Distance learning is one of the most exciting developments in our age. My first real encounter with distance learning took place in 2013. I embarked on a four-year academic course which altered my future beyond what I could have imagined. Since completing my course I have developed a thirst for knowledge and discovered new strengths. I have increased my independence and became more confident at solving problems. Distance learning helped me to see the world via a fresh pair of eyes.
There are dozens of negative myths surrounding distance learning, however. I have cherry-picked some of the most common for those of you considering studying this way.
Although you might be studying on your own most of the time, you are far from being isolated. You most likely have an existing support network around you, including friends and family, parents and peers, mentors and tutors. Recognise the support you already have and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Studying independently means that you can better pace your learning. You can dig deeper into the subject areas that fascinate you most, whilst also possessing the option to slow down and spend more time on areas which you find particularly challenging. In this way you are able to deeply and richly engage with the study materials even in the comfort of your own home. Studying by yourself does not mean being isolated. Far from it.
Many people are concerned about the quality of distance learning course materials. Recent research, however, shows that many online courses are of equal or superior quality to conventional classroom courses. Teachers at leading distance learning schools spend hundreds of hours developing and tweaking learning materials. They frequently update and revise the courses to keep them up-to-date. They listen to students’ feedback and embed useful changes to the curriculum. Most distance learning courses need to be approved by rigorous quality assurance organisations.
Leading schools and colleges employ highly experienced, qualified and capable tutors. Potential tutors go through a meticulous screening process before being hired. The best schools closely examine the amount of relevant experience the tutor has, as well as their academic credentials and professional background.
The key here is research. Find out how long the potential distance learning school has been operating and investigate online reviews. Research how much experience their tutors have, explore the school’s ethical approaches and try to arrange a conversation on the phone to see how helpful their student advisers are. If you carry out thorough research, you will find a great school.
My distance learning course opened up a new world to me. It led me to encounter inspiring academic ideas, new perspectives and exciting career options. It can do for you too.
Henrietta Nagy is a seasoned portfolio worker with over 10 years’ experience in the UK education sector. Henrietta writes educational content, designs academic courses, delivers university lecturers, mentors entrepreneurs, and provides career development coaching. With 9 years of higher education studies internationally (including an MBA), she has worked with CEOs, academics, scholars, managers, women entrepreneurs, academic administrators, and other consultants.