This article contains the steps on how to get the university experience as a distance learning student and the advantages of being a distance learning student.
Sometime ago, I was involved in a discussion with a lady. According to her, one of her greatest desires was to attend the University even after numerous online courses. To her, the University experience was one thing she wouldn’t want to miss out on. Probably to others her reason doesn’t hold water but as one who attended a conventional Institution and experienced campus life, I understood her perfectly.
University is not just a place for the serious study. It is a place to engage and mingle with fellow students meet people from different cultures. There are various opportunities to socialize, study in and join organizations. The highlight of University experience comes from the extra-curricular activities. This explains why the certificate being award at the end of a degree program reads “both in character and learning”. This shows that even the Institution understands that there is more to University experience than classroom activities.
However, life is unpredictable. Due to one factor or the other, not everyone who desires to have a University experience can make it to a class environment. Other times, it may not be as a result of financial challenges but due to unforeseen circumstances just like in the case of the global pandemic that resulted in the lockdown of campuses.
In a situation where enrolling into the University doesn’t work out, a lot of people opt for distance learning.
Distance learning is a method of remote education without the regular face-to-face tutor and student contact. There are different levels of distance learning. At one end are courses delivered entirely online. You never meet your tutor or fellow students face-to-face and may have online tutorials instead. You communicate with your tutor by email or telephone and you learn from textbooks and online resources. In other cases there is a mix of approach with a few face-to-face tutorials and more of online classes.
Whatever be the case, the advantages of distance learning is something to be grateful for.
ADVANTAGES OF BEING A DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENT
Some of such advantages are:
1. Learning Is Flexible
The very interesting thing about online courses is it’s flexibility. In a world filled with choking schedules, online courses give you the opportunity to fit your daily activities and schedules into learning as well. It gives you the opportunity to study at your own pace and time without fear of missing lecturers or even giving up the job that sustains you. In other words, you can fit your learning around your work and home life as well as get to decide exactly when and where you wish to study.
2. Lower Cost
The cost of being a campus student can be very discouraging, especially for those who are not financially capable. You think of spending on accommodation, feeding, transportation etc, but with an online course, it’s a different ball game. You need not to worry over much spending because whatever you may spend cannot be compared to the cost of being a campus student. Therefore, it is wise to note that distance learning courses often cost less than full-time degrees though data subscription.
3. No Commute
You may be forced to argue this but the fact remains that there are University students who live off school campus. Hence, another reason people go for online courses is that it saves one the stress of travelling and moving from house to school.
With online courses, there is no need of rushing to beat traffic on the road, no need to panic on going late for lectures. You take your lectures from any location. This also saves cost.
4. Shorter Duration
Online courses take a shorter time to complete. For individuals who dread the idea of being tied in University for 4 years or more, online courses are your best bets
5. Ease of Access
Unlike studying in campus settings, online courses can be assessed from any location. All that is required is a PC and sometimes an internet connected phone. The course materials, assignments, lectures are very accessible online. Some are sent via email.
DISADVANTAGES OF BEING A DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENT
Regardless of the catchy advantages, whatever has an advantage certainly has a disadvantage. Some of the disadvantages if distance learning are:
1. Lack of One on One Interaction
Online courses do not give room for one on one interaction between students and lecturers. Unlike the traditional setting where students have the opportunity to interact with their lecturers, fellow students and get to ask questions when necessary has a discussion or group study class, online students do not have this privilege.
As a result of this, some online students are left to use their discretion to carry out tasks when instructions are not clearly understood.
Sometimes, the only way out is to create an online group chat which is not always reliable
2. Time Management Issues
No doubt those online courses are flexible in nature but the flexibility is also a disadvantage for students who cannot manage time properly.
As an online student, it is pertinent to have time management skills, learn to schedule and meet up with lectures, assignments etc, else you may just have issues with your courses. However, coping with online courses require personal discipline.
3. Lack of Social Interaction
Going to school gives one the opportunity to socialize and connect with other people. Many individuals have made wonderful friends from school days. Some got connected by some of these friends they met from way back in school.
While the normal campus setting creates room for social interaction, as an online student, there is little or no room for this. This is another reason students find online programs very boring.
4. It Contributes Little or Nothing to the Character of a Student
Have you ever taken time to go through the degree certificate of a university graduate? It reads “Found worthy in both character and learning”. This is so because, University is supposed to shape students not only academically but character wise too.
There are students that entered school much uncultured and manner less and upon graduation, they became better individuals.
While I was in the University, I had lots of disciplined lecturers in my department. I had lecturers whom students dare not dress irresponsibly to their lectures. On various occasions students who dressed irresponsibly were walked out from lectures.
Online students do not pass through this character refining because of the nature of the program. Lecturers do not have personal encounters with the students and as such have no influence over the character of the students.
5. Lack of Traditional School Experience
A traditional school setting refers to any school setting that’s not online related. There is this common statement “Passing through school and school through a person”.
Oftentimes, students are advised not to only pass through school but also allow school to pass through them.
This statement means that there are experiences that campus students are expected to have outside the normal academic experiences. There are real life experiences a campus setting should instill in a student in preparation for the outside world but unfortunately, online students do not have such experiences.
