How Do Distance Learning Classes Work?

Distance learning classes present course work and instructional seminars online, using a variety of methods to deliver content. Continue reading to find out more about how distance-learning classes work and whether they are a viable education option for you.

Distance Learning Overview

Students taking these classes must have access to a computer system that meets the requirements of the learning institution. Students enrolled in distance learning courses are often afforded more flexible course hours in a wide breadth of course offerings at varying degree levels.

Important Facts About Distance Learning Classes

Degree Field(s) of Study Communications, Computer Science, Economics, English, History, Mathematics, Nutrition
Online Availability Face-to-face, fully online & hybrid
Degree/Certificate Levels Bachelors, masters & doctorate
Prerequisites Varies by institution and degree level; GRE & TOEFL tests may be required

Signing Up for Distance Learning Classes

Students may need to be accepted and enrolled in a school and their individual degree program before signing up for distance learning classes. After registering for the class online, students receive information to log in to the class' virtual classroom and access online course materials, according to the University of Florida.

Virtual Classroom Environment

Distance learning classes often use a bulletin board system. By posting messages to the class, students can interact and collaborate. Instructors and students communicate through e-mail, and students can also submit written assignments by e-mail. Instructors use group projects and assignments to encourage cooperation among students.

Learning Readiness

To be successful in distance learning classes, a student must be self-motivated and self-disciplined. Good communication skills are a must, and a student should also be able to complete assignments and exams in a timely manner as directed by the instructor. The ability to use a word processor, search the Internet, email attachments and cut and paste between programs and documents is also needed to function in distance learning classes.

Technical Requirements

Each virtual university has specific computer system requirements and recommendations for browsers and other programs. Students should make sure that their system meets the minimum requirements for any additional software for the class. Distance learning classes with video conferencing may require a high-speed Internet connection, microphone and web camera.

Exams in Distance Learning Classes

Many distance learning classes require students to take exams. Some exam types may allow for materials to be submitted online, but others require students to be supervised. While traditional classroom exams are supervised by the professor, distance learning exams may be supervised by someone approved by the university. Approved proctors may include human resources personnel or supervisors at the student's workplace, librarians, clergy, military commanders or staff at a college near the student.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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