The rise of technology in today’s schools has brought new opportunities for both teaching and learning. Most modern classrooms have long had access to computer labs that have allowed students to learn essential digital literacy skills in preparation for higher education and their future careers.
Distance learning has brought fresh ways to utilize technology for classroom instruction, and it’s an approach that can be successful no matter the grade level you teach, or your experience level with technology.
In this article, we’ll cover the details of distance learning, along with the many benefits that you and your students can reap when using this new approach to education.
What is distance learning?
The idea behind distance learning is pretty straightforward: With the help of technology, you can teach remotely and allow your students to complete their coursework from anywhere in the world. This can be particularly useful during times when students typically can’t be physically present at school, such as during heavy snow seasons — or, as is currently the case, during nationwide lockdowns due to a pandemic. Distance learning can also be used under normal circumstances, and it actually offers many benefits and advantages over traditional methods.
But what exactly are the benefits of distance learning? Here’s a look at how distance learning can make education more fun and enriching.
5 advantages of distance education
1. Freedom & flexibility
A distance learning program gives students and teachers the freedom to attend “school” no matter where they are in the world.
Most, if not all, traditional classroom activities can be performed remotely through distance learning. So, if you have to work from home once in a while, this means you can avoid having to hire a last-minute substitute teacher. And for students recovering from illness or injury, distance learning means they don’t have to worry about returning to a stack of homework at school. Instead they can complete assignments remotely, at a pace they have worked out with their teachers.
Another benefit of distance learning directly affects students. Since the remote school days are less structured, students have more freedom to work through their class material at a more leisurely pace. So instead of pushing through stressful moments and having their scores potentially suffer, kids can put their pencils down and take a breather until they’re ready to revisit their schoolwork for the day.
The best part of distance learning is there’s no class to disrupt while students do other activities, like sports or spending time with family, so test scores and overall class grades could greatly benefit with little to no downsides.
Another critical thing to remember is that not all students are as productive in the morning. Just like adults, some students are morning people, while others find themselves to be more productive in the evening hours. Distance learning affords students the freedom to complete their instruction and their assignments during the time when they feel most productive, which is likely to improve their grades and morale.
Distance learning helps teachers, too. Since your educators will be spending less time doing things like correcting students’ behavior and reigning in the class to pay attention to a lecture, there will be more time to dedicate to other important areas of their job, such as lesson planning and grading papers. That way, your teachers can wake up fully charged and ready to take on their day.
Modern schools have had to make room in their budget to help all students be able to access the schooling they need. With distance learning, there is no need to arrange for transportation since all work and teaching is completed remotely. This eliminates the stress of missing the school bus and allows students to be more relaxed and ready to get their work done.
The comfort of your own home is likely one of the places where you can be the most relaxed. With distance learning, your classroom is whatever room you decide to work in that day. It can be your bedroom, dining room, office area, or even outside. Being able to teach and learn without the constraints of sitting in a chair in the same place for several hours a day is a big plus since it lowers stress levels, which can increase concentration and productivity.
Being able to have control over the learning environment also reduces distractions while learning. Since kids are offered the opportunity to work independently, the chances of frequent disruptions from their classmates are almost entirely eliminated. Students can focus on their schoolwork without having to worry about being distracted by the outbursts of their classmates.
On the other hand, children who need an outlet to express their energy can hit the pause button while they burn off steam outside or switch gears to a less brain-intensive activity for a while. Having the freedom to structure the day according to their needs allows students to focus on their schoolwork and see better overall academic performance regardless of their grade level.
3. Cost and time effectiveness
This one should come as no surprise: distance learning saves your school time and money!
This is mainly because distance learning cuts overhead costs. Since there is no school building to maintain with distance learning, those funds can be allocated to areas that need more attention. For example, the funds that are usually set aside to pay for things like maintenance and utilities can instead be spent on upgrades for computers and tablets so that students and teachers are always learning on the most up-to-date systems available.
Distance learning also saves time. Since there is no commute to make each morning, students and teachers can get a little extra sleep in the morning. This allows them to wake up feeling ready to tackle the day. Also, having to navigate between classes is completely eliminated, which carves out spare time to focus on more pressing matters during the day. Teachers also benefit from more time for one-on-one sessions with students and their planning period.
4. More learning options
Distance learning gives students and teachers more learning options since there are no district borders to abide by. In the past, only wealthy families were able to pick and choose where their children went to school. Thanks to distance learning, more families are able to select the best possible fit for their children, which means that students who are enrolled in your programs are more likely to be successful overall.
Distance learning looks different for each teacher. Teachers can engage older students by incorporating social media sites such as Instagram or Facebook into their lesson plans. This intertwining of social life and school life gives students a new take on learning, which ultimately makes school more relevant in their eyes. Consequently, students are more engaged in the things they are learning and still have the opportunity to make personal connections with their teachers and other classmates that are so vital during their school years.
5. Less bullying
Unfortunately, bullying is all too common on school grounds. Even though almost every school has an anti-bullying policy, class sizes and the sheer number of students can make bullying more difficult to control. Distance learning allows schools to monitor the interactions students have, since all of their communication is limited to discussion boards and the inbox built into your learning management system (LMS). This results in potentially lower bullying rates across the board.
If the need arises to investigate a bullying claim, distance learning makes the job much easier. Since most virtual school interactions can be traced via messaging apps and video calls, the task of investigating bullying incidents is no longer a he-said-she-said ordeal. Administrators can take appropriate actions to notify parents and correct students’ behavior with definitive proof of what occurred during school hours and beyond.
Less bullying in school leads to higher productivity levels, as well as increased morale across the board. Suicide rates for children in grade school are also dramatically reduced when bullying is appropriately handled, meaning more kids are able to enjoy their childhood and grow into well-rounded, happy adults. Every child deserves to have the opportunity to learn in a bully-free environment where they feel safe and loved. Distance learning bridges many of the gaps that traditional learning leaves.
Final thoughts: Distance learning
Schools that offer their students the opportunity to engage in distance learning provide many benefits to administration, students, and teachers. Freedom, flexibility, accessibility, and time- and cost-effectiveness are all notable benefits of distance learning. Going virtual could also improve test scores, student productivity, and student morale. While there are always downsides to every method of learning, you can be sure that distance learning has tons to offer you, your staff, and your students.