The campus life experience is the major reason most students overlook distance learning.
- Poor Communication
- Lack of complete learning Materials
- Technological issues such as network issues.
- Assimilation difficulties e.g distractions.
The advantages of distance learning are no doubt attractive, but yet, if you carry out a survey, you will discover that most of the students actually wish the reverse was the case as that campus feeling appears to be missing.
TIPS ON HOW TO LIVE THE UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE AS DISTANCE LEARNER
If you’re in the ship of distant learning and find the experience boring, worry not. This article contains Information on how to bridge the gap and have the same feeling as a University student. Here are a few tips in making learning as well as coping with the loneliness way easier for you.
1. USE THE DISCUSSION BOARDS
In a normal University environment, students come in contact with each other at various spots like the hallway, cafeteria, library, lecture theatre, etc. This social aspect of University is one of the most valued experiences by many students but for online students such experiences are not obtainable. However joining a discussion board is one way to have similar experience as though you were in a campus environment. It gives you the chance to form relationships with your fellow classmates as well as to meet new people and help each other out.
2. VOLUNTEER WITH ORGANISATIONS
It is a known fact that those in a university status have the opportunity to connect with numerous people of different strata in the society during social gatherings, in and outside the school environment. However, to get the same experience as an online student, volunteering is a perfect option.
This is where you can really stretch yourself by rendering assistance or serving without expecting to be paid. Here you will find many organizations looking for various capacities to help with certain projects and tasks.
Volunteering doesn’t only give you the opportunity to build your skills as well as get contacts, it also increases your employability as some of the organizations can become references for you at the completion of the tasks.
3. CREATE/JOIN SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Being an online student does not rule out the fact that there can actually be a strong connection between the students. Creating a group is one way to not only carry others along but also helps to build a communication channel. It is also an avenue to brainstorm.
It is also an avenue to easily reach out to your fellow online course mates because they may have important information that you haven’t been briefed about.
To avoid assimilation issues or difficulties, it’s best to find a quiet and serene environment. This is to enable you to experience an easy learning atmosphere therefore making you feel like you’re in actual school environment.
4. SCHEDULE OFFLINE MEETINGS
Sometimes online students usually organize to see each other offline. Therefore, planning on days when you can go to school to meet physically with your lecturers, course mates etc, to discuss on pressing and Trivial Matters is also a good way to helps
Other tips include;
- Always ensure to visit your University Library to make more researches on topics that involve your Area of Academic Specialization. This will also enable you to read ahead and be up to facts in your Classes.
- Asides from the online classes you can liaise with your fellow students to hold Classes through other mediums for example video calls, conference call meetings, social media like WhatsApp and routinely physical meetings.
- Before starting each class or examination make sure your technological devices are properly charged, also make sure it doesn’t have any faults and if any surfaces make sure it’s repaired or properly taken care of and also locate a good area with strong network signal so as to prevent buffering or network glitches.
- Ensure to download your school institution’s App or website so as to get general school information and Memos.
- You will surely find a few of your course mates whom you feel comfortable being around, maximize that feeling by becoming their study partner. Friends surely make the best study partners and therefore make you feel less lonely in your field of study. Having them around will surely motivate you into putting more effort in your academics. Besides, they say “Two or more heads are better than one”.
For a Distance learning student it gets lonely and very discouraging sometimes and this makes the student feel left out on school activities and events. Nonetheless, the difference between a physical student and an online student is the location which has various effects on the distance learning student.
As a distance learner it’s quite important to get the feel of school, because it’s easy to feel relaxed in your home with the warm beds and home cooked meals with special care, you’ll honestly find it much more comforting if you stopped your academic programme to relocate from campus to the house right? But honestly the academic air surrounding school is more than enough energy to get students going. You won’t deny that at times you miss being given deadlines for projects or assignment submission, as bad as it is at times even the occasional impromptu tests.
As a distance learner or online student it may feel convenient at first, getting to do all sorts of things physically while at the same time going through a lecture online, imagine chewing gum while solving a mathematical equation, but doing this in a physical learning environment will obviously and surely get you at least to say a frown from your lecturer, so to say DL (Distance learning) easily permits some school rules to be easily overlooked.
School is not only meant for academic purposes and affairs so distance learning students will not be able to experience the best of the other areas but with the few tips given above there will online students do not really have to bother about missing out on anything.
Check out what is available, implement some of this list into your student life, and your online student experience will feel a lot more like an engaging and active learning community.
You can study undergraduate, postgraduate and professional-level distance learning courses. Universities and colleges make sure their distance learning programmes and qualifications are of the same quality as campus-based programmes so there is really nothing to worry about.
So, are you into distance learning and most times you find the experience boring and silently wish you were in a campus instead, why not take time to apply the helpful tips in this article? Join discussion boards, create or rather, join a social group with your colleagues, and create platforms that will always give you the opportunity to communicate easily with your course mates, volunteer for both online and offline organizations, visit libraries and lots more.
If you do these, you won’t even remember you’re an online student as the experience and feeling will almost be like that of a student in a University Campus.
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