Advantage and Disadvantage of Distance Learning
When discussing the advantage and disadvantage of distance learning, what comes up most often is convenience. It is much more convenient for a person who is currently working full-time to put the kids to bed and go downstairs to attend class. Online learning saves time and gas because there is no commute to the local campus. People who could not otherwise pursue an advanced degree because of time or geographic restraints can attend online classes. The only requirement is a working computer with an Internet connection.
Some of the advantages and disadvantages of online education have to do with cost. Yearly tuition for typical online learning programs is less than tuition at a private college, but more than twice that of a public university. So cost can either be a disadvantage of, or an advantage of distance learning depending on the program or opportunity the student is considering.
Another cost consideration involves employer reimbursement. Not all employers will provide reimbursement for online education. Some limit the amount. Others have established relationships with online learning providers to customize programs for their specific needs, obtain tuition discounts and allow the online learning providers to do a little advertising to their employees.
The advantage and disadvantage of distance learning to the student has to do with offered courses. If a student is interested in academic subjects, like philosophy, then an online education may not be completely satisfactory to him. Online learning providers tailor their programs to fit the job market. They do not seek out the top 25% of a high school graduating class, but the rest of the graduates.
Another of the advantages and/or disadvantages of online education has to do with the individual's learning style. Some students benefit from a traditional class room environment while others do not.
There are a few other things to look at when comparing the advantages and disadvantages of online learning. Online education providers typically offer a lower student to instructor ratio than traditional schools. Many have successful job placement programs. Traditional colleges have research labs and tenured professors, online education providers are generally part-time instructors and there are no research labs.
Just as with any university or college, some online education providers are better than others. Prospective students can check for accreditation with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to see if the school they are looking at is highly credentialed.
Many traditional universities are now offering online programs with the same course content and degree status as their on-campus programs. So since traditional colleges and universities are “learning” the importance of convenience to students, the debate over the advantage and disadvantage of distance learning may soon be a moot point.
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