Our education systems have had to respond to COVD-19 on a very short notice. The go-to solution? Distance learning. Yet for many, this is a new domain — and naturally, students, parents, and administrators want to know the benefits.
In our guide to remote education, we went over some of the things you can do to streamline distance learning in your virtual classroom. Now, we’ll shift the focus and look at why distance education may actually be a good thing for you and your students.
7 advantages of distance learning courses
1. It’s flexible
A key benefit of distance learning is flexibility. This benefit encouraged many educators to shift to distance learning after the coronavirus outbreak since e-learning allows students to continue participating in class without having to be physically present.
Here are just some of the ways distance education offers greater flexibility than a traditional classroom setting:
- Teachers and students can adapt learning to their personal schedules
- Some parents can adapt their schedules to assist their children with distance learning since physical teachers are not present, but we also understand this is a difficult task for parents.
- Distance learning can cater to a student’s productivity needs. For example, maybe a student lacks focus in the morning but pumps out most of their work in the evening. Unlike traditional classes, distance learning doesn’t require students to be on call at a specific time.
- In a distance learning classroom, students don’t share their learning space with 20+ other students and can send emails with their questions to teachers whenever they need to.
- There’s also flexibility when it comes to study materials. Distance learning often only requires a phone or computer and a stable internet connection.
Distance learning can have some perks for students with special needs, including:
- An individualized and self-paced learning process that accommodates students with ADD or learning differences.
- Accommodations for students with physical disabilities, when commuting and moving from class-to-class is an issue.
- More accessible solutions, like tools for the hearing impaired and an option to pause, rewind, or slow down lecture videos.
Online education continually adapts to students with specific learning needs. Doing so is much more difficult when you’re in a physical classroom and have to manage multiple students’ needs simultaneously.
3. It eliminates the commute and hassle of getting to class
All teachers and administrators have been there: Your alarm didn’t go off, your car didn’t start, (fill in a million other things that could affect your commute here), and you show up to class — not only late — but frazzled and with crazy hair.
Having to get to a physical location can put a strain on students and adults. With distance learning, that’s no longer an issue. Roll out of bed to your computer in your pyjamas? No problem!
4. It saves time
One of the best pros of distance learning is that it saves you time over the course of the day:
In a traditional school, a teacher oversees a whole class of students who raise hands, ask for feedback, pass notes, chat with their friends — you know the deal. And all these distractions take up time. In distance learning, although there may be live video classes, a lot of the content remains available 24/7, including live-recorded class lectures, resulting in fewer interruptions compared to a traditional setting.
Moreover, if your school is making use of preexisting curricula and learning materials or an LMS system, then you could easily save time compared to planning and replanning lessons based on a traditional schedule.
Students save time, too. If they’re doing well, they can move ahead; otherwise, they can slow down and take their time with the material.
5. It offers more networking opportunities
Another pro of distance learning is it opens up a world beyond the typical classroom. For older students, this is a huge perk, especially those in high school and college who might be on a job hunt. Through distance learning, students can get in touch with experts in their field of interest, numerous teachers and professors, and much more.
6. It allows students to hone their time-management skills
Distance learning caters to a variety of learners, including the procrastinator and anticipator. It’s up to the student how and when they will get their assignments done. And regardless of whether that’s a week or day before the due date, the process mostly depends on the student.
This responsibility differs from the more monitored traditional classroom, where all students are expected to do the same work at the same times on the same days. For the most part, there are no rigid schedules with online learning beyond assignment due dates, so students have a greater say in how they complete their schoolwork. This helps them practice good time-management skills that will serve them well in college and into adulthood.
7. It helps students develop their technical skills
Tech-savvy individuals are in high demand in the workplace. And the majority of distance learning programs use some mode of technology for content delivery.
Distance learning programs promote these technical skills that are relevant to many occupations:
- Online research
- Word processing
- Video conferencing
- Slide presentations
- Discussion boards
- Collaborative apps (like Slack)
- Social networking
- Email correspondence
- Post info to a Wiki/website/blog
- Video creation
According to the 2018 independent task force report The Work Ahead, “Nearly two-thirds of the 13 million new jobs created in the U.S. since 2010 required medium or advanced levels of digital skills.” So there’s no denying it: Online literacy is the future, and distance learning promotes those skills.
Distance learning is here to stay
There’s no way around it: COVID-19 changed our world, and the future of education will never be the same. Distance learning may be part of our “new normal,” and instead of seeking the downfalls, it’s time to shift our perspective and reap the rewards.
Like any other medium, distance learning is not perfect, but it can easily compete with traditional classroom instruction if implemented properly.
Photo credit : Google for Education