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7 Challenges To Be Aware Of When Considering Distance Learning

by Kelly Walsh on May 4, 2011


Despite online learning courses being a great option for many, there are some down sides to be aware of.

These challenges can affect your chances of success, so it’s important to be aware of them before getting started with online education.

These factors include …

  • Online courses require the use of both the internet and a computer, so those that embark on such must have access to these, and knowledge of appropriate skills and technologies, in order to complete the program. If you are not computer-literate or don’t have ready access to appropriate technology, then online education may not be the best route to take (although many of today’s face to face courses require the use of these tools these as well, just not as extensively).
  • If you require an extra push to complete work, you may struggle with online classes as there is no one there to tell you when to do the work, and no pre-determined timetable to stick to. You have to be very self-motivated.
  • Not being able to complete one-to-one sessions with a tutor. Since everything is conducted online there are usually few if any chances available to talk with a teacher face to face (unless there are opportunities provided for communicatoin via tools like Skype).
  • Even though online courses are growing in both status and popularity there are still certain perceptions and reputations attached to this particular method of learning. Fortunately, they have become increasingly accepted and are gradually becoming mainstream.
  • Those that are very social may not prefer this particular learning method, as distance learning offers little if any social interaction. You will probably only interact with classmates via email, chat rooms, or discussion groups.
  • There is little support available to students – those partaking in online courses are often expected to find their own resources in regards to completing assignments and other online work.
  • There is no campus atmosphere, which many consider a major part of the college experience. Despite distance-education being extremely flexible, it is a rather “solo” experience.

If you feel you are prepared to take on these challenges, or that some of them are not an issue for you, well then what are you waiting for … enroll in an online course today! If, on the other hand, you are concerned about some of these challenges, consider yourself forewarned and forearmed.

Do you have any other considerations you think should be listed here? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts!

This post was co-written with guest writer Bridget Knapp, a freelance writer covering the converging worlds of technology and education.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
5 Emerging Tech Trends for K-12 Education, from The Journal
The Changing Dynamic of Online Education
Future of Education Technology (post category)


Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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