The traditional school desk is being replaced by a kitchen table. The educational shift is known as on-line (or distance) learning, where all a student essentially needs is a computer and a high-speed Internet connection. Sometimes, you they may carry some aids such as a 3D drawing pen , rulers, Plasticine and so on.
Such education is similar to a correspondence course, where the student receives a course pack of materials and learns at home. The format can seem very appealing; however, it also has its drawbacks. On-line learning can be effective for those students who live at a distance from the educational institution. Traveling time, fuel and maintenance costs as well as wear and tear on a vehicle may be excessive and will often make daily commuting to and from classes impossible. Who wants to be on the road at 6:00 a.m. and drive for a couple of hours to arrive for an 8:00 a.m. class? Inclement weather would dramatically slow that commute.
On-line learning also offers tremendous flexibility to students; while there are deadlines to complete assigned readings and write tests, one can make one’s time his/her own. Reading textbook chapters can be done at 3:00 in the morning or 3:00 in the afternoon. If there is noise in the house, one can wear noise cancelling ear plugs and continue reading.
Such flexibility may strongly appeal to single parents (who can save childcare costs by remaining at-home), full-time employees or even adult caregivers. Mature students may not feel comfortable returning to a school setting and could prefer this method of study. Students are not restricted to studying at-home either; they can pack up their laptops and visit their public library or sit on their patio on a pleasant day. On-line course offerings work well for educational institutions as it cuts full-time teaching salary costs.
On the downside, on-line students need to be strongly focused. As one can imagine, it can be quite easy to be distracted when studying at-home by the telephone or the television, resting on the couch or raiding the refrigerator. That invitation from a friend to join him/her for a coffee will often sound far more attractive than hitting the books. Distance students must also be very self-motivated as there is no instructor or fellow classmates to provide support. Distance students cannot also easily raise their hand to ask a question; while on-line courses are overseen by an instructor, he/she is often only available via e-mail and not immediately handy to interact with.
“Homework”, therefore takes on a whole new meaning where the entire course will be completed at home. Before tackling this challenge, talk to someone who has completed the course for an opinion, if possible. Then, carefully consider your own character, study habits and reasons before registering. The format may or may not be right for you.