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Distance learning is becoming a popular first choice for prospective students

Distance learning can no longer be considered the preserve of working adults with many younger students now actively choosing this route. At one time distance learners were considerably older than the general population of students with online courses appealing most strongly to mid-career professionals. Recent years have however seen a rise in registrations from younger students which suggests that distance learning is becoming the preferred learning method for students of all ages.

Here are the three main reasons why prospective students are drawn towards this path of learning.

The dawn of the internet
Technological advances have succeeded in reshaping the educational experience for distance learners. New technology such as virtual lectures and interactive forums have enabled distance learning to establish itself as a dynamic learning model. Students can make video calls to their tutors or ask written questions, which suggests that distance learning can offer as much as face-to-face teaching. Students from all over the globe can enrol onto online learning courses as there are no geographical or time constraints. The growth of social media allows us to remain more connected than ever and has therefore eradicated the distance in the distance learning. With the availability of countless online communities and resources, it is now possible for all distance learners to interact and support one another.

Learn while you earn
Online learning is an appealing choice for cost-conscious students who want further education and good return on their investment. Increased tuition fees and living expenses mean that full-time university is not a viable option for all, whereas distance learning courses can cost as little as a fifth of the price of conventional university courses. Distance learning courses offer flexible payment options where you can pay as you study in monthly instalments which means that students can keep on top of the costs. This type of learning can give students the chance to learn and work at the same time which provides them with the opportunity to remain financially stable and gain work experience to boost their future career prospects.

Convenience and flexibility
The flexibility of distance learning makes it distinctive as students can fit their studying around their life. Many young students are attracted to this style of learning as they are given the freedom to study at their own convenience and pace. They can choose where and when they study – this is a flexibility which is hard to match. This is particularly valuable to those who cannot commit three years to a conventional university degree as they can shape the distance learning programme to suit their lifestyle.

How to be a good online learner

With conventional education becoming more demanding and an array of online learning courses now being made available, more and more students are opting for the route of e-learning. In contrast to a regular education, this route is often presented as a more flexible and viable option due to not being confined to a classroom or timetable. However, online learning is still a commitment to education and requires you to possess certain characteristics in order to ensure the best results. 

Which characteristics should you have to be a good online learner?

  • Self-motivation. Without the constant presence of teachers or your peers, there is often nobody around to motivate you or ensure that you are on schedule. Online learning requires you to co-ordinate your own time and therefore means that you need to be self-disciplined enough to adhere to your schedule. It can be easy to fall behind if you are not consistently motivated. You need to be setting goals and ensuring that you are planning your time wisely. You are accountable for your time and therefore must be self-motivated.
  • Be focused. Whilst online learning allows you to choose and work in your own environment, you are not in an educational setting which can often make it difficult for your mind to remain focused or feel as if it is ready to work. This can quickly lead to procrastination or becoming distracted. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are focused and determined enough not to give in to distractions. It also means that you need to create a work environment and maintain concentration.
  • Good reading and writing skills. Traditional education heavily relies on classroom discussion and student participation to explain and understand concepts and ideas. However, with online learning courses, students will be communicating through email or discussion boards. Instead of being able to ask questions in class, you will have to convey your thought process in text. Therefore, it is essential to be able to write to deliver your ideas and questions because this is going to be your main source of communication. Online learning also relies on students learning concepts through reading and it is therefore crucial to be able to obtain and understand information from text.

How will online learning benefit you?

Aside from convenience and being more suitable for your lifestyle, online learning also has many other advantages such as not restricting you to institutions within your geographic location. It also allows you to choose when you are going to study and therefore makes it possible to prioritise.

Learning can also be more effective, for example through teaching yourself concepts, you are more likely to both absorb and retain information. Therefore, when later reading material, your mind will make the association between the concepts that you may have taught yourself earlier. In fact, teaching yourself allows you to learn at your own pace and not move on until you are satisfied with your comprehension. In traditional education, teachers are often explaining to an entire class and there is no time to ensure that each student has developed the full understanding required. Therefore, with online learning you are able to grasp content and therefore excel in assignments and exams.

Online learning is the way forward, and although it may require certain characteristics to succeed, it is still more customisable than traditional education and will therefore continue to increase in popularity.