Distance learning has been around for decades. If you read some of our other articles you can learn about the history of distance learning and the various forms it can take on; certainly, online learning is one of those forms. However, this article is going to talk about the benefits of distance learning as far as what type of person can make the best use of it, who should not use distance learning and the lack of socialization that is inherent to distance learning… or is it? And what are some advantages and disadvantages of distance learning education?
Who Benefits from Distance Learning?
Distance learning has always been a viable option for many people who cannot, or do not want to, leave their homes. In the 1960s, 70s and 80s correspondence classes through the mail were a great way for house wives who were stuck at home all day, yet had free time, to train for a new career, allowing them to get out of the house once the kids were in school full time. Additionally, distance learning is a great option for people who have physical or emotional problems which make it difficult to leave their home, or for people who are geographically distant from viable schools. Certainly distance learning, from mail order courses to modern online schools, have helped many people who might not otherwise have been able to get an education to advance their knowledge.
Who Offers Distance Learning?
Distance learning comes in three basic types. There are institutions that provide vocational distance learning; these are often the ones that you see advertising on TV that they can train you to repair small appliances or become a paralegal. Then, there are schools that offer non-accredited degrees. Usually, these are in technical areas such as computers or electronics. Finally, there are online schools that offer fully accredited degrees from home, the same as a degree you would get at any state run university.
Does Social Life Suffer with Distance Learning?
Many people wonder whether social interaction can be part of distance learning. The answer is a complicated one. With a mail order course there is almost zero interaction with faculty or other students; obviously you have no social value there. Depending upon a person's situation, however, this may not be an issue. If you are a grown, married person and want to learn art, do you really care if you get to socialize while you do it?
Then, you have modern online schools. You do get to socialize, and while people used to criticize it as entirely online and not the same, in today's world of online social networking people are realizing that there is real value to virtual socialization. However, I would like to put my personal two cents in here…
I earned my bachelors degree through a traditional campus program, where I lived on campus. Then, I earned my graduate degrees online. The experience of being on campus for my bachelors was invaluable - I loved it. Personally, I would never want my kids to get their first college degree online; the experience of a real campus is just too exciting and valuable. However, for an adult student or graduate degree seeker, I think online learning is the greatest!
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