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In the past, critics of the online learning format viewed distance education with much skepticism. They believed this type of learning model lacked the quality instructional design that a traditional classroom environment provides. Today, research conducted consistently reveals that there is no distinct difference between distance learning and traditional classroom learning. In addition, the growing popularity of distance learning has influenced most organizations involved in education and training to include virtual education in their future programs.
The growing popularity of distance learning has raised the level and quality of programs offered by online institutions of higher education. Students have the ability to choose from a wide array of undergraduate and graduate programs to meet their specific interests and career objectives. Some of these leading institutions include:
The primary advantage of distance learning is the matter of flexibility, particularly to international students seeking to obtain a degree from an accredited US-based institution. It allows them a wider choice of institutions to suit their specific interests and one that meets the requirements of the appropriate accrediting agencies. It also provides a great opportunity for busy working professionals to gain the additional training they need to advance within their respective fields without having to leave their jobs to attend a traditional campus-based institution. Other advantages of distance education include:
Accessibility: increased access for individuals living far away from the institution and those with restricted mobility such as the handicapped or elderly
Unlimited Information Access: distance education allows for unlimited access to expert information via online research databases. In addition, most online institutions boast a digital library that allows their students to access digital books and research materials.
Increases Interaction with Technology: the online learning format allows students to conduct interactive teamwork between groups. They have the opportunity to network with each other from anywhere around the world via chat rooms, bulletin board discussions or emails.
Reduced Cost: distance learning allows for reduced tuition fees due to not utilizing the institution’s physical resources.
Students also have the ability to seek expert advice and conduct interactive discussions with instructors via internet chat rooms and emails. This fosters and promotes an intuitive and better learning environment between instructor and student. The added advantage of the online learning is students can email assignments to their instructors at anytime of the day, also the ability to revisit coursework until they have fully mastered the material.