In today’s digital era, terms such as ‘online’ and ‘distance learning’ have become prevalent, with their meanings often used interchangeably. While both options offer a great deal of flexibility to its learner, there are some noteworthy differences between the two, and this article will help differentiate between them.
Distance learning or Distance education is a term used to refer to students who do not have to be physically present at a school, college or university in order to attain an education. Its origins are college correspondence courses whereby education materials were posted to the student, with the majority – if not all – of the course learnt through a postal correspondence between the student and the educational institution. Today distance learning is frequently used as a blanket term to refer to online learning despite differences between the two.
While most distance learning courses do have an online study component and include access to online learning materials, the key difference is that they often have workshops, summer schools or ‘residentials’ attached to the programme. As a result, a more suitable term for these type of courses is blended or flexible learning degrees. For example, the University of Northampton MBA programme allows students to access the full online library of resources from the University of Northampton, but also includes optional MBA workshops for those that prefer a personal, face-to-face interaction to their study.
Online learning courses are a 100% online, providing students with an incredible amount of flexibility in choosing where they learn, when they learn and even how they learn.
Students have access to a virtual platform with recorded lectures, student resources and e-books, on top of access to the full digital library of a University. Interactive learning tools such as discussion forums, group projects or online self-test quizzes are used to keep students engaged in the content and encourage interaction with their fellow peers. Given how much of today’s working environment requires facilitation through online correspondence, an online MBA or online masters degree is an excellent way to learn essential communication skills as by proxy.
Stafford Global offers an Online MBA from Edinburgh Napier University UK. Its virtual learning environment is complemented with comprehensive tutorial support; a personal UK tutor offers advice regarding assessments, assignment feedback, answers questions etc., – no different to full-time students.
Regardless of study preference one thing is true between distance and online learning: one must be disciplined and self-motivated, both very useful skills to cultivate in life.