With the increase in university tuition fees and simultaneously the rise in the number of unemployed individuals, taking time out of work to go back to study either at college or university full-time is becoming less of a viable option for most people.
The opportunity of being able to be a full-time student for three or four years, without the security of full-, or even part-time, employment isn't open to most people – but what if you are still interested in continuing your education?
Previously, the doorways to education were limited: if you wanted to undertake courses in ICT, management, business or other "vocational" subjects, you would've had to attend college or university on a regular basis.
However, since the development of distance learning organizations, the opportunity to expand your educational horizons while still holding down a full-time job has become available for many people. If you have been considered returning to education – or even just "topping up" the skills you have – alongside looking at local evening and part-time courses, you should consider distance learning.
It is essential if you undertake any of the many distance learning courses available you understand the requirements needed to make the learning opportunity a success. Unlike traditional forms of education or learning institutions, online education requires you to have a great deal of personal motivation and discipline.
Coming back after a long day at work, when you're tired and peckish, the last thing you might want to do is study. It's important, with distance learning, to be able to manage your course workload effectively around the rest of your life – including work, hobbies and social activities.
However, these personality traits will only benefit you in the future. Being able to manage your time effectively, developing a strong sense of personal motivation, and using your own initiative to complete tasks are all strongly desirable traits for a potential employee, and you will develop all of them during your time undertaking distance learning.
Many people believe a negative aspect of online learning is the solitary nature of the educational experience: however, with many contemporary distance learning organizations and courses, provision is made for group tutorials and other peer-to-peer interaction using online resources.
Social media, online forums, and even relatively new developments like Google Hangouts can be used by students and lecturers to inform and expand the distance learning experience, and alleviate some of the solitude that can come with distance learning courses.
The use of online resources is another key aspect to distance learning. With the increased availability of online communication, researching and learning about particular courses from distance learning providers is even easier. Online resources also play a key role in the substance of the course, with many distance learning courses being driven and directed by the use of websites, social media and even video content.
Therefore, ensuring your online capabilities are up to scratch is another key element in making the most of distance learning courses.
However, completing a preliminary IT skills course could also be an excellent way to get into distance learning and establish a firm foundation for any following educational courses you undertake.
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