Distance learning refers to the form of study where learners don’t need to physically attend classes at their enrolled institutions. Last year, many adopted and implemented distance learning owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although its delivery methods vary widely, the study method has become prevalent nowadays as most people look to tap on the potential of the internet and services like webinars. To a great extent, this study method has proved to be a practical and affordable form of learning. The statistics around distance learning best assess its impact and benefits.
Distance Learning Statistics in the United States
- The female gender makes up for more than half of graduate online learners (54%), while the rest are male.
- The virtual learning sector’s value is set to eclipse $275 billion in the next five years.
- Just more than half of the graduates in the US agree that remote learning provides a better experience than classroom learning.
- 93% of households with children yet to complete school took part in either partial or full e-learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Factors Influencing the Choice of the Online Course a Learner Pursues
- 60% of the learners weigh up if the online course is financially affordable.
- 24% of the students consider if the institution offers blended learning for the course.
- 31% of undergraduate students consider learning online the shortest path to getting certification in the course.
- 21% of the learners assess whether or not the requirements of the course are favorable to them.
- 17% of the undergraduate learners consider institutional culture and values.
Benefits of e-Learning
The convenience of location
Virtual learning (or e-learning) allows for learning from any location in the world as long as the academic qualifications are met. Learners and lecturers can work from the convenience of their homes or any other places of choice. Online learning also eliminates the inconvenience and financial burden of traveling long distances to learning centers.
Independence in Time Management
Distance learning, for the most part, lets learners schedule their time appropriately, and as such, they can dictate how their time is spent. This is unlike physical school attendance, where the learner needs to be present as per the dictated time schedules.
The independence in time management also means that the learners get the opportunity to develop time management skills. These are crucial skills that help prepare them to become all-rounded individuals even beyond education.
A less stressful environment
Students who study in institutions have often cited a lot of external academic pressure as a reason for not performing well academically. Institutions often cause undue pressure with strict time schedules, resulting in a stressful environment for the learners.
Distance learning overcomes this challenge by allowing the learner to choose and modify their environment to their liking. The learner can create the most conducive and least stressful environment for their studies.
One of the stand out upsides of distance learning is that it costs much less than physical learning. There are fewer resources required, and the total amount paid to the learning institutions is much less. As a result, the parent can afford the fees much more comfortably. In other instances, learners can also adequately finance their learning.
The Learner Gains Important Soft Skills
Soft skills refer to a combination of desirable non-technical abilities like a positive attitude that influences an individuals’ interaction. Modern learning is keen on ensuring that learners are well equipped with these skills to fit nicely into workplaces and other social settings.
Virtual learning promotes the same by equipping learners with abilities and skills like technological understanding, teamwork, time management, self-discipline, and the ability to take the initiative. These, among many others, help the students in their later life outside academics.
Pros and Cons of Distance Education
Just like with other learning forms, there are two sides to the coin when it comes to remote learning. Some items reflect as positives while others are negative.
Advantages of Distance Education
Here are the pros of distance learning:
- Virtual learning gives the learner a feeling of comfort. Studying from the peace of your home means one can understand well what they are learning. The learner can also switch up the home environment, unlike in the monotonous classroom environment.
- The learner can control the pace of learning. Unlike in the classroom environment where the lecturer has to cater to all the students, online education allows the learner to set independent learning targets. Such targets are created according to the learner’s preferences.
- Online learning does not confine students into learning structures like classrooms. This means learners can easily choose who they want around them or who to interact with.
- The ability to share and connect with others virtually is invaluable. Through online learning, the learner can fruitfully interact with other people regardless of their location or distance apart.
Disadvantages of Virtual Learning
Distance learning is far from perfect. This study form has downsides that include:
- The student gets distracted easily. The lack of a controlled classroom environment has benefits, but it also makes it hard to stay concentrated. A text message or phone call can easily unsettle and sidetrack a learner.
- Some learners, particularly inactive ones, might not wholly develop socially. Even though there are ways of socialization that students grow in online learning, some interaction aspects are not present.
- Online learning does not monitor the time management of the student or support the practical aspect of learning. A student who works well under supervision will be disadvantaged by online learning, as will one who takes a hands-on course.
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