In times like these, distance learning may be the only option for a lot of people. Creating a classroom from the comfort of your home is an effective alternative if in-person teaching is not feasible. Last year, 400 million people took up distance learning, according to the World Bank Group.

What is distance learning?

As the name suggests, all learning is carried out virtually rather than in-person in an academic institution. Distance learning typically involves teleconferencing – teaching provided electronically on Zoom, Skype, or an equivalent, which can either be delivered one-on-one or to a group. Additionally, a set course will be prescribed with relevant resources made available, including documents, activities, and readings. To pass or reach a level of proficiency, exams or coursework may be required.

What kinds of distance learning are there?

There are three kinds of distance learning:

1. Synchronous distance learning involves real-time teaching, usually via teleconference. This works the same way as in-person learning and requires live interaction. Being present with a teacher and peers encourages focus and participation. This method may cause issues for those with a busy schedule, as the hours are not as flexible.

2. Asynchronous distance learning involves independent learning with access to online resources to guide you. Deadlines are set to monitor progress, but aside from that, learning is done at your own pace. This kind of learning can be less effective for those lacking motivation. For those studying at home, one excellent way to stay motivated is to designate a study area.

3. Complement synchronous distance learning involves a mix of the two and usually works best. For example, Charter Schools offers K-12 teaching through mentoring methods and at-home learning resources. 

What are the pros of distance learning?

  • Distance learning, like the Open University, is a great option later in life when you have more free time and want to educate yourself further.
  • It is usually less expensive, as travel costs and additional money for food are not required.
  • Distance learning is not limited by geography. This means classes that would otherwise be unavailable to you may become accessible. For example, you could sign on to a marine biology course in Sydney and learn from wherever you live.
  • You can sometimes organize learning around your schedule.

What are the cons of distance learning?

  • Due to the electronic nature of distance learning, students without a reliable internet connection or limited computer access may struggle. 
  • The motivation for your studies may be hindered when removed from a traditional classroom environment. 
  • Organization and time management may become a problem for some if there is no in-person authority to lay down the law.

Who does distance learning suit best?

After assessing the pros and cons, you may already know if distance learning is right for you. It works best if you are self-motivated and hungry to learn. It suits those that find learning from home highly convenient and can fit an otherwise busy schedule.