Distance learning has grown leaps and bounds with respect to popularity in the last few years. The reasons for growth trend have existed for several decades; however, it is only recently that cheap and available new communication technology and higher internet bandwidths have allowed educational institutions to offer all levels of education online. Courses from vocational training to high school diplomas to online degrees at all levels can be earned using online learning methods with full accreditation, research and even class participation.

Self Paced study

One of the more popular methods of distance learning in recent years is asynchronous learning. Asynchronous learning involves using web based portals where students can use an internet connection to log on to their own WebPages, where they find course material, training documents and videos, lecture PowerPoint files and anything else relevant to their learning. This form of distance learning requires students to motivate themselves, as it allows complete flexibility with respect to daily attendances. Students must motivate themselves to keep track of their course on their own time and make sure they remain up to scratch come assessment time.

Technology Features

The main attraction in this form is the fact that students do not need to attend any time based or scheduled online classes or phone/internet lectures. Students may log onto their course websites and portals, where the following facilities are commonly available:

- Students can send text or voice messages to other instructors, teaching assistants and other students on bulletin boards.

- Students have the ability to download course slides and lectures, training videos and additional material anywhere in the world. Such material can be accessed at any time from any place, while assignments, comments and reports can similarly be uploaded onto an instructor’s page.

- All information, announcements, correspondence, incidents and changes in the environment or the information material are all stored permanently (electronically automatically archived) and can be tracked and reviewed at any time, which means students would not miss anything.

Social Features

This learning model provides a higher degree of interactivity between participants who are separated both geographically and temporally and can provide students with many of the social benefits of face-to-face interaction without the specter of peer pressure.

Students have the ability to express their thoughts without interruption or challenge, and can reflect on and respond to class materials and their classmates' comments and messages in more 'thought-out' way than in a traditional classroom where they might be rushed or pressured.

Students can discuss course material on forums especially reserved for participants of a particular course. These inter-discussions serve the purpose of student participation as in a traditional classroom, and in this way students can reap the benefits of the classroom environment, where they can learn from each other as well as an instructor.

It's easier to avoid distractions. These are commonly peer related (like too many parties). Students (especially those at advanced stages of their course/diploma) can focus on getting the work done.

Author's Bio: 

SchoolsGalore.com is a web directory for the top online schools, colleges and universities in United States and Canada; with the links to descriptions and search options for online courses or distance learning programs.