Is distance learning/online studying for you?
Over the past several years, online degree programs have grown significantly in popularity, and the structure of these courses continue to grow and evolve as technology evolves. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, online learning has become more centric in people’s lives.
Online degrees are an accessible and affordable option for prospective students who may not be able to access higher education otherwise. Students can now earn a degree from countries around the world, without ever leaving their home country.
As with any educational program, online programs have their pros and cons. Here are a few things to consider before studying online. Be sure to reflect over each point carefully when you’re determining if this is the best path for you.
The Advantages of Studying Online
1. Flexible schedules
Some courses may require students to be online at a specific time for a class or interaction with an instructor, but this is fairly rare. For the most part, online courses allow you to log into the course material whenever it suits your schedule. While there are deadlines for assignments and assessments, the flexible schedule provided by online courses allows you to balance school with your other responsibilities, such as work or family life.
Tuition for online programs are normally less expensive than in-person programs. In addition to a lower tuition cost, one will save money on room, board, or commuting costs.
3. Access to course materials
With traditional on-campus courses, students have to rely on their notes in order to remember class lectures. With online courses, you have access to written or video lectures whenever you need them, making studying much easier.
4. Location flexibility
Because online institutions exist across the world, you can take classes from a different state or country without having to leave home. Typically, online classes can be taken from anywhere as long as you have internet access.
5. Improve your writing and communication skills
When all of your interactions take place online, clear communication is crucial. Since you will be judged primarily on your writing, you will learn to put in your best work and clearly articulate your meaning.
The Disadvantages of Studying Online
1.Limited instructor/student interaction
Your professors may hold digital “office hours,” but you may still find it difficult to engage with them. It may take a few hours to get a response to a question, or there might be additional back and forth discussion on an issue. Most online professors are fairly hands-off, so it is difficult to get extra help or one-on-one interaction. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t develop mentoring and networking relationships with your professors, but it is generally harder.
2. Social interaction
Online schools do not offer the peer-to-peer interaction, like clubs, sporting events and social gatherings, that traditional institutions offer. You may have chat rooms and online hangouts, and most online courses have a discussion area where students are required to talk about specific questions pertaining to the course, but it is more difficult to form meaningful bonds in online programs. You will have no campus atmosphere to create social interaction.
3. Technology requirements
Most online programs will post the recommended (or required) technology needed to take their courses. These are deliberately kept tech specs simple: A word processing program, a PDF reader and a computer and Internet connection fast enough for online learning tools.
But these basic requirements hide the fact that most online education programs require students to navigate potentially complex virtual learning environments, such as Blackboard or Moodle. For savvy computer users, this is no problem. But for those who struggle with the digital age, this can present a significant frustration and obstacle to completing coursework.
4. Time management
If you have a habit of procrastinating, online courses may prove particularly challenging. Having the flexible schedule provided by online courses is great, but may not offer that necessary push that some students need to get their work done.
Over the past few
years, the reputation of online education has improved significantly,
especially as more and more traditional institutions have started offering
online degrees. However, in some cases there is still a misconception that
online institution is easier or less reputable than traditional establishments.
Make sure you research the reputation of the institution you are considering
before you apply.
Although an online degree program has both its pros and cons, whether or not it’s a right fit is going to be different for everyone. You will have to analyze both the pros and cons factors which contribute greatly to making an informed decision about the direction of your career path. Think carefully about the type of educational experience that you want, as well as the things that are most important to you, before you decide whether or not to pursue an online degree.
It is also true that learning is highly dependent on the individual’s motivation to learn. Therefore, the bottom line is that the efforts any students’ puts into their education is what will eventually determine how much they will retain and how beneficial the overall experience will be to their future career.
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AFRICA FEDERATION EDUCATION BOARD