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What's the Hype Over Distance Learning?
What is Distance Learning?
Distance learning is essentially an online program offered by some colleges and universities that allows students to take classes online.
Students can opt to take individual classes online, enroll in a full degree program, or a hybrid distance learning program.
By taking individual online classes, students can opt to register for a few online classes and take a few on campus during the same semester. This tends to have its advantages because students can take simpler classes online while focusing on harder, more advanced classes live in class, which allows students to free up their time by having maybe one or two online classes during the semester while keeping their student status of full time.
A full 100% distance learning program involves taking an entire degree program online. This is a wonderful advantage for working adults and parents, but it does have its disadvantage of learning advances courses virtually on your own.
Hybrid distance learning is similar to just taking a few online classes and a few on campus classes during a semester. Usually, those who opt for hybrid distance learning, maintain a half and half schedule, versus just a few online classes throughout the entire degree program.
Materials for Distance Learning
The materials that you need for distance learning is relatively simple.
- Windows XP or Vista
- A reliable school- provided email
- Access to high speed internet with a modem of 56.9 kb or better
- A computer with the most current edition of Netscape or Internet Explorer. Depending on the program that the college uses, you may have problems with Mozilla and Firefox.
- Microsoft Office Suit with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Power Point
- Virus protection software that is installed and active
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
You will also, need a textbook and other materials related to the class such as a graphic calculator.
In regards to different classes and different teachers, you may be required to have other materials in addition to the basic materials, such as specified CD's and programs.
Distance Learning is a Real Education
Being online, most people tend to think that distance learning programs are nothing more than an easy way to get a degree. What they don't realize is that it's really a legit way to get an education.
I'm a distance learning student, and have been for the past 2 years, give or take. I still hear from my younger cousins, either in the latter years of high school or first years in college, "Can't you just cheat?"
The answer is yes, but what most people don't realize is that when taking tests and quizzes online, they're timed. Simple as that. You can cheat as long as you can still finish the assignments in the allotted time frame.
But, that's not going to last for long. Schools, such as Troy University, is currently testing a new program that will not allow students to cheat or use other materials during a test or quiz. The program works similar to a webcam, in which is focuses on a small area, allowing for just enough room for you on the screen.
Teachers are able to upload the videos in order to see if you moved, had a book, changed browsers, or anything that could constitute as cheating during the exam.
It's a rather interesting program, that will hurt many online students that use books and other resources during online exams.
Other than that, online learning, isn't as simple as you'd think.
- There are deadlines to tests and assignments.
- You are given short periods of time to take the test, meaning the test may open on Monday and close on Wednesday at 11:59 pm.
- Tests have time frames, and usually a penalty will take place if you are over the time limit; I've noticed most professors I've encountered give a 5% penalty per minute over the time limit.
- You have to take part in online discussions and chats.
You're not allowed to slip in your grammar or use slang. You can't get away with anything that you can't get away with in a regular class.
Distance learning programs are a real and legit form of education.
Distance Learning - It's Real Education!
Advantages of Distance Learning
Ok, so what's the point in taking an online class if you can't cheat and it's not easy?
Distance learning programs are intended to work best for military employees who want to further their education, but know that they will be sent off over- seas. Yes, they are there to work, but they are still provided with computers and internet access.
Online classes are, also, intended for working parents and adults who need to hold full- time positions but also want to finish their degree or further their degree classification.
Being enrolled in a distance learning program allows you to take classes when you know you will have the extra time. Take less classes when you know your schedule will not permit a full schedule of classes, work, and household duties, and vice versa, take more when your schedule will allow for it.
With distance learning programs, you are able to work around your regular schedule and study when you can. Take tests and complete assignments at night after the kids are in bed, versus a set time during the day.
I, personally, like distance learning because I can do everything I want to do during the day, and set aside time to study and do school work. I don't have to work around my classes, as though I had to go sit and listen to lectures on campus at a set time for a set length.