Distance Learning Course
Choosing the Right Online Distance Learning Course
An online distance learning course can be cheap, convenient and quick. So why doesn't everyone sign up now? Well, even though 'e-learning' may be the thing of the future, and the Internet the world's newest classroom, online education still cannot provide the same experience as traditional learning.
If you're considering signing up for an online distance learning course, there are some issues to take into account before you hand over your credit card and dive in. Certain standards of quality should be met before you make any decision. Remember, it's your time (and money) that's at stake.
When choosing a distance learning course, first look at the technology that allows you to learn through cyberspace:
- Is the program easy to use or do you have to rely on online help? Speed and easy usage are integral components of any distance education program.
- The course should use audio and video output to foster interaction between the instructor and student. Ideally, it will rely on two-way audio and video streaming broadcast. This technology requires the learner to purchase and hook up extra equipment and software.
- Are you learning in real-time or is the lecture pre-recorded? Real-time information allows for two-way participation. The online course should use and display the appropriate graphics to aid in learning.
Guidelines and regulations for online learning vary widely; non-credit programs may differ in quality from those taken for credit. However the recreational learner shouldn't expect any less than someone studying for a degree; be sure to question the quality of your online distance learning course.
- Do you, as the student, feel as though you are involved in the learning process? Class assignments should be clearly explained. The instructor should be enthusiastic and use quality teaching and lecturing techniques.
- One disadvantage to taking an online course is that the instructor must learn to adapt his or her teaching methods to the online classroom. Instructors should treat the experience no less than if it was happening in a real classroom; cyberspace doesn't mean the student is any less important.
- The lack of face-to-face communication and the missing atmosphere of a learning community can be detrimental to the overall learning experience. Some people prefer to learn in a community of like-minded peers for both the social and educational benefits.