Completing your higher education via distance or online learning has many advantages. If you don’t live within commuting distance of a university or college, you would in the past have had to move closer to for the duration of your studies. Likewise, if you work full time, you probably would have had to quit your job to further your studies. And as for full time family commitments – once those would have forced you to abandon your hopes of higher education. Times have change a lot since then.

Today some of the most prestigious universities and colleges in the world offer a range of their ‘best selling’ degree, diploma and certification courses online. This has allowed many to get the education they want where previously they wouldn’t have been able to. It’s opened career doors and opportunities for them that once didn’t exist because they didn’t have the qualifications and training, and weren’t able to get them. It’s meant we now have highly skilled and accredited professionals in all corners of the world. Obviously, it’s also allowed many to improve their lives considerably too. Better education and higher qualifications invariably helps improve earning potential.

The advantages of studying from home via an online curriculum are many and varied. They include the ability to enroll when most convenient, and work at one’s own pace. Then there is the ultimate convenience and ‘luxury’ of being able to study at home, or wherever it suits. Plus the one we mentioned previously of being able to enroll in courses on the other side of the country, or in another country. Studying online means not having to uproot and move closer to the particular institution, which comes with considerable cost savings. It’s also usually cheaper to enroll in an online degree than to do the equivalent degree on campus because the institution doesn’t have the same overheads to factor in.

Distance Education And E-Learning – The Reverse Side Of The Coin

However, attractive though it is, studying online also has its disadvantages. Chief amongst them is the question – will you actually have the time you need to study properly? It needs to be quality, alone time when you can focus on what you have to do without distractions. That could be a tall order if you are responsible for bringing up a family, or have a very heavy work schedule. Are you the type of person who can ignore all the many distractions that invariably crop up when you’re home? Every time you give in to the urge to grab a cup of coffee for instance you’re breaking your focus, and possibly even using it as an excuse to procrastinate.

Can you effectively study on your own? Many people work best when surrounded by others who can act as sounding boards for exchanging ideas and information. If you’re studying online, you’ll have to be your own sounding board, and do your research by yourself. You won’t have face-to-face contact with your lecturer, and other students.

However, having said that, your lecturer is typically only an email or message away, and many institutions have discussion boards and forums where students can interact with each other online. Some distance learning courses also have an in-person component, meaning that you must spend a certain amount of time on campus in order to complete this section. This is typically the case for certificate courses in sectors like the fire services where you are expected to demonstrate hands on competency around things like equipment use. An online Fire Officer 1 class for example includes this, and the service provider usually has arrangements with campuses where their students can attend a set one-day program to meet this part of the training.