Problems and Solutions for Distance Learning

Distance education has its share of challenges, but students can succeed with the right tools

Distance learning provides an exceptional learning opportunity as it allows for flexibility in learning methods and materials, schedules, and physical location. Like all learning models, distance learning does have some inherent problems, especially in the areas of isolation, support, technology and discipline. We break down some of the most common challenges of distance education, as well as ideas for improving the learning experience for every student.

Common problems of distance education

Lack of Support

The physical absence of the instructor during asynchronous learning (independent learning) means that they may not be available to guide or support the student when they need it most. This means the student may need to wait for the next synchronous learning (live instruction/class time) period to get support or will have to reach out to the teacher via email or other communication channels.

Oftentimes, getting support relies on the student formulating questions and asking for help; something some students may find difficult. Also, if the student has misunderstood a concept or is missing vital building blocks in their knowledge, they may not be aware that they are on the wrong track. Working
one-to-one with a tutor will ensure your student gets the support they need and help them build back any educational foundations they may be missing due to distance learning.

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 ways to learn and develop critical thinking skills. While these are still possible in distance learning, they don’t have the same social impact as working together in person.

Socially, your child may feel isolated and miss out on the regular interaction they enjoy in a classroom environment. While this is a common problem of distance education, you can help your child feel more connected to their peers by encouraging their participation in class discussions and by creating opportunities outside of class, like phone calls or video chats with friends, group online gaming, and in person interactions.

Academic Discipline

In a synchronous learning environment there is a certain amount of social pressure and regulation. Students have to show up on time, with homework done, and they are guided through their learning like in an in person classroom. This means students are accountable to their teacher and peers to be a productive member of the class.

On the other hand, asynchronous learning doesn’t provide the same sense of accountability, as students are working through the class material and learning independently. Some students are self-disciplined and have no problem with the independence of distance learning, while others may feel a little lost. You can help by establishing a structure and routine for completing classwork and studying. It is also helpful to teach your child executive functioning skills, like organization, prioritization, and time management to help them stay on top of everything. Executive functioning skills are essential to success in academics and life, but we aren’t born with them.

A tutor can support your child in developing solid executive skills training to help them become an effective independent learner.


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 Solutions With Tutor Doctor

Distance learning can be an incredible experience for students, but distance learning is only as effective as the student is. Knowing the challenges of distance learning before you begin can help you to create a positive and encouraging learning environment for your child and set them up for success. If you find your child is struggling with distance learning, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Getting a tutor at the first sign of struggle can prevent your child from falling further behind and can help keep their distance learning experience a great one! Get to know Tutor Doctor to learn more about how the tutors we work with can help your student succeed with distance education.

Looking for more? Read about Tutor Doctor’s Online Tutoring programs to help you support your child’s at-home learning.