Let’s really explore distance learning this week. To my surprise, this is a topic I find myself discussing quite a bit. Every day I find myself in conversations like: “What is distance learning really like? How do we implement it? What kind of results can we expect to see? What kind of measurements are best applied to our particular distance learning program?” I talk about it at work, in social settings, during board meetings and in job interviews. Keep in mind that I do not work in education at all, not even remotely. (No pun intended) Distance Learning is now that important.
With the University of London International Programmes, distance learning is the framework for instruction and study. This style of teaching and learning has many advantages. For me, it is one of the reasons I am studying in my program. But academics are far from the only area where this topic is of interest. It is part of my professional and personal life, as well as being something of a breakthrough tool generally, in my humble opinion. It makes me very glad I became familiar with this kind of instruction and study as a student.
A few years ago most people viewed distance learning as a novelty and weren’t accepting of its methodology. Today, most schools have some level of distance learning for reasons from cost to capacity. The professional organizations I belong to all have distance learning platforms. In my professional life we use distance learning for client and staff education. You see? It’s well established now, offering a great opportunity to reach out, learn and explore in fantastic ways.
Being in this program as a student helped me develop and implement a conservation education program for children in Madagascar and K-12 schools in the USA, structure a staff professional development effort in South America, and create a state-wide platform to improve the success of pet adoptions from animal shelters. How? Working in the model as a student taught me to appreciate the opportunity, exposed me to a variety of technology, and let me help my team members use tools effectively.
Academically, for me, distance learning provides an incredible tool to expand my educational opportunities and work with diverse student bodies and faculties. I hope you read that sentence again. That part is extremely important to me. No matter how hard brick and mortar schools try here in the USA, for me, the traditional campus experience is not as stimulating, interesting, or effective as distance learning, in part because of the cultural and personal diversity it brings.
When you start looking around at programs to enroll in you will be amazed at the potential for growth and skill development. Sometimes when studying is hard I just think of the ridiculously amazing chance I have to engage with my colleagues and my course content. It sends me right to my desk, energized to figure out the problem and learn, learn, learn.
Did you know that the University of London has been engaged with distance learning for over 150 years? If you aren’t sure about how it all works, the role it plays in workforce development, and what it might be like to participate as a student, check out the US National Distance Learning Week website. You can enroll in free webinars to explore the process and its potential for you or an organization you work with. On 9 November there is a webinar where online students answer questions about their experience. As always, I hope you will ask me about my experience as a student. You can post a question here or email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org