Pros & Cons of distance learning (online classes)

Class vs. Computer

There are a few questions you should ask yourself before determining whether online or in-class is the best learning environment for you.

  • Are you a visual or auditory learner?
  • Do you need direct access to your instructor?
  • What is the cost difference?
  • What is the supply difference?
  • Are you on the go with your current job?
  • Are you looking to relocate during the semester?

Class:

Being in class has it's advantages: the teacher is right there, you can bounce ideas off of your classmates, you have a preset time for class, you can take notes, you can ask the instructor to repeat the material.

The disadvantages of being in class are: you have to be somewhere other than home, you may not understand your instructor all that well or may have bad chemistry with them, your classmates might distract you, the time for your class might be inconvenient, traffic.

Online:

Advantages of online classes include: the freedom to attend when it's convenient for you, access to your instructor is increased along with their undivided attention to your questions, your classmates are always there to answer questions without picking up a phone, class is anywhere you make it, no gas required to get to class.

Disadvantages can be: the cost can sometimes be more, there may be more papers and assignments to make up for the lack of in-class time, there are still attendance rules, paying for portability may increase your monthly bills, reading on the computer screen can be a headache, you'll likely never see your instructor or classmates face-to-face, there is no control over groups you might be assigned to work with initially.

What You'll Need

Home:

  • A pc or laptop - a large monitor will help with eye strain.
  • A comfy place to sit - be sure to have good low back support and soft, adjustable arm rests. You are going to be spending a lot of time in that seat.
  • Your favorite snacks and drinks - stay healthy and alert!

Away:

  • A portable laptop or notebook - preferably one that is not too heavy to carry
  • A wifi card - allows you to connect to the internet from anywhere at anytime (you'll also need the service - most cell phone companies now offer this)
  • A portable printer - if you are the type of person who needs to sit down and edit on paper, you'll want to be able to print and proof-read your papers on the road.
  • A cordless mouse - prevent repetitive strain syndromes by using good ergonomics.
  • A memory stick - transferring work from desktop to laptop made easy.

  • A laptop bag - to carry all of this with you!

Tips to Keep Your Head Above Water

  • The number one thing I can suggest for online classes, especially if you are assigned to work with a group, is to make sure that everyone in your group is signed on to the same online chat service (Yahoo, MSN, AOL, etc.) It makes it very easy to touch base with one another, to set up times for meetings (use a chat conference room), and to help each other through projects during the late night hours without disturbing the rest of your household or theirs.
  • Other than that, it's all about time management and discipline.
  • If you already have a full-time job, travel a lot for work, or are raising kids, I also suggest you get a housekeeper while you are in school!

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Comments 24 comments

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia

I love the layout!

I'm actually in a distance learning program with Troy University, I was just curious to what others thought about this type of thing. You did a great job.

I find the hardest part is teaching yourself upper math, such as calculus and statistics. Micro- and Macroeconomics aren't fun either. Ha.

Another thing I'm not a fan of, is that I have both a desktop and laptop that I work on. It gets frustrating saving part of an assignment on one, but then trying to pull it up on the other. I end up having to transfer things through the network my dad has set up with all our computers.


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa Author

Have you tried saving everything on a memory stick? It makes the info. transfer so much easier, and everything stays in one place!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia

I have. I have so much stuff on my computer that it makes it harder to do. But for individual files it works great. The network is pretty simple. Just copy it into the network folder, I can pull it up on the computer, cut and paste it where I want. It's just a pain bc the laptop has XP and the desktop has Vista, so things are in different places, which makes opening folders complicated. I'm probably going to move everythign to my documents versus my c drive.


The Phantom Blot profile image

The Phantom Blot 8 years ago

Good article, I've been taking online classes. I'd like to add, on team assignments, you'll NEVER get full participation. Take the initiative, give your team plenty of chances (visible to the instructor) to materially contribute. Only put the names of the team members who have contributed on the final assignment and submit it as a read only document. Don't let free loaders ride on your hard work. Also, if you need convincing, check out my article: http://www.socyberty.com/Education/It-is-Time-to-G...


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa Author

I completely agree. The thing is, I had this happen to me more in real live class than I ever did in an online class. It's one of those things that creaps up in group assignments. It's really sad that it becomes each man for himself!


sunstreeks profile image

sunstreeks 8 years ago from Western Washington

Great hub and I agree with Whitney, great layout!!

