Distance learning isn’t the future, it’s the present.
With each passing year, more and more people elect to get their degrees and further their educations through online universities, schools, and programs. But aside from higher education, more and more elementary and high school students are being home schooled, which is another word for distance learning. In both cases the conventional classroom is being transplanted to a more local setting.
No more waking up early, catching the bus, or eating cafeteria food. School as we know it, at every level, has already been radically altered. The real question is what institutions will evolve and grow with the times, and which will go the way of CD stores and video rental shops.
And the bottom line is, its all about convenience. There’s no question that distance learning affords certain individuals the chance to get advanced degrees who ordinarily wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. But in every instance, on every level of education, distance learning is simply a more efficient and convenient means of education.
But therein lies the biggest pitfall people run into with distance learning. The single biggest mistake is assuming that attaining a degree online will be easy. Convenient, yes, but easy – far from it.
The term “self-starter” is used often, but usually not accurate. To get the most out of your experience with distance learning, you have to be a self starter. This is higher learning without safety nets or lifeguards. The student is given the goals, given the tools, and allowed to work in his or her own way to meet that goal.
One of the advantages of a classroom with a teacher is that there is an enforcer, constantly reminding you about upcoming assignments, expectations, and tests. This is their job, not only to educate but to make sure you are putting in the effort. With an online program, there is no enforcer. There is no one to hold your feet to the fire. There are teachers and counselors there to guide you if you seek assistance, but make no mistake, getting an advanced degree online requires personal commitment.
Being able to have completely control over your education schedule – when you study, when you post in the discussion boards, when you work on your papers – is the single greatest advantage of distance learning. But without the personal commitment to stick to a schedule, your studying will not get done. Your papers will not get written, no matter how much advanced notice you have. And your discussion board posts will seem uninformed.
This is not getting an education, this is going through the motions. And if you do not dive in and get a real education, you will not get that degree. It isn’t easy. But then again, nothing worthwhile ever is.