The concept of distance learning may sound strange to some people as they may not have heard of it before. Some interpret it literally, while others try to give it a conceptual meaning, and most times, they lose the true idea. The big question arises; What is distance learning?
Distance learning can simply be said to be a means or method of learning which does not involve the regular face to face interaction with a tutor or lecturer in the four walls of a classroom. In many countries, distance learning is carried out through learning processes such as discussions and interactions.
In the world today, a statistical record of over 200,000 students get their first degree through distance learning courses, and a good number of postgraduate students are not left out.
The introduction of the use of the Internet and predominant increase in operations of electronic devices has contributed a whole lot to the growth and development of studying and tuition through distance learning.
For undergraduate students, distance learning entails the involvement of students in the learning process through materials they can easily use at home or at their workplace. The university or college produces these materials and sends them directly to the student through various means such as their emails and text messages or they can easily get them on the web or internet, thanks to innovation.
Tutorials can also be carried out using a virtual means of learning, email, telephone, or other available electronic options. Direct contact or face-to-face contact with tutors and teachers may also take place occasionally, as well as attending extra classes.
In most countries, the availability of Open Universities provides an amazing platform for distance learning students to benefit from.
That one is enrolled in a distance learning institution does not mean one cannot experience the regular university life and make the most out of it. Like we earlier stated, the major difference between the two is the face to face contact.
Certain individuals are of the opinion that distance Learning is absurd and the normal method of education is the physical interaction between tutor and student. Innovations has proven this wrong as virtual learning is a blessing to the education sector and has proven to be successful beyond reasonable doubt. But, this is a challenge for most students as they consider distance learning to not only be stressful but insufficient.
To this set of students, it’s not an easy task to juggle being a student with carrying out other commitments. The major challenge of a distance student is avoiding distractions and being motivated to be successful despite all odds. Another challenging factor is the traditional norm and ideology that restricts the learning process to physical contact in the confinement of a classroom.
As an amateur in the world of distance learning, motivation and passion is the driving force.
Situations may differ for unique individuals, however, it is important to seize the opportunity of learning at an unrestricted environment and soar. Some of the benefits of distance learning include increased collaboration and networking between different individuals and idea-sharing thus serving as a means of exposure to varying perspectives and ideas.
The distance learning avenue is a community where connections are made and networks built.
The major setback to distance learning is often poor unstable internet connections for students living in certain unreliable areas. This set of students are often deprived of the opportunity to harness the numerous advantages of distance learning. Therefore, when opting for a course in distance learning, it is important to consider easy accessibility to the internet.
Timetable and course outlines help distance learning students to plan and navigate their activities to fit into the study plan or schedule. This is one unique benefit of distance learning.
WAYS ON HOW TO GET UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE AS A DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENT
Some of the simple ways to enjoy your time as a distant learning student while having a University experience  include the following:
1. Participate fully in your coursework
Like all feet institutions, distance learning offers courses that may seem difficult to some, but are indeed an easy fix. Rather than feel inferior about your distance learning courses, it is advisable to get a tutor or an instructor to put you through the courses. Maintain organization and self-discipline and you’ll discover that the learning experience is just as fun as being in the university classroom.
2. Don’t rush your work
Just because you receive classes online does not necessarily mean they are easier than regular classroom courses or can be completed in a matter of seconds. It is indeed true that unlike courses in class where you have to get to class and submit your work, distance learning courses can be sent through various platforms. However, it is necessary to also consider it a process that requires time and dedication in completing the task and not anything leader than regular face to face classes.
3. Engage your teachers in conversations and questions
Rather than just be a passerby student, it is essential to engage in meaningful conversations with your instructors and tutors. In this case, you’re not bound by limitations and it is just about the same thing as being in a classroom setting. To excel and get good grades, it is important for the student to have a good interaction with tutors and fellow students as well so as to broaden their knowledge and learn more. Don’t just assume that questions are prohibited because the courses are offered online. The proper tertiary learning experience requires constant communication with the instructor and a sense of encouragement for students to ask questions. This isn’t just a university thing, it is a standard for education and should be treated as such. So you see you aren’t any different from those learning in the four walls of a classroom. It’s basically the same experience.
4. Experience first hand the technology to be utilized
The feeling of having to use something you aren’t used to can be disastrous. It gets worse if your time for submission is limited and the deadline is so close. Courses in distance learning programs have a high statistical rating of more dropouts, mostly because students don’t complete their courses swiftly, they wait until it’s rush hour or last minute and become discouraged and frustrated as they are running late on their schedule. To be an efficient student, take the extra step to acquire helpful videos and instructional tutorials available and within your reach.
Completing tasks and assignments on time helps you better excel and get grades and this is a lot easier when you can easily use the technology made available. Get acquainted with the technology and the necessary things to be done, to avoid a repeat of a rush-hour submission.
5. Make the careful choice of your project partners and colleagues
If you’re chanced to make the choice of who gets to work with you, it is advisable not to let this opportunity just slide so easily. Just like in a typical university setting, it is important to choose those you work with and aim towards succeeding together. Same is applicable in this case as you have to, first of all, identify other students who are excellent in their activities, from interacting with them and observing them, then form a team with the smart ones. When it’s time to execute projects, you’ll be grateful your team is full of people who are productive and valuable, who make meaningful contributions, rather than have liabilities and people who tend to drag you back on the team.
6. Use calendars and alarms to meet deadlines and milestones
Another effective way to be successful as a distance learning student is by practising good organisational skills. It is important to plan for your academics, just like a regular student would, by getting your timetable and course plan and keeping records of important dates and schedules on your calendar. That you’re a distance learnqing student doesn’t spare you the consequences of late submission or skipping lectures. It even gets stricter in distance learning cases because learning is less social than that of a classroom environment. The point to call here is to avoid making excuses and enjoy your experiences as they present to you.
7. Be active
It is the responsibility of online tutors to structure trainings and exercises for students to learn from their knowledge and experience socially, rather than just leave them. Through collaborative interactions and projects, it is possible to learn valuable contents. Rather than feeling left out, taking hold of what situations present and seizing available opportunities gives you the same experience as classroom lectures.
It is often said that in the university, you get a chance to make out whatever you want from life. Same goes for distance learning. A change in the mindset and emotional limitation to the four walls of a classroom block makes the difference. While you learn online, it is more flexible as you can juggle academics with other activities while maintaining a good balance between the two. By this, you’re not different from the regular university student.
 Sasikumar, S. (2020, September 22). How to fully engage with university life while studying online. IDP Education; IDP Global. https://www.idp.com/global/blog/how-to-engage-university-online-study-covid-19/