Is Distance Learning Right For You?

Ever thought about learning another language, or trying your hand at something new? Or do you simply want to brush up on the maths skills that could help you at work? If so, you may be considering an adult education course. However, a distance learning programme – rather than going to a classroom at a fixed time each week – may be a better fit for you personally. This guide looks at the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning, so take a look through the various points and see which ones – good or bad – are most relevant to your circumstances.

Cheerful girl with laptop


Go at your own pace – One of the main advantages of distance learning is that you can study at your own pace. If you’ve been out of education for some time, classroom learning may be too quick for you. Distance learning allows you to take your time studying and re-studying the bits that you find difficult. Then, when it comes to assignments – there are no deadlines! Simply submit them whenever you are ready.

Work around your life – Classroom-based learning involves being at a certain place at a certain time, which may mean having to switch your hours at work, or even change your job – and you are restricted with social activities too. Often, people who take on an adult education course end up having to miss sessions and fall behind because everyday life gets in the way, such as a family issue or a problem which requires a lot of attention at work. From here it can be difficult to catch up on the missed lessons, and many people simply give up. However, with distance learning you can pick up your studies whenever you have the time.

Save time – Time is precious for most of us, but is especially so when you’re trying to fit some extra learning into an already packed schedule. Having to commute to a classroom is time you really don’t want to waste – with distance learning you only need turn on your home computer!

Save money – With distance learning, the course assessors can deal with many more students than those working face-to-face, and there are no room fees for the course provider to worry about either. This means that, typically, distance learning course fees are cheaper than those for in-class learning.

Share with fellow students – Most distance learning courses now have internet forums where students can discuss issues. While you can do this in class, some don’t feel that comfortable talking to strangers face-to-face, while you may be able to find an answer to your problem in one of the previous posts.

Wider variety – You’re likely to find that there are a wider range of subjects to study if you go with distance learning, rather than trying to find a course in your local area – especially if you live in a small town!


No teachers – A lot of distance learning is self-directed study, and while you can email tutors questions if you need to, some people learn much more effectively if they are listening to someone teach, rather than guiding their own learning.

Technology dependence – Distance learning usually requires you to have an internet connection and access to a home computer. This is may not be financially possible, or you may just not enjoy using technology.

Lack of structure – While some people enjoy learning at their leisure, others prefer the structure offered by a teacher setting assignments and deadlines – or else they might find they are not doing as much work in their spare time as they should do!

Not all subjects can be taught – Unfortunately, subjects in the sciences which require lab work cannot be taught with distance learning.

The best way to find out if distance learning is right for you is to do some searching. It is highly likely that you will find an excellent university that precisely fits your needs. American University’s online programs, for example, offer several benefits to new students. They give you 24/7 access to your coursework, and the ability to learn from the same professors that teach on campus. Even if you decide to switch your method of education further down the road, you can always transfer the credits that you earned. Thus, your time and money is worthwhile.

Distance learning can be a very convenient way to study for some people, as the testimonials in this article from the Independent show. It is certainly worth considering before committing to a course, so look at what is on offer from groups such as Oxford Open Learning alongside the offerings from your local education institutions to see which is more suitable for you and your lifestyle.