Advantages and Disadvantages of Distance Learning

If you're considering online education, e-learning or taking any course or program via online learning, it's worthy to note that this is all regarded as distance learning and there are a few aspects that you need to be aware of, primarily the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning.

But contrary to what many people believe, the value gained from the advantages far more outweigh the disadvantages.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning?

Advantages of distance learning to the learner:

  • Distance learning does not require commuting. This saves you money and time that you would otherwise spend on travel back and forth to school. You can schedule learning around other aspects of your personal and professional life.
  • You can complete most of the classes at your convenience. Most of the classes are asynchronous, which means you don't have to attend a lecture at a particular time and place. You can review the assignments and do your homework during off-hours or from home.
  • Live anywhere, study from anywhere while pursuing the education of your choice. You don't have to live in the same city or the same country to attend the learning institution of your choice. You can study wherever you have access to a computer and Internet connection.
  • Gain extra knowledge. You can transfer the computer and Internet skills that you'll gain in the process of your distance learning experience to other facets of your life.
  • Self-paced learning. For slow and quick learners. This reduces stress and increases satisfaction.
  • Accessibility. Online classes address physical accessibility issues that some people with limited mobility encounter when taking traditional classes. You don't have to worry about gaining access to a classroom or sitting on uncomfortable desks. Instead, you can use your comfortable furniture in your home while enjoying free movement and a chance to further your education.

Disadvantages of distance learning to the learner:

While thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning, pros and cons, one may wonder if there are any distance learning disadvantages. Yes there are several among them:

  • Costly and complex technology. Despite the many opportunities of distance education, there are inevitable accompanying costs. Live video communication for example, requires careful planning of the equipment and facilities. For online learning, you must own a computer (with access to the Internet). This required technology is not always available. Some learners may also be afraid (technophobic) of technology.
  • Advance planning. Both the instructors and students involved in distance learning may need to make sacrifices at times to get things done in time.
  • Hidden costs. If you work for the military for example, and you are on the ship, how do you get your materials? They may need to be mailed in advance incurring extra shipping and handling costs.
  • Distance learning does not offer immediate feedback. In a traditional classroom setting, a student's performance can be immediately assessed through questions and informal testing. With distance learning, a student has to wait for feedback until the instructor has reviewed their work and responded to it.
  • Distance learning does not always offer all the necessary courses online. Students pursuing a specific certificate or degree program may not have all the necessary courses available through distance learning so it is not suited for all subjects. While you can study a history lesson completely online, you cannot perform nursing clinicals online. Thus physical classroom attendance will be necessary to complete the course.
  • Distance learning degrees may not be acknowledged by all employers. Although most employers do acknowledge distance learning, certain employers do not. Students who want to work for a specific employer upon graduation should be sure of that employer's perspective about online education.
  • Distance learning does not give students the opportunity to work on oral communication skills. Students in distance learning courses do not get the practice of verbal interaction with professors and other students.
  • Social isolation. Most often you'll be studying alone. Distance learners may feel isolated or miss that social physical interaction that comes with attending a traditional classroom. However this impersonality has been lessening with advances and use of communication technologies such as bulletin boards, threaded discussions, social networking, chats, email and video conferencing.

Based on your unique circumstances, you can compare the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning over traditional learning, while also taking into consideration your learning style, and decide which type of education is right for you.

If you're considering to earn your education by distance learning and you're not sure where to begin, we have listed here some of the top schools with online degrees in the United States that you can consider and request information to help make an informed decision.

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