For students who don’t fit into a traditional classroom setting, distance learning provides an exceptional opportunity as it affords the flexibility they need to be successful. Like all learning models, distance learning does have some inherent problems, especially in the areas of isolation, support, technology and discipline.
Lack of Support
The physical absence of the instructor means that they may not be available to guide or support the student when they need it most. The availability of councillors depends entirely on the program your student is enrolled in.
Even the support that does exist relies on the student formulating questions and asking for help; something some students may find difficult. If the student has misunderstood a concept or is missing vital building blocks in their knowledge, they may not be aware of these issues. Only working one-on-one with a tutor will help them to find the missing building blocks and understand difficult concepts.
Feelings of Isolation
A lot of learning is peer-based as students use discussion and groups to work through material. Teaching others, explaining concepts, answering questions and defending positions are all excellent was of learning and thinking critically.
Socially, your child may also feel isolated and miss out on the interaction they enjoy in a classroom environment. You can counter these issues by selecting a distance learning course that provides opportunities for discussion and interaction through webinars, wikis, discussion boards and blogs. Create opportunities for interaction outside of school like sports clubs, dance class, summer camps etc.
There is a certain amount of social pressure and regulation that goes with a traditional classroom. Students have to show up on time and with homework done and they are guided through every step of their course, reminded of upcoming assignments and tests and there is a structure and routine to follow.
Some students are self-disciplined and have no problem with distance learning, while others may feel a little lost. You can help by establishing a structure and routine for studying. You must also teach executive skills. These are the skills that every student needs to be successful in academics and in life. Skills like organization, task prioritization, study skills and time management are not innate.
Find a tutor who integrates executive skills training into their tutoring sessions so that your student isn’t just gaining knowledge, they are learning the skills they need to be effective independent learners.
Advances in technology have made distance learning a more viable option as students are able to interact with each other and with the instructor, utilize audio, video and text to learn and use the internet for research. To ensure that your student is an effective distance learner, they must have access to all the technology they need and to be able to effectively navigate and use the tools at their disposal.
Distance learning can be an incredible asset for students who, for whatever reason, are not able to fit into a traditional classroom setting. But distance learning is only as effective as the student is. Knowing the inherent pitfalls and problems before you begin can help you to create an environment conducive to learning.