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Pros and Cons of Distance Learning

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My wish to study a new exciting course encouraged me to research about online education, My findings prompted me to write this article.


What Is Distance Education?

Distance education is no more than attending school without leaving your home or place of work, getting an education without a face-to-face contact with teachers and classmates, and studying when you can, if you wish. It simply means getting an education at your own pace.

Traditionally, distance learning was getting educated through correspondence courses where schools and students corresponded only by post. Not many important subjects were offered at the time but with the advent of digital technology, hundreds of courses are offered online, and though you may live far away in Bali, you can get an undergraduate degree from a top New York college.

Many people are choosing to enrol at online schools, colleges, and universities as an alternative to attending on-campus educational institutions for many reasons, the most important ones being its cost-effectiveness and affordability.

There are several reasons why distance learning is a good alternative (with many advantages), but it is not necessarily all ‘rosy’. And though the advantages of online education far outweigh the disadvantages, the concept of attending school over the internet is not only credible but also totally acceptable.

As more well-respected institutions of higher learning now offer online classes, employers are now more accepting of online earned degrees.

With the regular addition of more courses and the current possibilities of obtaining higher qualifications like PhD and MSc, distance education is the future of education - global, seamless, cost-effective, and flexible.

Advantages of an Online Education

The flexibility of distance education gives many intending students and other individuals who really desire to further their studies the opportunity to get an education that’s not only less expensive but also more convenient. There are also those who never knew they’d have the opportunity or time to get an education. Now, they can earn a diploma, a degree, and even a master’s degree through studying online.

The pros of attending distance education colleges include:

  1. Saving on time and money and reduced costs – Online education costs less for several reasons, one being because there are fewer expenses to incur – no commuting, less physical books, no living expenses, and no cost of expensive school-related supplies.
  2. Students have access to an education anywhere and at any time, without limitations, restrictions, and location of study.
  3. Distance education students can work at a career and attend school because there are no schedule limitations. The self-paced study allows students to work at their own chosen pace, and classes can be 'attended' without the usual class work pressure that obtains in an on-campus school.
  4. A distance learning student can enrol to study from any part of the world if there is an internet connection available there. This means you can live in Timbuktu and attend college in Iceland.
  5. Working with a computer and learning internet skills (essential) while studying, is a valuable experience and can open up networking opportunities that can be further applied to other facets of life.
  6. The tuition process can be self-paced, depending on how much time a student has available for studying. So, whether a student is a slow or fast learner, a self-paced tuition process is a great advantage. A slow learner can take his/her time to learn without pressure while the fast student can virtually 'zip' through an online course in half the time.
  7. Physically challenged students can study from home comfortably and unobtrusively without encountering all the usual challenges they may face in an on-campus educational institution.
  8. There are personalized instructions from tutors and student will find this beneficial, more than if they are stuck in a classroom filled with other students. A significant factor that drives the success of distance education is that it is done through electronic media. This is the means of educational interaction between tutors and students.
  9. Future employers will respect an online graduate's time management skills – working at a full-time job and balancing it with distance education. Many prospective employers may see this as a positive, and a great drive to both further an education and a career.


Disadvantages of Distance Education

Now that some of the advantages of distance learning have been mentioned, it is a good thing to also state the disadvantages of studying at online colleges. Before enrolling for an online course, it is good to know that working at your own pace without some sort of self-discipline will not only stretch the duration of your study unnecessarily, your interest may wane if you are not fully dedicated to your course study.

  1. Online colleges don’t offer prompt and immediate feedback you get in a regular classroom setting and while performance can be assessed on the spot in a classroom, with distance education, students have to wait for the tutor’s feedback while their works are being reviewed.
  2. Distance education doesn't offer all courses on the web so students pursuing certain degrees may not find their courses available online. This is understandable because not all educational programs are suited for online education, for instance, you cannot study medical courses through distance learning.
  3. In the early years of digital distance education, many employers refused to acknowledge degrees earned online but today, as more top colleges and universities offer online study, more employers now acknowledge and recognize this form of education.
  4. If for instance, you live out at sea and need to receive physical study materials, you must expect to incur possible added costs. Even if internet connection is available, there may be other educational materials required for study which you need to work on or with. You may either suspend studying till you get back to shore or, have supplies delivered to you in a costly and complex manner (speedboat or helicopter).
  5. There are still some who will hesitate to even consider, let alone hire graduates with an online degree, but this may vary from one company to another.
  6. An online college that lacks accreditation is bound to impart low-quality education, so, before enrolling for an online course, it is best to check that the program is accredited. This can be verified through an accrediting agency. This way, you ensure that the chances of a future employer not accepting an online degree is minimised.
  7. There is little or no face-to-face interaction with distance learning. This is something that requires getting used to.
  8. If you don’t exercise self-discipline, it will be almost impossible to reach your goal of earning a degree in the stipulated duration of the study.
  9. If you don’t have a sense of self-direction, the chances of failure will be high.

