There has always been a bone of contention between online, distance learning providers and traditional educators and who provides the best courses.
The truth is there is no difference whatsoever.
Our courses, whether they’re A Levels or Access to HE Diplomas are regulated in exactly same way as your local college.
This means that a qualification from us – or any accredited distance learning provider – carries the same weight as one from a bricks and mortar college.
Any qualifications you gain will be recognised by employers and universities alike. The benefit to you is you get a lot more freedom when it comes to deciding where to study.
Although one qualification is like another, the same cannot be said for the learning experience.
The advantages of Distance Learning
Distance learning is the preferred choice for thousands of students every year to gain the qualifications they need to further their academic or professional careers.
One of the key advantages of distance learning is the fact that there are no classes to attend. This makes organising your learning around your existing commitments much easier.
The hardest part of any kind of part time study is juggling the learning with work and home life. It can be draining and is one of the main reasons that students drop out of traditional courses.
Distance learning allows you to focus on the learning. Rather than worrying about getting to class on time or getting home too late to say goodnight to the kids.
By extension, distance learning doesn’t have set term dates, so you don’t need to wait to start your course. You can enrol any time of the day or night and start studying right away.
If your plan is to enrol on to an Access to HE Diploma or take A Levels in order to go to university, you can save precious time. Rather than having to wait until September and add months on to how long you have to wait to apply.
Linked to all this is the way in which you study.
Traditional courses have a set start and end date, usually culminating in an exam or project. In order to pass the course, you need to attend every class, complete your assignments and then pass the exam.
This isn’t all that unreasonable, but it can be a challenge if you’re juggling work, family and actually having a life.
If you miss a class, it’s very difficult to catch up. The teacher is under considerable pressure as it is to deliver the course material so there’s no option to go back over anything.
That learning will have to be done in your own time, on top of preparing for the next lesson. Under those circumstances learning stops being a pleasure and becomes a stress.
Because distance learning providers make the course material available online you can learn when you have time to do so.
As long as you make a plan and stick to it, there’s no risk of missing anything or falling behind. Although most students can complete a course within 9 months, you’ll have 2 years.
This gives you a huge amount of flexibility so if life gets a little intense your studies can flex around that, rather than trying to fit it all in.
The disadvantages of Distance Learning
For all the advantages of distance learning, it isn’t necessarily right for everyone.
Notably, the benefit of flexibility can come back to haunt you. Organising your time is hugely important as otherwise your learning can drift.
Knowing you have two years to complete a course can catch some students out as they put off their studies past the completion deadline.
The advantage of overseeing your own learning can be a major disadvantage if you lack the discipline. Or it could be that you simply prefer a teacher lead learning environment.
Some of our most successful students map out every study session working back from when they plan on completing the course.
They factor in holidays, weekends away, birthdays and all the other important dates that can’t be moved. That way they never get caught out when they sit down to study only to find it’s parent’s evening.
Distance learning also doesn’t suit every learning style. Studying alone for a year or more can be as much of a challenge as attending a class each week. You also miss out on the social element and the benefit of bouncing ideas off other students.
If you’re going to embark on a distance learning course, it’s just as important to structure your study sessions as it is your overall plan of study.
Without a clear learning objective for each session, as well as planned breaks, it’s easy for the learning to feel like an uphill struggle.
Distance learning is a very different experience to studying in a classroom setting, especially with online courses. There is no question that this type of learning takes some getting used to. Although the more structure you put in place the easier it will be.
Although, despite this, not everyone will enjoy using online resources. For those learners there is no substitute for a good old-fashioned textbook.
It is debatable as to whether distance learning is better than studying a regular course. We can attest to the learning experience being different but the outcome is the same.
Namely you gain the qualification you want.
There are clear advantages for both methods of study. It just comes down to your circumstances and which approach will suit you best.
There really is no wrong answer when it comes to choosing to gain qualifications that will improve your future.
Whatever your personal or professional ambitions, Stonebridge Associated Colleges may be able to help. We offer a wide range of courses including Access to Higher Education Diplomas and A Levels.