Distance learning has been popular more than ever in the current era. More and more universities and colleges are also now using distance learning in the popular hybrid mode of education.
While it was a necessity at the time, many higher education institutions decided to keep this model and allow their students to take their classes and pass their exams online.
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, distance learning has certainly became more widespread and popular than ever.
But, one question remains open – is distance learning a good model for higher education students?
The truth is, there are pros and cons to distance learning in higher education. Below, we’ll discuss both sides of this coin.
Distance Learning in Higher Education: Pros
What are the benefits that both students and teachers experience when it comes to distance learning? How does this model of education enhance the overall quality of higher education? Let’s find out.
Before distance learning, students could only attend colleges they were able to be physically close to. They’d either have to move away from home to another city or even change the state or country. To follow your education dreams, you have to consider the geographical factor.
Distance learning removes this factor from the equation.
That means that higher education has become more available to students, no matter where they live. This opened new doors of possibilities for students to truly study what they want.
- Fewer Expenses
Students who attend college in-person need to face a number of expenses that are inevitable. That includes:
- apartment rent/dorm room cost
- textbooks & supplies
But, for students who are attending college remotely, these expenses don’t apply. They get to stay at home and learn from digital materials online. In fact, a 2021 study shows that for 55% of students’ affordability is one of the three top reasons why they choose online education.
- Saving Time
When you’re a distant learner, you get to save a lot of time on activities you would typically have to do for in-person education. They can be time-consuming and take up most of your day.
As a distant learner, you can skip these things that might seem trivial when looked at individually, but are significant when looked at as a whole.
So, you wouldn’t have to get dressed and pack to leave the house, commute, or spend time at your college before and after class. Also, with all the materials available to you online, you wouldn’t need to bother the teacher or your peers to share the materials or help you get your copy.
Finally, and this is a big one – students get to be flexible in the way they study and organize their time around college obligations. With all the materials being available online and with most classes having a video recording of lessons, students can adapt their study process to their lifestyle. A lot of online learning platforms have integrated courses of universities to make lives easier for all involved.
That means they can choose:
- what time of day to read the materials and study
- how quickly they want to go through the lessons
- how they’ll combine college with their personal schedules
Flexibility allows more students to attend college regularly, even if they’re working full time or have families to take care of. It’s a huge advantage for students’ productivity, motivation, and overall success.
Distance Learning in Higher Education: Cons
Naturally, not everything about distance learning is perfect. There are disadvantages to this learning model and we’ll break them down in this section.
- Lack of Socializing
People are social beings and need the company of others to feel fulfilled and emotionally stable. When we’re surrounded by people who think alike, share the same problems, or are experiencing the same thing as we are, we instantly feel better. The same goes for students.
Distance learning deprives students of the social benefits of attending college. You don’t get to meet new people, spend time with them, build friendships, and go through things together. You do meet people online, but it can never be the same as in person.
- No Teamwork
With the distance learning model, it’s highly unlikely that teachers will assign group projects to students and have them collaborate on any assignments. Instead, every student works individually.
This deprives students of building teamwork skills and learning how to behave in a group activity. Students who don’t know how to handle an assignment on their own can look for professional help, like essays for sale online. But, in a team of people, you can learn from each other and come up with the best solutions together.
- Indirect Communication with the Teachers
Distance learning creates an invisible barrier between the students and their teachers or instructors. The lack of physical contact sets them apart and it can be hard to get the feedback or help you need to finish the course successfully.
Students communicate with teachers via email, but that means they need to:
- wait for the response
- try and figure out the tone of the response
- ask follow-up questions in a new email
- waste a lot of time in the process
It would be much easier to visit the teacher during office hours and get everything done in five minutes.
As you can see, there are both pros and cons to distance learning in higher education. The only question is- what are the most important factors for you? What do you expect from your college experience?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll know whether you’re the right fit for this educational model.