance learning courses offer you a flexible schedule that allowsyou to learn and earn at the same time, so that you can attend school plus hold down a regularjob and pay your way through college.No Geographical Boundaries: Since you can complete a distance-learning course fromanywhere, you are not bound by geography. You can choose any school that offers the programyou want, no matter where it’s located—anywhere in the country, or even internationally. Plus, ifyou ever relocate, you don’t have to worry about transferring to another school.Economical: There may not be a lot of difference in tuition and fees when you compare onlineand traditional degrees, but distance education actually turns out to be more economical. Yousave on costs like fuel, parking, books, child care, and more. And since so many of theseprograms are self-paced, they can offer you the opportunity to graduate in less time than atraditional program. Less time spent in college equals lower educational costs.Technologically Savvy: Distance-learning programs make use of sophisticated technology toimpart education. By accessing study material electronically, submitting assignments viawebsites, and participating on online forums to interact with professors and classmates on a day-to-day basis, distance learning students can become more technologically savvy than theirclassroom counterparts.The Cons of Distance LearningPerception of Quality: Despite its popularity and growth, the quality and validity of distanceeducation is often questioned. The biggest reason for this prejudice against distance learning isthe presence of online “diploma mills” that hand out fake degrees. The only way to beat this biasis to make sure you earn your online degree from a properly accredited institution.Lack of Interaction: Many students consider the lack of interaction—both student-student andstudent-professor—one of the biggest disadvantages of distance learning. Online classes can
  2. 2. make them feel isolated, and they may find it difficult to form long-lasting relationships with theirclassmates or establish a rapport with their instructors.Self-Directed Learning: Distance learning is primarily self-directed. This may not work very wellfor the students who need more instruction and supervision from their professors, particularly forthe more complex parts of their coursework. Self-directed learning can make a student a self-starting and independent learner, but it’s not for everyone.Temptation to Procrastinate: The temptation to procrastinate can be immense when it comes toonline education, as you are on a self-imposed schedule. Therefore a student needs to befocused, disciplined, and motivated to complete a distance learning program.Campus Life: By taking classes online, students do miss out on the activities associated withcampus life. From cultural events to inter-college games, from prom nights to graduation,distance learning students don’t get to experience the spirit of college. But some studentsconsider that a small price to pay for getting the quality education that may have otherwise beenbeyond their reach.