Most of us are very familiar with the concept of face-to-face learning. At school, we sit in classrooms at precisely laid-out times, listening to our teachers giving lessons. Distance learning is an entirely different concept, and one that you might not be familiar with. In this two-part series, we will explain exactly what distance learning is and why you should consider this form of study.

What is distance learning?

Distance learning is as a method of study without a student having to attend a school or college. This means that instead of a student going to lectures, their study material is sent to them and they can then work through the study material from home, or wherever else they want to. Study material can be sent to anywhere in South Africa (and even to neighbouring countries).

Note: Distance learning is also sometimes called ‘home study’ or ‘correspondence learning’.

Students can complete their assignments and send them in to their college by courier, post, email, or a dedicated student section on the college website. Exams are then written at an accredited exam venue closest to where the student is living. Distance learning is perfect for those who are working and wanting to study part-time, or for students who may not be able to afford the high travel, tuition or accommodation costs that come with studying at a university.  

See more information about distance learning by reading: What is Distance Learning?

Will you get the necessary support during distance learning?

You may think that because you aren’t physically being guided by a teacher or lecturer, that you may not get the support you need to get you through your studies. But a good distance learning college will provide assistance to students if students have questions or are struggling with study material. Staff such as tutors, support agents and student advisors will be able to help the student over the phone or email, or over platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook.

Note: It is important to save your college’s contact details so that you can get help whenever you need it.

For many people, connecting with other students is an important part of their studies, as you’re all ‘in it together’ and can support each other. Forming study groups can be more challenging through distance learning, but it can be done if you put the effort in. You could, for example, connect with other students by posting a message on Facebook looking for people who are studying the same course as you.

What do you need to be successful at distance learning?

As with any other form of study, distance learning requires dedication and good time management. If you’re working while studying, then you will need to fit your studies in around your work time. It’s important that you create a study schedule and stick to it. Distance learning also requires plenty of self-motivation. It is useful to have a strong support structure in place at home. Get the backing of your friends and family and ask them to give you encouragement and motivation.

If you have this, along with the support of a college that truly cares about helping you get the most your of your studies, then distance learning will work for you!

Next time, we explore the benefits of distance learning and why you should choose this study method.