Why You Should Consider Studying via Distance Learning
Distance learning is a study method that is continually growing in popularity, but how is it different to on-campus study? This article takes a look at the benefits of studying via distance learning for the working adult, and explains why you should consider it if you are looking at undertaking professional development or higher education activities.
What is distance learning?
Distance learning can be defined as ‘a mode of delivering education and instruction, often on an individual basis, to students who are not physically present in a traditional setting such as a classroom’. This can include both paper-based and online learning materials in a variety of different formats. Each education provider will have different variations available, and it is important to consider these before enrolling.
Study anywhere you desire
Studying via distance learning means that you are able to study anywhere you wish. This can encompass both your geographical location from destinations such as Adelaide to the Sahara Desert, as well as physical location such as on the couch or at your work desk. The beauty is, you are able to choose the location that best suits you and your learning style. If you are travelling for work, you are able to bring your learning materials with you and not fall behind. This would not be a luxury if you were studying on-campus as you would have to miss the class and catch up when you return.
Study around your other commitments
As a working adult, time is generally quite scarce. The great benefit of studying via distance learning is the flexibility that it places around your study hours. The hours in which you study are at your discretion and can be organised around your current commitments – you may have a family, or work full-time whilst you complete your studies. Whether you prefer to study in the mornings or the evenings, it is completely up to you. Time zone also becomes irrelevant making distance learning the most accessible means of completing higher education studies.
Develop new skills
Aside from the practical skills and knowledge that you will gain throughout your studies, distance learning also gives you the opportunity to build upon skills relevant in every industry. These include time-management, self-motivation, self-direction, the ability to multitask, independence and organisation skills. Employers will always be looking for proficiency in these areas regardless of your role, so it is important to build on them.
Learn whilst you work
Unlike the full-time on-campus method, distance learning allows you to continue to work whilst you study. This provides a number of benefits for the working adult including the ability to earn an income whilst studying. The average person cannot afford to take at least a year off from work therefore this is a huge benefit for a number of students. Distance learning also provides the option of studying full-time whilst working, rather than dropping back to part-time study and doubling the length of your course. Studying and working concurrently also gives you the opportunity to apply your studies into the workplace. The work-applied learning method encourages students to draw on their everyday experiences, blending theory and practice in a unique way.
It is important to consider networking opportunities when choosing the study method to suit your needs. Studying via distance learning provides a unique online networking opportunity in the fact that there are no boundaries. Networking is not limited to your local area; it can also include national and international contacts. Distance learning attracts a diverse range of people from different backgrounds and industries which allows for a great variety of new contacts.
Learning method to suit you
Distance learning does not necessarily refer to 100% online study – this flexibility is great as many of us find it difficult to read on a screen for long periods of time. Learning materials can be provided in both an online and hard copy format which caters to all learning styles. You are also able alternate throughout your degree, for example if you are travelling it may be more feasible to have all learning materials online to read from your laptop or tablet.
Fantastic online resources
Another benefit of being a distance learning student is the access that you gain to online resources. Instead of having to physically attend a library, online libraries such as AIB’s chosen provider, EBSCOhost provide you with a state of the art comprehensive resource. This library contains thousands of electronic books and journals which are of significant relevance to your studies and will help you to combine the theory with practice.
Finally, it is important to remember that studying via distance learning will actually save you money and time. There is no need to travel to a campus to take your classes – travelling includes both transportation costs as well as time commitments to and from the campus. This is a significant benefit, especially for those who are working and studying simultaneously as it will save you a great deal of extra time to put back into your studies.
What do you think?
Have you considered studying via distance learning? What do you see the pros and/or cons to be? I would be interested to hear your views, as well as the experiences of those who have previously or are currently studying via this method.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: NJ Virtual University and Virginia Tech.