How Does Distance Learning Work?

By: Staff Writer

Distance learning has become an increasingly popular way to earn an advanced degree. In recent years, the number of schools offering forms of distance education has raised to over 85%, with many more schools adding online courses and programs everyday.

How Does Distance Learning Work?

Why is distance learning so popular?
Distance education gives students a number of flexible options:

  1. Courses can be taken from home
  2. Different types of class formats
  3. Students can work at their own pace
  4. Distance learning can help save time and money

1. Take Courses From Home

This option allows stay-at-home moms to finish school without hiring a babysitter. People living in remote areas can also take classes without moving. The benefits of taking classes at home are obvious. It’s convenient.

2. How Class Structures Work

There are two types of class formats in distance learning: synchronous and asynchronous.

Synchronous classes give students a real-time, multi-user chat function. Some synchronous classes are set up only for text-based learning, but most classes have an audio/video feed that allows distance education students to watch at regular class times. Students are able to type in questions to the professor and have their questions answered in real time.

In 2001, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that over 50% of distance education schools offered two-way audio and video synchronous classes.

Asynchronous classes are by far a more common form of distance learning. Many prefer these classes because they don’t require real-time video attendance. Asynchronous classes have a more flexible schedule.

In their 2001 study, the NCES reported more than 90% of distance learning schools offered Internet courses using asynchronous computer-based technology. They also reported that 41% of universities used one-way prerecorded video as a primary source of instruction.

3. Work At Your Own Pace

Based on your program schedule you will be able to work at your own pace. Coursework can be done when you have time, allowing single mothers and full-time employees to finish school without working the graveyard shift or hiring a babysitter. Courses can also be completed quickly letting students earn a degree as fast as possible.

4. Save With Distance Learning

Your car, wallet and day planner will be able to take a breather with the time and money you’ll save avoiding campus commutes. Housing will now be dictated by how much you can afford, rather than where you go to school. Distance education can help you to save time and money. The government also offers financial assistance to many students who apply and qualify.