Problem solved – distance learning

I would like to explore alternatives to classroom training. How do I know if options such as distance learning or e-learning might suit me?

The quest for a healthy work/life balance has created new motivations for those seeking alternatives to classroom training. Distance learning is effectively ‘home study’ – you buy printed course materials, often with the back up of access to tutors (albeit less immediate), and study at your own pace. This suits those who live far from classroom locations.

E-learning is a more sophisticated version of distance learning, with downloadable materials often accompanied by online tests (with immediate marking) and tutors accessible by e-mail. This can be a highly effective way to study, and the more innovative delivery of the course may help maintain your interest. Many e-learning courses also have online discussion forums, where you can chat and share tips or concerns with fellow students. Distance learning and e-learning are less expensive than most conventional classroom courses. The ‘downside’ is that you don’t have a tutor standing in front of you, to whom you can address questions there and then – but this is often outweighed by the advantage of flexibility.

When considering options, thoroughly research distance or e-learning providers. Ask for evidence of successful pass rates, and more importantly, try to find current or former students (you can do this online) and ask their opinions. Classroom training may still be the best option. If you thrive in an environment where you are surrounded by other students, or enjoy group discussions, or need the discipline of a set timetable, the relatively remote nature of distance or e-learning may be inappropriate. In contrast, many people enjoy the freedom of choosing when and where to study – and feel that, with internet access, they can still be part of a community of like-minded students.

"When considering options, thoroughly research distance or e-learning providers. Ask for evidence of successful pass rates, and more importantly, try to find current or former students (you can do this online) and ask their opinions."