How Does Distance Learning Come into the Mix?

The field of distance learning has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception. Online courses, in their original form, were broadcast via satellite television or two-way video and audio systems. By the beginning of the nineties, online enrollments across the nation totaled less than 200,000 college students. By mid 2005, the number of enrollments in distance education programs had reached nearly 3,000,000 college students. Over time, the technology changed allowing more students to easily access courses. Thus, online courses migrated to the Internet and instruction began through learning management systems.

Online College Courses

Over time, distance learning has presented several new possibilities to education. Convenience and flexibility have consistently shown up at the top of students’ priority lists. When distance education began to cater to these priorities, a diverse group of students began to enroll in online courses. Today, online learning attracts the interests of graduate, undergraduate and non-traditional students alike. The result, according to the U.S. Department of Education, was the establishment of distance learning programs at 56 percent of all 4 and 2 year institutions in 2000-2001. Forty percent of all institutions offered distance education courses at the undergraduate level and 22 percent at the graduate level. In more recent years, these numbers have jumped across the board.

As the distance learning industry grows, its benefits to students continue to increase as well. The following is a list of the most common advantages of distance education:

1)Flexibility, Flexibility, Flexibility
2)Learning at your own pace
3)No commute
4)Enhanced interaction with faculty and fellow students
5)Easy access to content materials or class archives
6)Greater ability to reach a global audience
7)Access to a wide variety of academic research and supplementary resources
8)Experience with telecommunications and other technology

Free Information Regarding Online Courses

Distance Learning Makes Its Mark

In the January edition of USDLA Today, distance learning was designated as appealing to “every imaginable kind of student.” Online education has managed to open itself up to a variety of ages, ethnicities, learning styles, degree levels and locations. Convenience has proven to be one of the highest advantages of this new mode of education. Enabling students to mold education to their personal schedules, distance learning is being embraced by waves of individuals who thirst for more knowledge. The USDLA Today article continues on to report, “It [distance education] provides huge advantages for working adults who can’t fit traditional classroom schedules into work and family life. Students who may be very quiet in a classroom may be very participatory online given the time to thoughtfully respond to questions.”

Indeed, online instruction and distance education have enjoyed great success in recent years. As more students enroll in distance education programs, even more information about online education’s benefits will come to light. In fact, in response to a recent NCES survey, participants of various distance learning programs identified several reasons for enrolling in an online or distance learning program. Their reasons included:

1)To refine and increase professional skills related to field
2)To learn new skills related to field
3)To gain additional education required for advancement or promotion
4)To change career fields
5)To achieve certification or licensure in specific area of profession

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