In this modern age where everything is digitalized, it is expected that any business or venture that makes use of the internet would grow.
Distance learning is a method of education whereby students make use of the internet to take their classes in their different courses, without having to go to a physical classroom. It is also known as remote learning or distance education.
Online distance learning utilizes the Internet, hence it has seen massive growth in recent times, one which spiked exponentially with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. This happened because the pandemic brought about the global closure of schools, and since students couldn’t take their classes in a physical classroom, they had to do so online. A recent research carried out showed a 5% increase in enrollment into schools which offered primarily e- education in April to June of 2021, and a 7% increase in September to November.
However, it is important to note that the growth of e-learning isn’t only as a result of the pandemic. Several other reasons exist as to why many people, old and young alike, may want to get involved with this online system of learning. There are several reasons why many others wouldn’t want to get involved as well. So this brings us to the reasons for both cases, the pros and the cons of remote and distance learning, as you would see below.
Advantages of Distance Learning
- Remote access to education
One of the very first benefits of online distance learning is in its name itself. That is, online distance learning allows you to study and become educated from anywhere in the world as long as an internet connection is accessible to you. Instead of being in a physical classroom which you may not be able to, due to several circumstances, anywhere you are can become your classroom. If this isn’t a firsthand proof of development, what is?
- Opportunity to gain expertise in new technologies
Another one of the benefits of remote learning is that it provides an avenue for its users to learn and develop in the use of several new software and technologies. A lot of people before the pandemic for example, had never used the video features that Zoom and other video conferencing software provide. It was indeed strange, and a surreal experience as well, for many students to see the lecturers that they previously saw everyday in class, now on their phone or PC screens. All in all, this encouraged students to advance in their understanding and use of tech.
- Allows flexibility
Online education offers flexibility, which is one of the biggest advantages of learning online. People can get very busy with family and professional responsibilities that they can hardly find time to drive or walk to school for a class. Distance learning remedies this, because it gives you the chance of taking a course while doing chores at home, or during break periods at your workplace.
- Offers a wide range of courses
There are several distance learning courses out there. This offers a wider variety of choices than the traditional learning setting. E-learning platforms make it so you can just pick from any of these course options, see if it’s the right fit for you, and change to another if it’s not. Note that online education doesn’t make use of videos only, but also other content formats like ebooks, docs and PDFs. The technologies or applications used for online education typically allows teachers and lecturers to share PDF for students. Hence, PDF tools such as a PDF editor are very necessary in this type of learning. This is for the students and teachers to have convenient and easy access to PDF files and also have the ability to edit and format information.
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Disadvantages of Distance Learning
Although distance e-learning has its numerous benefits that makes it attractive to a lot of people, it also has its downsides. Some of these include;
- Frequency of technical difficulties
There are a lot of technical difficulties associated with e-learning, varying in magnitude depending on your location mostly. There may be days that your internet provider encounters issues, and so are unable to provide you with internet connection. This happens mostly in less developed areas of the world. Sometimes , you may experience software issues with your online education applications or programs. Therefore, you’ll be unable to access your courses or attend your classes for as long as the issues prevail. These circumstances are very frustrating and unnerving, and people will prefer to avoid this by going to a physical classroom. As well, with every machine or tech with ones and zeros that can be connected to an internet, there’s a possibility of being hacked. All these are some of the technical problems that can happen with online education, and hinder rapid growth.
- Employment issues
The credibility and authenticity of online schools are usually questioned by employers who have a hard time understanding the rigor and quality of an online education. Therefore, a graduate of such schools may find it hard finding employment from such employers.
- Cost of learning
Cost can be a major problem for some aspiring online students. Many people may want to enroll in an online school. However, after checking the cost of getting a device with internet access, regularly paying internet bills, combined with the tuition for their course, they get discouraged. As a result, they don’t partake in such schooling programs.
In the less developed part of the world too, there’s the issue of electricity. Electricity isn’t a constant in those nations and this discourages people from using their gadgets for school, for fear they would run down and it would be a while before they can power them back up.
- Rigid schedule
Contrary to popular belief, not all online schools or online education systems allow the kind of flexibility that many people look for. These systems operate such that if you miss a lecture, you cannot get it back as it can’t be saved. Therefore, you need to be present and view lecture sessions as they happen.
Thus, in a case where you are preoccupied with something extremely important, you will not be able to make your class and this will affect your grades in the long run.
Is Distance Learning right for you?
The answer to this question is a very personal one, and it should be based on your own opinion of the balance between the pros and cons of distance learning as you have seen above. Before you make the decision, you have to realize that distance learning requires time, commitment, self-discipline to ensure your commitment, and motivation. So take these into consideration, weigh the cons and the pros, and you’ll have yourself a good answer!