What is online learning?
Distance learning, or otherwise known as 'online learning', is a mode of study whereby students don’t need to attend traditional campus-based classes. Physical classrooms and tutors are replaced with online training systems allowing students to fit learning around family, work and other commitments.
Tutorial support is often provided via electronic tools, such as email, phone, and video conferences to name but a few. Due to this flexible concept, students can access the system from any place at any time.
In Malaysia, online learning started in the early seventies with the use of web-based technologies in both teaching and learning in all universities. Years later, universities have developed their Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which have been changing the way higher education has been taught and practised.
According to an article published by The Economist, the traditional MBA in particular, has been affected by its online counterpart. There was a decline in actual enrollments in one particular MBA school. Five years ago, this school was able to get as many as 17 applicants for the available full-time slots. Now it is down to 10.
How much does it cost?
The tuition fees for online learning depends mostly on the chosen programme, institution and country. High-ranking schools, for example, might charge students higher tuition fees.
Generally speaking, tuition fees for online courses are lower compared to those charged for a traditional education. While some online courses can cost nearly as much as their full-time equivalent, most are still far cheaper. Some students pay as much as RM40,000 for the entire course when they go for the online version. That is still relatively cheaper as compared to paying as much as RM80,000 by attending traditional institutions.
No matter how you put it, certain expenses such as accommodation and transportation are going to be saved when choosing for this virtual education system.
Who is it for?
Distance learning is for anyone who is not able to study, whether it is due to personal, professional or any other type of major commitments. However, distance learners are required to be motivated, disciplined, and self-reliant and should know how to manage time efficiently.
What are the advantages?
1. Flexibility allowing to fit learning around your personal and/or professional life: Distance learners mention the fact that they get to keep the quality time with their family as the most significant advantage. Secondly, an important reason to consider distance learning is it enables learners to continue working and earning an income while studying.
2. Knowledge acquired from your education can be put to use immediately when working and studying at the same time.
3. Obtain a degree from any desired institution, both locally and international
What are the possible challenges?
1. You are responsible of how you manage time and workload: The main struggle distance learners experience is that there is no pre-determined timetable to stick to. When considering distance learning, bear in mind that self-motivation and discipline are required to keep track.
2. No face-to-face contact with students or tutors: Distance learners mention the virtual education system can feel a bit lonely since there is very little social interaction involved.
Considering all the factors, distance or online learning is a good option for those who are balancing their personal responsibilities, but still want to continue their studies. Just remember, before you decide if this works for you, do consider the above pieces of information for a smooth-sailing journey towards learning.
This article is brought to you by EasyUni.my, Malaysia’s first and largest online portal. EasyUni offers a comprehensive and complete platform for college and university applications for school leavers and working adults with over 70,000 courses and programmes from 2000 colleges and universities across more than 20 countries.