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5 Key Benefits of Distance Learning

5 Key Benefits of Distance Learning

Online distance learning was the preferred method of learning for thousands of  students, even before the pandemic forced it onto all students. Distance learning has evolved from its beginnings to more high-tech methods. Nowadays, distance-learning employs new technologies like video conferencing platforms, online message boards, and digital document sharing. Besides the technological improvements, distance learning has other distinct advantages outlined in this article. Many students, even before Covid, found e-learning online education convenient, flexible, even cheaper than taking regular, in-person classes. But there are many other benefits that you may want to consider if you are thinking about benefits of distance learning.

Flexibility

For many online learners, the fact that they can avoid things like daily commutes, rigid class schedules, and mandatory attendance is a big draw. Online learners typically choose distance learning because of other important commitments in their life like work and family. They still want to learn and earn a new degree, which makes online learning the more attractive option.

Online classes have schedules too, but they are more flexible depending on the program that students are taking. One thing that online learning is famous for is synchronous and asynchronous learning. The former means attending a virtual lecture or seminar while it’s happening in real-time, which can be done through a video-sharing platform or live stream.

Asynchronous learning, however, is learning on your own time, which can mean you watch that lecture or seminar as a recording whenever you have the chance to do so. These two methods form the basis of online learning, as it’s an option not granted to regular, full-time students who must always attend class.

Affordability

Cost is a major concern for students who wish to go to college or a university in the United States. If you do not have the resources or a scholarship, taking out student loans is the only other option, which is, in itself, a huge gamble. In 2021, the amount of outstanding student debt in the US reached $1.7 trillion, and the amount owed by students, even those who have completed their degrees, continues to grow.

The exorbitant costs of higher education are one of the reasons people choose to take their education online. Not only do distance students save on tuition fees, but also on the peripheral expenses associated with attending school like transportation, housing, and food costs. Learning from home eliminates those costs, while still granting students a quality e-learning online education.

Quality

There is a stereotype that online education e-learning is of lower quality than regular in-person learning. But that stereotype is countered by the fact that thousands of students continually enroll in online classes and that number has only risen since the mid-2010s. But it is important to distinguish between which students benefit from online learning and those who might be better served in a classroom.

The pandemic drove everyone from the classroom at every level of education. Elementary and high-school students, who never experienced online learning, had to adjust to the virtual classroom with mixed results. Many students struggled with disciplinary issues as well as a lack of resources.

High-speed internet and malfunctioning online applications only made adapting that much more difficult. Students, parents, and teachers struggled to maintain a sense of normalcy during the lockdowns. There were exceptions. Some students became invested in their learning and took more initiative to keep up with their classes.

The sudden transition to online learning for many elementary and secondary school students was tough, but older students, university, and continuing education students continue to manage. They are accustomed to online elements in education and did not have a hard time completing coursework or learning from online classes.

Personal Growth

Online education, or any education for that matter, is an opportunity for you to better your lot in life. There is the tangible benefit of earning a degree and raising your earning potential as well as improving your employment prospects. But online education, while it eliminates many obstacles, still has its challenges.

Students must be disciplined and invest in their education, which may require major attitude and personality changes. Those who may have not been so keen to learn when they were attending classes in person must now take charge of their education to succeed. There are no teachers to guide, or goad, you into completing your work.

There are also no other students who can motivate you or even compete with you to keep your learning instincts sharp. This means that students must not only deal with their coursework but their idleness and restlessness to stay on top of their studies. The qualities they develop while learning online—like time management, organization, and self-discipline—can also become important skills to have when looking for a job.

Networking

It may seem counterintuitive, but there are many opportunities to establish new friendships and professional relationships while doing online learning. Many online learners forget that even though they are taking classes virtually, they are not the only ones in the “class”. Even when not exclusively online, students who take a mix of both virtual and in-person classes often reach out to one another for help, advice, and support.

Many in-person classes also have online elements that include message boards and chat rooms exclusive to that particular class. Along with these communication tools, students also often share their emails and other contact information as a way to increase their support network and also to engage in social activities outside the virtual classroom.


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by Brian Perry // Brian Perry is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.