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November 22, 2016: Since 1737, when the first attempt to distance learning course was advertised by Caleb Philipps, teacher of the shorthand method, to help students learn through weekly mailed lessons, distance learning has evolved dynamically because of the advancement of technology in the world of online education. Many students bounded by financial barriers and time constraints are able to access education in their chosen field. Recently, Google data suggested that online education providers are accessed more than the traditional campus universities.

However, distance learning isn’t for everyone. It requires a great deal of self-discipline and determination. But people who are unable to attend residential schools because of other commitments, distance learning is a flexible alternative.



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“Distance learning means literally that: learning from a distance,” says Doreen Gough of UNISA. “Distance learning students receive their study material either through the post, or online. They submit assignments through the post or email and receive them back marked.

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“Students in this form of study sometimes have to buy their own prescribed books if they aren’t included in the package. The institutions which offer these courses will have their own arrangements regarding admission to examinations and where students should write these examinations.”

Before applying, one needs to know if the distance learning is the right choice for them. Here are few pros and cons of distance learning course that one must carefully examine before applying.

Pros:

  1. You can start a distance learning course whenever you need them. You don’t need to wait for the college’s semester schedule. There are no set time classes. You decide your pace and your degree plan.
  2. The variety of opportunities that distance learning provides cannot be matched. Millions of courses are there for you just a click away. Also, these courses are cheaper than the traditional campus courses as there are no accommodation problems.
  3. Though some distance learning courses provide an in-class environment, there are many other courses in which you control your learning environment.
  4. Distance learning courses are better for students who learn better through experimental exercises or are language-challenged or introvert.
  5. You can continue with your job while studying a distance learning course.

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Cons:

  1. If you believe in personalized teacher’s attention, then online education is not for you.
  2. If you are not computer-savvy and are afraid to learn some new technologies, online education will give you a hard time.
  3. Though you can interact with classmates using discussion groups, chat rooms and emails, there are no offline get together.
  4. Though online help is provided, students are expected to complete their assignments on their own. They have to find their own resources.
  5. One of the most important parts of the college is the experience, the college spirit. None of this is possible with distance learning courses

The advancement in distance learning is accompanied by a great number of scams. The students pay a lot for the degree which is not even worth the paper it is printed on.

Anytime you open the spam folder of your Gmail account, you can see a number of emails offering certificates, undergraduate degrees and even PhD programs from different institutions. The problem is that how should one tell the difference between the beneficial ones and the worthless ones. This is an important task in your life, and you don’t want to be scammed. Make sure you check that the school has accredited online PHD programs.


Blended learning logo. Wikimedia Commons

Universities that provide distance learning courses expect students to take time and complete the course with dedication and hard work. They require a lot of self motivation for a long period of time. So, if someone is offering you a degree or a certificate that does not require any dedication from you can be a diploma mill.

Diploma mills are the institutions that exchange degrees for money without asking any proof of course mastery or any substantive testing or coursework from students. These institutions are illegally running all across the globe.

With the rapid increase in the usage of internet throughout the world, diploma mills are becoming more difficult to track. It is very important to thoroughly check the accreditation before choosing a program as at first glance these institutions look legitimate.

Prepared by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53


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