In my post last week I talked about education and how I’m currently earning my master’s degree through distance education. I’ve also done a variety of distance learning in my undergraduate career as well, so I know the pros and cons of it fairly well. But how do you know if it’s best for you?
Where You Are in Life
Often in my experiences, older generations tend to gravitate towards distance learning. Usually, the busier your life is, the easier it is to take classes from home rather than travel to a school to be in a classroom. Or if you find an awesome program but can’t move to that location, having a distance program makes it easier to make the decision because you get the great program without the large move. But if you are at a time in your life where you can make a move and commit to going to school in person, that’s a path you can decide on your own.
Your Ability to Self-Motivate
It’s very easy to pass off distance learning because of the at-home factor. However, distance learning can be very hard without the motivation of going somewhere to learn. I can take class in my bed if I want to (and definitely have on sick days), but you have to have extra motivation to actually do class and classwork. Also, there are different types of online courses from synchronous (set live class time you must attend) to asynchronous (do the class on your own). The variations in class types take different motivations as well. Overall, you are the one pushing yourself to do work and being consistent.
You Comfort with Technology
Distance learning means a lot of interaction with technology. For my master’s program, it listed technology requirements, from Adobe CC to webcams and mics, to certain internet connections. It even had recommendations such as dual monitors. Either you want to already be comfortable navigating technology at an intermediate level or willing to learn in order to have no extra difficulty in distance learning.
What You Get From The Program
I was warned a bit about choosing distance learning for my master’s because it meant I wasn’t having in-person interactions with faculty and how this might affect my job search afterward. Although these are concerns, I found that what my program offers made it worthwhile in the long run. It’s still an accredited university, although online I still get face-to-face interactions, I can continue to learn and take courses after my master’s with a special program they offer, and the program I am pursuing is difficult to find at other institutions. Basically, do a pros and cons list between programs to see which one benefits you more and the perks you get from it.
Distance programs are definitely not made for everyone, so it’s best to take stock of these before jumping in. You might realize that traditional learning is better for you or you might realize that distance learning works best.
Although I’m talking about larger, degree-oriented education, everyone can keep learning! CreativeLive is a great place to get started if you want to learn about anything from arts and design to money and business. This week is currently Photoshop Week so you can become a pro in no time.