About Distance Learning

This unique environment is not ideal for all students, and it’s better to determine
now if it’s not for you rather than at midterm. Consider the following desirable qualities
in a distance learning student. 

Why are you considering a distance learning course?

If you’re juggling a job, taking care of a family, pursuing your education and trying
to maintain a semblance of a life, then the flexibility afforded by distance learning
could be a huge plus for you. However, distance learning courses are not “easier”
or less time-consuming than the traditional courses.  In fact, distance learning courses
typically require more of your time, due to the increased amount of reading and writing
assignments to convey course material.


Are you a disciplined, self-directed learner?

Self-discipline is not an option for the distance learner. You must be focused and
able to work independently without constant prompting. Remember, in most cases you
will be working alone with little interaction among students and instructors. If the
social aspect of a class is a priority for you, then this environment is probably
not for you.


Do you have time for this?

Estimates of time spent on an online course is usually as much, and often more, than
the same class taught face-to-face. Effective time management and organizational skills
are critical — you must be able to organize your time and resources. Setting weekly
and monthly schedules to plot out how much material you have to cover and target dates
for completing assignments helps tremendously.


Is your learning style a good match for distance education?

Consider your learning style. Do you prefer learning by listening, looking, reading
or doing? Is classroom discussion important to you? Do you need constant reassurance
and instant feedback?

There are many delivery modes available for distance learning — Web-based, TV, print,
and more. You can find the right match for your individual learning style in a distance
learning course, but it may require some research.


Are your academics skills strong enough?

Only proficient readers and writers need apply. The volume of reading will be large
in most distance learning courses. If you have difficulty comprehending the average
textbook, it could have a profound effect on your ability to succeed in some online
courses. On the other hand, some instructors present information very basically and
clearly.  Check out the course site and see what’s expected.

The volume of writing is almost always sharply increased. The plus to this environment
is that you have plenty of time to formulate what you want to say, revise your written
assignments and/or responses, and use the ever-supportive spell check!

Take the Online Readiness Quiz.