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What's the Hype Over Distance Learning?

Updated on March 7, 2008

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.

Go to the library for more help and resources.
Go to the library for more help and resources.

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.

Advantages of Distance Learning


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    • ViktoriaGrace profile image

      ViktoriaGrace 8 years ago from Atlanta

      Super hub! I'm glad to see another advocate of distance learning education. I wrote one on the advantages of distance learning nursing programs. I like your last comment. It's true. Sometimes an on-site program doesn't fit someones life or personality. Again though, great hub!

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      Lissie- I agree with you. I don't think that I could do the on campus classes. I tried it for a few semesters, and it just wasn't for me. My options were to not do college or get my degree online. I figured online was better than no degree on my resume.

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      I worked in Distance Education for quite a while, as IT support not directly but I did do a number of courses while Iworked there. I don't think I would ever go back to face2face lecturers now - and I have done 6+ years of face-to-face college level study. The main reason is that about 80% of lecturers are boring - its much much quicker to read content than have to listen to it. The only useful thing for face 2 face are the tutorials especially for a technical subject - where you can gain undertanding. I found though that just using email/phone I got as much support as I needed from my online tutors.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      vreccc- that sounds like fun. I'll go check out that hub

      charlotte- you can still do a hub about all the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning. I'd love to feature it in my links capsule at the top if you did.

    • gamergirl profile image

      Kiz 9 years ago from Antioch, TN

      Well, pretty useless for me to write about distance learning now.

      Thanks a bunch, Whitney.

    • vreccc profile image

      vreccc 9 years ago from Concord, NH

      ooohh!!! yeah. There is that side to the profession. My wife is a total animal lover. she has talked of being a vet, but has also mentioned that side of it. We took a trip to Israel where there is alot of stray cats. No one pays any attention to them. My wife bought them food and had a whole group of cats around her. She was like the florence nightengale of cats. All the other tourist were laughing at her.

      You can see out cats at my hub called "funny cats"

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      vreccc- I would have to find a different college other than Troy to get my PhD, or maybe they will have added it by then. I've never realyl been into the idea of being a vet. I've never thought I could handle telling the little old ladies that they 20 year old dog or cat was going to die.

      Bob- thank you.

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

      I am a big fan of distance education, great hub.

    • vreccc profile image

      vreccc 9 years ago from Concord, NH

      Why not go for a PhD???? I can see you as a vet. I'm serious. I'm not just blowing wind. I'd never have my PhD right now if it wasn't several close friends convincing me that I could do it. I've read your work on animals and I think you would be an awesome and caring vet.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      veccc- This one came pretty easy to me, as did my colleges that offer online classes. I hope get my associate's and then bachelors all online. Hopefully, I will still have it in me to go for my masters. It can be draining at times.

    • vreccc profile image

      vreccc 9 years ago from Concord, NH


      I can't believe you got this out so quickly. This is a great hub and you hit on a lot of the important areas. I taught a several sections of an online when I was a masters student and my PhD was earned totally online. It IS real education. I was forced to work a lot harder in my online program than I ever was in a normal brick and mortor class.

      Well done!!!