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The Advantages of Distance Learning
According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Forum on Education Statistics, virtual education is now part of the planning agenda of most organizations concerned with education and training. The quality of distance learning has greatly improved in the past few years, as both students and educators have become more comfortable with the technology, and as stories of best practices have been shared and duplicated.
While quality has increased substantially (and while many inferior programs have failed), it is still prudent to verify that the distance learning organization is fully accredited by the appropriate agencies. One valuable resource is AccreditedOnlineColleges.org. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accreditation in the United States involves non-governmental entities as well as governmental agencies.
Distance learning features a number of advantages, particularly for non-U.S. students seeking an accredited U.S. degree. Perhaps the most relevant benefit involves the luxury of remaining in your home country while studying -- and consequently avoiding the inconvenience of applying for a student visa to study in the United States. Other advantages include:
- Accessibility for those living away from the training center
- No waste of time or other resources in transport, commuting to a central location for each class
- Flexibility to study in any convenient location with an Internet connection
- Self-paced learning:
- Quickly browse materials you have already mastered, and concentrate time and effort in areas containing new information and / or skills
- Study materials at a personal speed and intensity, without having to wait for slower pace of the average classroom
- Flexibility to join conversations in the bulletin board discussion areas at any hour, and to review your classmates' comments since the previous visit
- Just-in-time learning; more opportunities to study the most current material available
- Flexibility for those with irregular work schedules
- Accessibility for those with restricted mobility (e.g., handicapped, injured, elderly)
- Accessibility for those with family responsibilities (e.g., parents with young children at home)
Recent research has shown that the most significant factor helping students to succeed -- or not -- in Web-based classes has been their ability to manage time. The more successful students reported spending 2 to 3 hours regularly each week for each hour of credit for a class. For example, a 4-hour credit class required a minimum of at least 8 to 12 hours of work each week of the semester to complete all requirements.
Without class lectures to spur a quick burst of activity to complete a project, for example, some students procrastinated through weeks of the semester, only to find themselves so far behind that they could never recover. Experts strongly recommend that you devise a typical weekly schedule so that you will have a general guide for allocating appropriate time to study.