Distance Learning

Before reading through any online college degree course catalogs, you need to evaluate if distance learning is right for you. First off, you need to be serious about getting your degree.

Without the structure a classroom environment provides, it’s easy to get distracted by the daily grind of work, family, friends, etc. It’s not that you can’t still give attention to these other facets of your life, but prepare to cut back on free time in order to focus on your studies.

Secondly, you need to be familiar and comfortable with computers and be prepared to sit at one for several hours at a time as your go through your course load. The growing popularity of online education programs has ignited the need to make learning mediums user friendly, but it is vital that students have a working knowledge of programs such as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), an internet browser. If you are hesitant about using any of these programs, it is recommended to take a tutorial first before registering for distance learning classes. Additionally, you need to be comfortable with reading online textbooks as there is a good chance your course will be taught through ebook format.

Another adaptation is the shift from the physical to the virtual classroom. One benefit of traditional classroom learning is the active brainstorming and energy generated through class debate. While you won’t necessarily be completely cut off from class discussion (think blogging, message boards, and IMing), the distance learning experience is completely different. You will be responsible for ensuring your class participation grade. Each professor will have different requirements, but all students will be required to prove not only their online presence, but demonstrate a working knowledge of the material, just like in a traditional classroom. All that is different is the physical absence of other students and the instructor.

Typically, a person learns in one of three manners – auditory, visual, or kinetic. If you are an auditory learner, meaning that you absorb information best through listening to lecturers and class debates. Visual learners perform better when able to read/watch learning materials. Kinetic learners shine when combining auditory and visual elements and add a third physical element, such as taking notes or practically applying the theorems to realistic situations. In terms of distance learning, visual and kinetic learners tend to succeed more so than an auditory learner.

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