Monday, November 05, 2007

Distance Learning: A New Way to Get Your Degree

Do you long to go back to school, but live miles away from the nearest university? Are you a busy working professional with time constraints? Then using Distance Learning to earn your degree may be the answer!

Distance education used to mean getting courses via snail mail or on videotape. Well, today you are in the right place at the right time. Distance education is now online learning, and is a reality for anyone interested in continuing their education or stepping up their career. You can even earn a accredited degree online.

What distance education now means is that you can access educational programs and not have to physically be in a classroom on a campus. Through such technologies as cable or satellite television, videotapes and audiotapes, fax, computer modem, computer conferencing, videoconferencing--all through the internet online--and other means of electronic delivery, the classroom comes to you-sometimes even if you're sitting in your room in your bunny slippers and it's 2 in the morning.

Distance learning expands the reach of the classroom by using various technologies to deliver university resources to off-campus sites, transmit college courses into the workplace, and enable you to view class lectures in the comfort of your home. Online learning is now a viable alternative to a traditional degree.

Where and How Can I Take Distance Learning Courses?

The technology for new, cheaper telecommunications technology is getting better all the time, and there is a growing demand for education by people who cannot afford either the time or money to be a full-time, on-campus student. To fill that demand, educational networks also are growing and changing how and when you can access college courses. Most states have established new distance learning and online learning systems to advance the delivery of instruction to schools, postsecondary institutions, and state government agencies.

Colleges and universities are collaborating with commercial telecommunication entities, including online information services, such as America Online and cable and telephone companies, to provide education to far-flung student constituencies. Professions such as law, medicine, and accounting, as well as knowledge-based industries, are utilizing telecommunications networks for the transmission of customized higher education programs to working professionals, technicians, and managers.

Ways in Which Distance Learning May Be Offered:

o Credit courses. In general, if these credit courses are completed successfully, they can be applied toward a degree.

o Noncredit courses and courses offered for professional certification. These programs can help you acquire specialized knowledge in a concentrated, time-efficient manner and stay on top of the latest developments in your field. They provide a flexible way for you to prepare for a new career or study for professional licensure and certification. Many of these university programs are created in cooperation with professional and trade associations so that courses are based on real-life workforce needs, and the practical skills learned are immediately applicable in the field.

The Way Distance Learning Works

Enrolling in a distance learning course may simply involve filling out a registration form, making sure that you have access to the equipment needed, and paying the tuition and fees by check, money order, or credit card. In these cases, your applications may be accepted without entrance examinations or proof of prior educational experience.

Other courses may involve educational prerequisites and access to equipment not found in all geographic locations. Some institutions offer detailed information about individual courses, such as a course outline, upon request. If you have access to the Internet and simply wish to review course descriptions, you may be able to peruse an institution's course catalogs electronically by accessing the institution's home page on the Web.

Time Requirements

Some courses allow you to enroll at your convenience and work at your own pace. Others closely adhere to a traditional classroom schedule. Specific policies and time limitations pertaining to withdrawals, refunds, transfers, and renewal periods can be found in the institutional catalog.

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