© 2010 viryabo


viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on April 14, 2019:

Thank you Edward.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on April 04, 2019:

Thank you Edward.

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Edward G Gordon from Northern Ireland on April 04, 2019:

Good artlcle. I can relate to many of the points you've mentioned. Especially the cons.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on March 31, 2013:

I'm sure you can cmellon86. I really do.

Thanks for the nice comments and best of luck if you decide to go for a home study course.

cmellon86 on September 20, 2011:

Thank you for putting both the pros and cons! Will an old fart like me be able to keep up with online classes?

mbaker2012 on September 05, 2011:

Learning online isn't for the faint of heart. There's a lot of time and effort that it requires.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on August 29, 2011:

Thanks Mariline.

marilnelanoon233 on August 10, 2011:

I never knew interior design was offered as an online course. Great and detailed hub btw!

Torres on August 08, 2011:

Online learning has become very popular because of its advantages which includes setting own time for studying. We may be looking for career advancement or may be interested in a career change and all this may require an additional qualification or simply you want to learn something new and innovative. But due to busy and stressful lives it may be difficult to take out time for attending regular classes at a particular time.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on March 14, 2011:

@ Computer technician.

Thank you for your appreciation and for visiting. Cheers.

@007, thank you. And thanks for finding time to leave a nice comment. Cheers.

@Alyssa, thanks for the compliment. I appreciate your visit and kind comments.

Distance education has really come to stay, and i believe in the not too distant future, getting an on-line degree will become the norm rather than the exception, for most who desire further education. Godbless.

agent007 from Florida on February 26, 2011:

This was a very informative article! It's good to see people provide all the facts for those who are still on the fence!

Computer technician online on February 22, 2011:

Thank you Viryabo, I think we have all seen this coming, and it obviously is getting to be more prevalent in today's world. Thank you for expounding on it and sharing with us.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on January 16, 2011:

I'm so glad you have a good experience with distance education colleges Aslanlight. The good thing about it? You can create your own pace and study at your reasonable convenience.

Thanks for your nice comments & best of luck with your on line study.


aslanlight from England on January 16, 2011:

I'm studying for an online degree with the Open University and it's excellent! I find that motivating myself to study's sometimes difficult because of not having certain times to attend, but so far my modules have been so fascinating that I push on with it.

Your article's insightful and comprehensive.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on January 10, 2011:

Thanks adjunct.

And thank you for the visit. Pursuing online undergraduate degree programs will be the way of future education, by the way its gaining so much popularity.


adjunct from The Big Easy on January 09, 2011:

You make a very strong case for earning a degree online. Well done!

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on January 09, 2011:

Thanks wooded, and thank you for visiting.


Wooded on December 29, 2010:

This is wonderful information on distance learning. Great hub!

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on December 28, 2010:

Thanks D.A.V.E.

Glad you enjoyed this article. Its a great thing that distance education is becoming highly popular and this is the indication of a great future trend. Where everyone anywhere can have a good education from good and reputable colleges.

Thanks for visiting and for leaving a nice comment.


D.A.V.E. on December 28, 2010:

I really enjoyed your article. I am also attending a lond distance school for my undergraduate degree. Your article is a reasurance that this is what the future holds for education.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on December 06, 2010:

That's fantastic Becky. Its good to know that attending college today is so easy, and distance education colleges has afforded everyone a convenient and unique way to obtain a degree.

Goodluck with your studies at DeVry. A great university to attend online i hear. All the best.


BeckyA on December 04, 2010:

I never got to go to college and live in a small town where opportunities are limited. I am going to DeVry University online - and I love it!!

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on November 29, 2010:

Thank you for your nice comments cwarden. It is true that before deciding to attend distance education colleges, it's good to know all the options and what to expect.

Thanks for visiting.


cwarden from USA on November 28, 2010:

This is really good information for anyone considering an online education. Thanks for the honest pros and cons, I'm sure many potential students will find this helpful when making their choice.

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