Last updated: 25.07.12

Distance learning online 'has many benefits for students'

E-learning courses could have a number of benefits when compared against traditional classroom education.

The Southeast Missourian reports that soon after Southeast Missouri State University began allowing students to take classes over the internet, people began to ask if they could complete a degree entirely through distance learning online.

Associate dean for online learning at the university Allen Gathman told the publication that the facility's e-learning courses have been continually in demand from students.

For example, two-thirds of all credit hours undertaken in the university are now performed over the internet, he explained.

Many different people wish to take part in online training, including those who move away during the summer and cannot get to campus to take part in traditional education.

Underemployed or jobless people are taking advantage of e-learning to improve their education during the economic downturn, while other adults become involved in online learning as they wish to create additional opportunities for themselves.

Some people never completed college in the past and are using online learning to pursue their ambitions of attaining a degree, while others might want to improve their promotional prospects by gaining further academic qualifications, the representative continued.

Distance learning online allows students to take classes at a time that suits them, which could be in the early morning following a night-shift, before the children wake up or in other moments of free time.

"A lot of [students] were doing their coursework while I was asleep," Mr Gathman pointed out.

People in jobs are "often unable to make it to traditionally scheduled classes during the workday", he explained, informing the publication that these individuals frequently elect to join a virtual learning environment.

E-learning supports class participation and discussion as it encourages learners to speak on forums about controversial subjects, while students can also be reflective and considerate when conversing over the internet, the online learning specialist declared.

In traditional education, "people are really reluctant to participate in class discussions", he remarked.

However, the university notes that motivation and self-discipline are required for success when participating in online training, stating these courses bring "increased responsibility for time management".