Whatever you call “home learning” and want to define the latest buzzwords in non-traditional education, you can find a program and method that suits your needs. There are currently over 1.2 million people in the United States in some form of distance learning, with a projected increase to 2.3 million in just a few years.
In considering this rapidly growing and workable form of education and training, there are some basic things to keep in mind and some decisions you need to make in order to create the environment that best suits your needs. You need to know the what, the why, the benefits and the how of the different forms of distance learning.
Distance learning (distance education) began in Europe in the 19th century and has evolved into a multi-faceted term that serves many purposes. Some of the forms of distance learning are: distance learning, online education, internet-based education, electronic education, e-education, electronic learning, and e-learning. How these terms differ depends on how the institution defines and names the programs it offers. To simplify the whole concept, let’s assume that these terms represent ways to learn away from a “chunk” facility. Some distance learning and / or online programs may or may not be affiliated with a university or college. There are many programs that are independent and not affiliated with any institution.
Distance learning offers a variety of avenues to personal goals including: GED, Associate Degrees, Bachelor Degrees, Graduate Certificates, Masters Degrees, Doctoral Degrees, No Credit Training Courses, and others. Whether a person is pursuing a degree, keeping professional skills updated, or pursuing skills for an area of interest or a hobby, there is a program or offering that should work.
Why are so many people turning to distance learning? What are its advantages? On a personal level, consider benefits such as: maintaining privacy; offers comfort; allows a flexible schedule; enables the compatibility of work and family; work at your own pace, move slowly, or speed up learning; can be less expensive; ideal for people bound to the house; no unnecessary trips; no formal instruction; and can “learn while you earn”. These are some of the many things that lead quite a number of people to take an entirely different approach to gaining knowledge / skills and / or earning a degree.
Those who speak out against an alternative to distance learning often point to the lack of socialization that is part of a traditional form of education. However, not everyone is looking for the classroom activities, college events / parties, and the interactions that are part of a school campus. Many of the classroom activities such as discussion and support can be done online. The other things that an online education will reinforce are: Reading – e-books, up to date
References, current research; Listening – through audio presentations or clips; Perusing graphic illustrations and demonstrations; do – assignments, quizzes, exams, research papers; and speaking / communication – through email, chat, and electronic discussions. Distance learning can be much more than just reading and writing.
What are the requirements for participating in a distance learning course? Many programs require at least a GED or an entrance exam. Typically, the application process includes: an application; Transcripts; Test results; an essay; and letters of recommendation. The less formal the program, the less formal the requirements. There is a wide range of answers to these questions. What is required for an online program, however, is the right computer equipment with Internet connection (high speed), word processing; E-mail; and multimedia player. The program you choose provides more specific details for device and software recommendations.
When choosing a program, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself as you do your research and make your choices. Ask about: Help / support is offered; Qualification of trainers; Number of years in which the institution has provided services; is it an accredited program; Information on the curriculum; and multimedia elements of the program. Incidentally, accreditation is voluntary, as there is no officially sanctioned body. However, most schools considered the list of six regional accreditation agencies to be legitimate agencies. Ask if it is regionally accredited.
The last thing to think about is your motivation and work ethic. If you are a good reader (good reading comprehension) who does not hesitate and can avoid distractions, you are a good candidate for an alternative approach to education. In the age of global education and the need for up-to-date knowledge and skills, this is a fast delivery system that brings all technological advancement into your living room instantly. It works for over a million people, and it can work for you.
Visit our distance learning resource center at: http://sbmag.org/distancelearning.html