Taking The Loneliness Out of Distance Learning
Online and distance learning can be an isolating experience. Without frequent face-to-face interaction with other students, online learners often feel that they are alone and have nowhere to turn if they run into difficulties with their studies. Although tutors will often be available for help and support, the absence of in-person communication and interaction can make online learning feel overwhelming lonely. How can you make online learning a less isolating experience?
Seek out other students
On some distance learning courses, you may have the opportunity to exchange contact details with students who studying the same course as you. While geographical location may prevent you from meeting your fellow students on a face-to-face basis, having the opportunity to email other students or speak to them on the telephone can be a great opportunity to discuss problematic aspects of the course material. If nothing else, having a chance to communicate with your fellow students can help to counteract the loneliness that often plagues online learners.
If this opportunity is not present for your course, there are still ways to seek out other online learners. For example, you can search the Internet for forums that are related to online and distance learning. It is highly unlikely that the students who are participating in these types of online discussions will be studying the same course as you or even the same subject matter, but many online and distance learners find it beneficial to get involved in forums and online message boards as a way of interacting with people who are experiencing a similar situation to themselves.
Leave the house often
Many online learners increase their isolation by confining themselves to the house until assignments have been submitted or examinations have been revised for. This may seem like the best course of action to increase your chances of success, but it also makes it more likely that you will feel overwhelmed and can lead to 'burning out' as a result. To avoid this possibility, you need to strike a balance between studying and making time for yourself. Spending time with friends and family is a good way to counteract the loneliness of online learning as it provides a chance to inject some socializing into your life.
If there are any opportunities to meet up with fellow students, take advantage of these as they are an ideal way to temporarily kill the isolation of online and distance learning. This may involve the occasional face-to-face tutorial and residential school, or it may be the result of students making their own arrangements to get together. Either way, arranging to meet fellow students can also be a chance to get to grips with course material through in-person discussions. This can offer a different perspective on the course material, which can then help with your studies. If nothing else, many online learners feel that they would benefit from spending time with like-minded individuals who understand what they are going through.
Look into part-time work
Online and distance learning courses tend to be flexible in structure to reflect the fact that many students have work and family commitments outside of the course. Because of this, taking an online course makes it easier to fit part-time employment around your studies. As well as giving you the opportunity to earn some extra money while you are a student, taking a part-time job gets you out of the house and breaks the isolation of online learning. If you choose a job that will require you to interact with other people (for example, if you seek part-time employment in a shop or other environment in which you would have to serve the general public), you have the chance to break up the monotony of distance learning.