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by Nancy Guberti | March 10, 2009

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In today's hectic world, distance learning, or on-line education, is increasingly accepted as a convenient alternative to traditional schooling, providing individuals with the opportunity to study according to their own schedules. Though not the ideal concept for everyone, online learning is definitely worth considering. This may be the way if you are currently employed and want to attain additional certificates or higher education, are a stay-home parent looking to enter a new field or just continue your education, or an individual who travels a lot and cannot commit to scheduled classroom learning.

To truly reap the benefits of online education, one must be motivated, committed, goal-oriented and have the initiative to study independently. Help is only an e-mail or phone call away, but it is crucial that one be able to identify when additional assistance is needed.

The advantages of distance learning are:

  1. You set your own class schedule
  2. You can study anywhere
  3. Private tutoring is available via internet or telephone phone
Exams are either on-line with a time limit or you are directed to a local library to have your exam proctored by the librarian. The proctor will receive the exam, administer it and mail your exam to the school for final grading.

Depending on the school, the course work may be taught via scheduled on-line classes where you get to interact with other students. When this is the case, students log in or join a conference call in order to gain access to the virtual classroom. This allows students to interact with one another and create their own virtual study groups. ~For the less technologically inclined, a more traditional method of distance learning is alive and well. The school sends you all the course materials - books, course learning objectives, lesson manuals and study guides - and you design your own schedule for class time, study time, test time and reviews. Some schools define the time frame for completion of study, others allow you to set your own goals. Whatever plan you choose, be sure you can commit to it. Once started, you should review your progress on a weekly basis and determine if you are aligned with your time goals.

Due diligence is imperative when choosing a school for distance learning. Research several schools to determine the one that best suits your lifestyle. The reputation of the school is equally important. Ask if you can talk with alumni and professors. Inquire into the professional and academic background of the participating professors. Find out about the school's accreditation, and do some research on the organization or association that accredited them - you may even want to call them directly and ask questions.

Since you may not ever get to see the actual school or meet the faculty, you need to research everything before enrolling in a distance learning program. You do not want to waste your money or precious time by enrolling in a school with meaningless accreditation, wacky professors, or useless course objectives.

Due diligence counts!

Happy Learning.

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Filed Under: Education

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