There are many interesting facts circulating the Internet regarding distance education. These facts range from inadvertent negativity to the ridiculous and outlandish claims. The following is an aggregate of common facts concerning distance learning.
- 1 Motivational Factors: Online Education Driving Forces
- 2 Nontraditional Students: Characteristics of Adult Learners
- 3 Paying for College: Financial Aid Opportunities
- 4 Disadvantages of Distance Learning: Yes, There are Cons
- 5 Advantages of Distance Education: Free Educational Opportunities
Motivational Factors: Online Education Driving Forces
A Degree is a Degree – many adults are informed employers who will not accept degrees earned through distance education. This is false, because a school’s diploma or transcripts will not indicate a program was completed online.
Reasons for Enrollment – the most important reason adult students enroll in distance education programs is the inability to attend formal scheduled classes. These obstacles often include:
- Inconvenient class hours
- Home and job responsibilities
- Campus inaccessibility
- Child or elder care
- Commuting costs
Cost – education is rarely inexpensive; however, online education courses are often less expensive than traditional college courses. Especially when subtracting what students pay for on-campus housing, transportation, and campus fees.
Nontraditional Students: Characteristics of Adult Learners
Individuality of Adult Learners – their singular independence causes them often to be referred as nontraditional students, which have the following characteristics.
- They have a strong view and belief continuing education is an investment in their future.
- They are often inhibited by multiple non-school-related commitments and responsibilities.
- Typically do not have a cohesive age group with which to bond with socially.
- These nontraditional students typically have limited support and social acceptability for their status in more traditional adult roles.
- They often need help building self-confidence, when acquiring or refreshing study skills.
Compatibility – not every adult is well suited for the demands of distance learning. This is because courses may or may not be monitored; causing adult learners to take full responsibility for their own success or failure with mastering course materials or required skills. However, successful students are highly motivated and self-disciplined, along with having varied learning skills.
Paying for College: Financial Aid Opportunities
Employer Financed Education – many employers finance college courses directly related to their industry. Adult learners may not be able to earn an art degree, while working as a network administrator. However, their company may pay for specific certifications. Short-term certificate programs are particularly popular, due to narrow focus of training.
Eligibility for Scholarships and Grants – often distance learning students are told by a variety of sources they are not eligible for scholarships, grants, and loans. This is not true; there are many sources of free money for school.
- Federal Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans available for students enrolled in either undergraduate or graduate school.
- Scholarships generally require enrollment in two or four year programs and must be able to apply scholarship to distance learning.
- Grants are generally provided through state agencies and each state has its own rules. Grants are also great, because they do not need to be paid back.
- School loans are available providing assistance if no scholarships, grants, of federal aid are approved.
Disadvantages of Distance Learning: Yes, There are Cons
Social Isolation – unlike attending traditional classes, online learners often study alone. However, this impersonality has been shrinking with technological advances though the use of communication technologies such as online discussion forums, online class chat rooms, email, and teleconferencing.
Lack of Immediate Feedback – in a traditional classroom setting, a student’s performance can be immediately assessed through questions and informal testing. While distance learning students typically must wait to receive feedback via e-mail or other methods after their instructor has reviewed their work and provided an online response.
Advantages of Distance Education: Free Educational Opportunities
Open Course Ware – sometimes referred to as open content, is free continuing education college courses available online. These free courses have the following in common:
- Free and open distance learning courses provide access to digitally produced high quality education materials over the Internet.
- These courses provide access to free online videos, audio, open textbooks, readings, and other online materials which support the course.
- Some courses may recommend textbooks for purchase to supplement the free course materials.
- Materials used in each course are provided under an open license agreement with the university offering the course.
These interesting facts are derived from the actual experiences of nontraditional students who complete courses or earn their degrees through distance education programs. One important fact all adult learners needs to know, is students completing online education programs typically do just as well as those who attend traditional classroom settings.