Distance Learning: How does it work?

By Kevin Branigan - Last update

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So, you’ve signed up for a distance education course – or you’re thinking about it. You’ve got visions of being locked up in your room with a book lamp and a cup of coffee, living a monk’s life while trying to complete your course and get your degree.

But online learning is much friendlier and you won’t be a lone body out there with your books while waiting for the next assignments letter to arrive. You can actually attend college and use the library and computer services – as well as the social facilities of the university you’ve signed up with.

E-learning students are normally assigned to a study centre located in the university with which they are registered. After registering you’ll be expected to attend the university for tutorials with your fellow students. So, you’ll pore over lecturers’ notes, watch course videos and listen to tapes assigned to your class work. And the examinations Yes, you’ll have to tramp into your college and sit down to them with your classmates at least twice a year.

Admittedly, apart from examinations, visits to your centre are not compulsory. Rather, as Dominic Martella from Oscail, the National Distance Education Centre told nightcourses. com “It’s advisable that you go, and most students do go. ” Students, says Martella, meet their tutors and get advice on study techniques and can have course queries answered. “Students when they meet will then sometimes form study groups of their own to help each other along” he added.

Distance education students are also full student members of the particular university or institute to which they sign up. That means they can use the library, the bar and are members of the Students’ Union on campus, allowing the corresponding student a real chance to enjoy the college lifestyle. This will of course be easier for students who live near the university. Provided you finish your course, however, all students will be coming back to enjoy the colour and cheer of a graduation day!

Remember though, although you belong to the overall family of Oscail, the National Distance Education centre, it is your chosen university that will confer your degree or diploma upon you. Your tutorials – and you’ll have at least one of these a month to attend – are held in ten different locations around the country, including at the five big universities all distance education students are signed up with.

So, dispel all those thoughts of distance education as being something for the brave and committed loner. There’s plenty of opportunities for interaction and friendships with class mates. Because remember, you will be part of a group of people who sign up for a course with a university in the same way as so many Leaving Cert students do every year.

“There’s a student services department in each university which will ensure that distance education students can enjoy the same access to the same facilities as the other students of the college”, says Dominic Martella of Oscail. “Unfortunately of course, some students will have disabilities or difficulties in getting to the college on days where everything is open for business. ”

One way or another, life as a distance education student can be very good. The hard study work has to be done, but you can have a lot of fun doing it!

Kevin Branigan

Media Studies
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