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Friday, August 2, 2019

Why Distance Learning is More Effective Than On-Campus Learning



Online courses and degree programs have become more popular in recent years, and it’s no surprise. With on-campus learning facing a number of issues, like budget cuts, less funding, increasing tuition and fees for students, and lower enrolment rates, it’s easy to see why distance learning is a more attractive option. 

There are still some preconceived notions about studying online, however, including the myth that online courses are easier and you don’t actually learn as much as you would if you were studying in a traditional on-campus classroom. Often times, the syllabus and coursework online are identical to the in-class syllabus and required assignments, with the exception of accelerated programs offered online, which are just condensed versions. Studies also show that online students learn more effectively than on-campus students, and here are some of the reasons why.

Fewer distractions

In a traditional classroom setting, you could be sitting in a lecture hall with hundreds or even thousands of other students, all sitting on their laptops or phones, chewing gum, eating snacks, or talking to their friends. It can be quite a distracting environment, especially if you have a hard time focusing already. If you’re studying online, you can put yourself in an environment that will help you focus, like a library, or at your own home. You can decide where you work and learn best and take advantage of that. 

Furthermore, online courses offer more opportunities for assessment, and rather than have them at specific intervals throughout the course; they’re more of an ongoing process. This can help students stay focused on the coursework and keep them engaged, so they don’t lose focus and get distracted from the course overall. 

Go at your own pace

Online students can learn the coursework at their own pace, rather than having to keep up or slow down with their on-campus classmates. If a student is comfortable with the course material, they can quickly move through the syllabus and move on to the next lesson, which also lessens the time commitment to the program. Some students prefer this option so they don’t have to dedicate as much time and can get back to work or other commitments, like family or volunteer work. On the other hand, if a student needs more time to understand and digest the information, they can revisit a lesson, take their time in understanding, and ask for extra help either from their professor, peers, or by doing outside research online. Both of these methods of learning help with retention rates as well, because if you understand something and take the necessary amount of time to do so, you’re more likely to remember and retain the information over the long term. 

Accelerated programs are also becoming more widely available from schools like Marian University, which offers a program called MPath – a flexible, accelerated program designed for online learners or adults returning to school. More schools are beginning to offer programs like this to better accommodate students and their lives outside of their educational careers. 

More opportunity for communication with the professor

Because of the ongoing assessments, professors can monitor a student’s progress more effectively, and gives the professor an opportunity to step in earlier if help is needed rather than waiting until the final exam or assignment is due. 

Class sizes are also generally smaller for online courses, and there are portals for students and forums where they can engage with professors any time to ask for clarifications or advice. Instead of waiting for a professor’s office hours, or booking an appointment to see them when it’s convenient for their schedule, distance students can communicate directly via these student portals at their convenience. Of course, if you want to have a face-to-face conversation, you most likely will have to schedule a video call, but online instructors are usually more available than on-campus instructors. 

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