Distance learning, otherwise known as home study or correspondence learning, has become a major industry over the past two decades. The reasons for this are all related to either economic changes or advances in modern technology. Let’s explore these thoughts a bit further.
Why is distance learning popular?
When we think about the economic changes that have taken place over the past couple of decades, we’ll notice the following:
* Not many people have the luxury of being full-time students while someone else supports their lifestyle;
* People are finding it harder to finance their studies when they don’t have a steady income;
* More and more people are choosing to keep a day job instead of becoming a student simply because they cannot lose their income;
* Tuition fees have become very expensive;
* Travelling and accommodation costs with regards to studying have become extremely expensive;
* People have less time and they don’t want to waste a single moment in their busy lives;
* As the job market is becoming such a competitive arena, people are finding that they need to have better qualifications than their competitors to stand out from the rest;
* Promotions are often granted on the grounds of academic qualification, which means that professionals are experiencing the need to further their education whilst performing their daily duties.
When it comes to advances in modern technology over the past twenty years, the changes where great and progress immense:
* It is very convenient to study via the internet;
* You can have fast online access to tutors;
* You can receive feedback in real-time;
* You don’t have to travel to a campus to receive all the information you need;
* You can arrange everything from tuition payment to delivery of your study material either telephonically or via email;
* You can submit your assignments online or simply post it without having to hand them in personally at a campus;
* You can discuss study related topics with other students via a chat room or student forum;
* Modern communication saves a lot of time and money which could be wisely spent on other important things;
* Technological advances enable people to do more things at the same time, which means that it becomes easier to juggle your studies along with the rest of your responsibilities.
How does distance learning differ from other modes of study?
Distance learning: Just like its name suggests, distance learning means that you’re “learning over a distance”, in other words, by means of correspondence learning or home study. You have complete freedom as you are not bound by time rosters or class attendance – instead, you receive your study material either via post or electronically and then you can complete your assigned tasks in your own time. You therefore have the choice of studying when and where it suits you best.
Full-time study: The main difference between full-time study and distance learning is class attendance. When you’re a distance learning student, you are not required to attend any classes, as you study in your own free time. However, when you’re a full-time student, this involves attending classes on a daily basis in order to complete your course successfully. As you’ll have to attend classes, this would involve either finding accommodation close to the campus or travelling to and from classes every day.
Part-time study: Part-time study falls somewhere between distance learning and full-time study, as it involves elements of both modes of study. Although you won’t necessarily be attending classes on a daily basis, you’ll have to go to campus on a regular basis to receive the information you need. These classes could either be scheduled during the evening or even over the weekends. You’ll therefore have a certain amount of freedom to choose when you’ll spend time on your assignments and studies.