Online Learning

Distance Learning Education

Each year it seems that traditional colleges and universities continue to raise the rate of tuition and make it harder for people to gain the education and degree that is required in today’s competitive workforce. And with the economy continuing to change, it can make it hard for anyone to afford a decent education. This creates a vicious cycle that all too many people are unable to extricate themselves from.

Much more than just a bridge to grand opportunities, higher education from a college or university is fast becoming an absolutely necessary element to thrive in today's world. However, for one reason or another, many individuals are unable to attend college classes on a traditional campus. While this used to hold countless aspiring students back, virtually anyone can now go online to get the education necessary to help them achieve great things despite the ever rising level of competitiveness in today's workforce. In fact, the steadily amassing benefits of distance learning education enrollment is growing far more rapidly than enrollment in face-to-face classes.

There are many reasons for this rapid growth but one of the most significant trends that continues to show itself throughout the world of education is that students are learning as well and sometimes even better than their counterparts studying in traditional, physical classroom settings. Another reason for the rapid growth is the high number of students that have to work their way through school. About 58% of all students are working while getting their education. The economy has hindered the ability of many families to fully pay for their children's education, and it has also driven many adults back to school in search of better employment opportunities.

The most popular distance learning education programs tend to be engineering, business, law and health care. High tech industries are accepting online degrees faster than some other fields, but acceptance and recognition of online degrees is occurring in almost all fields. When human resource managers were recently polled, 85% of them felt that online degrees were more accepted now than they were just five years ago.

Distance learning education has also gained acceptance as large, well respected colleges and universities enter the world of online learning. Ivy League schools such as Cornell, Boston University, Harvard and NYU (New York University) have carefully added online classes to their highly respected class offerings. MIT also offers online classes. Some schools offer only online classes with no brick and mortar institution behind it.

Online classes are generally conducted in one of two ways. Asynchronous classes have no specific class times. The work is posted online, and students work completely at their own pace. Synchronous classes meet at regularly scheduled times. Students that need help staying motivated in an online environment sometimes find that synchronous classes are helpful to them.

The federal government has recently lifted restrictions on financial aid for online students. Combined with the boost in enrollment due to the economic recession, online enrollment is expected to rise faster than traditional classroom enrollment going into the future. Colleges and universities are trying to capitalize on this, but the student needs to be aware that older online programs can most likely meet their needs better than new ones.

The best average class size for distance learning education is still being studied. While no determination about the best class size has been made, most educators feel that 30 students or fewer per class is best, and 12 to 25 students is probably optimal. This allows plenty of time for the instructor to adequately address the needs of each student, according to “Online Class Size” by Senor Knowledge, LLC. Still, many colleges and universities have regular class sizes of 400 or more students and are consistently able to provide a quality education.

There are also a number of different methods provided by schools to allow their students to correspond with instructors. The most common are email and chat. Students who had access to their instructor's email address found this useful even after the class was over. Students were able to keep in touch with the instructor for further questions later in their education and were able to contact the instructor for a resume reference.

The technology and support provided by the school is important for the long term success in distance learning education. Schools that have been involved in online learning for a few years have usually implemented better technology for studies as well as communication between students and their instructors. It is important for students to know what technology will be available to them before selecting an online program.

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