I finished my high school diploma through a reputable distance learning program in North Dakota. Without being about to do it this way, I don't think I would have ever graduated.


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa Author

Thanks, girls!

Sunstreeks - congrats on completing your program! Distance learning really can be a blessing!


PCaholicDotCom profile image

PCaholicDotCom 8 years ago from USA

Fantastic information... I actually took several online courses and loved it! It was during a period where I broke my ankle and had trouble getting around. My degree was a computer degree, so there were a couple classes I had to physically attend, but all in all, it saved me a lot od headaches..

I also found that my instructors were always available via email or phone so it wasn't confusing at all :-) ~Peter


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa Author

THANKS, PCaholic! (love the name) I also found that my instructors were readily available when I took online courses, more so than when I was in the actual classroom. I liked that they participated in the online classroom discussions, and it was much more interesting than sitting through a long lecture!


annemaeve profile image

annemaeve 8 years ago from Philly Burbs

Thanks for the hub, Kat!  Though I've never taken an online class, I'm preparing to teach my first one, so these insights are very helpful.


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa Author

Wow, I am trying to get into online teaching myself - hopefully it's what we expect it to be!


Joshua 8 years ago

I think that online college is too expensive considering that you don't get the interaction with a professor that you get with a normal school.http://rickdane.info/content/taking-college-classe...


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa Author

Thanks for your input, Joshua. I always wondered why online classes were more expensive . . . but for some programs there are classes that are only available online, so sometimes you just have to plow through it.


ljmatt profile image

ljmatt 8 years ago from Hereford

Hi - this is a very interesting Hub. I wonder if you are aware that a new online learning system is about to be launched on the internet. It is being launched by a company called Magnum IQ and is being called WEBUCATION and will consist of interactive online learning channels and the best bit, it wll be CHEAPER than offline tuition. It will cover one to one tuition and individual homework help (interactive and live using a whiteboard that tutor and pupil can use). Also lessons in all curriculum areas and sessions for adults in all manner of subjects. Please read my hub on Webucation of visit my blog for more information http://www.homework-help-online.blogspot.com


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa Author

It sounds like online education has come a long way!


CecilleChase05 8 years ago

Great hub! I really prefer distance learning over going to school. It is so convenient to study at home and wear what you want to wear. I can also spend the time that I otherwise spend traveling to study! What's more, I can still keep a full-time job. I'm a practical nursing student so I really need to go to school for demonstrations. If you have the time, kindly drop by this site about medical school and rankings: http://www.medicalschoolrankingsguide.com/medical-... It gives advice about choosing the right medical school. Cheers!


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa Author

Thanks so much, Cecille! Agreed, it's nice to be able to have laundry in the machine or something in the oven while you are working on a paper or attending class from your living room!


The Education Blog 7 years ago

Good post. With all advantages of I can add one disadvantage. Of you're aren't self-organized, online learning will be less effective, because no one controls it. Learn more from http://www.education-blog.net/online-education-dat...


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 7 years ago from Tampa Author

Very true - I hope that anyone signing up for online class can self-pace, otherwise it can be a disaster.


babara 7 years ago

nice piece of work with lot of useful information about online class...it helps thank you Kat07


Mary Pickett 7 years ago

I am just days away from earning my Associates Degree in Criminal Justice. I am attending Everest University Online. Without online classes, I would never have been able to attend college. I live in a very small rural area of Southern Indiana and the nearest campus offering my major is in Kentucky. Online classes to take a degree of discipline , but the advantages are far greater for me than the disadvantages. I have had good teams and I have had teams where I was the only one who worked on the assignment. I plan to earn another degree online from Everest after I settle into my new career a bit. I have worked hard for three years and I need to catch up on sleep. Good luck to all in your education goals.


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 7 years ago from Tampa Author

Mary -

I finished my degree from the University of Phoenix onlne. While I had a local campus, only the last few classes were online-only. I could instantly see the benefits to online/distance learning! It was neat to have teams that were so diverse, with so many different experiences and cultures!


Mary McNamee 6 years ago

I am on online BSN student from Excelsior college. I took courses such as statistics and passed. I normally very bad in math but for some reason and it was the instructor, I passed. The online course and the book was meant for independent learners like me


natcole1983 5 years ago

With online learning it takes more commitment and dedication, which speaks volumes about the people who choose to go that route.

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