In the past distance learning or home studywas a rather solitary experience. Students usually had minimal communication with tutors, and interaction with other students was almost unheard of. As a result, it was an option best suited to those with high levels of self motivation and little need for peer support or tutorial guidance.
Distance learning students now have an entire armoury of communications tools at their disposal, whether telephone, email, instant messaging and online interactive classrooms, in addition to the good old postal service.
Today's students can take advantage of social networking technology to participate in online forums and share information, advice and support. In fact, the growth of the internet means that students can now experience as much a sense of community as those who attend traditional face-to-face classes. However, some people will still prefer to work predominantly on their own, wanting or needing little input from others.
It goes without saying that various qualities are desirable if you wish to be a successful distance learner. A certain level of self discipline, organisation, and time management are definitely a requirement.
Beyond that, however, there are many different approaches to home study, with people choosing to manage their course progression in a variety of ways. Below is a light hearted analysis of four personality types that are well suited to distance learning for different reasons.
The Lone Wolf
Single minded and ambitious, the Lone Wolf needs little encouragement or assistance from tutors or peers. They process information in a particular way and may get irritated by people with a different learning style.
They often study at anti social hours, such as early in the morning or late at night, and relish the flexibility offered by distance learning. They will generally avoid becoming part of any online community and may progress more quickly through their course as a result of their targeted approach.
The Social Butterfly
In contrast to the Lone Wolf, Social Butterflies are likely to have avoided home study in the past due to the lack of social contact available. They now see distance learning as an attractive option due to people's increasingly hectic social and professional lives, and benefit most from the online learningenvironments offered by many distance learning training providers.
Social Butterflies gain great satisfaction from online interaction with fellow students, and enjoy sharing advice and study tips in course-related forums and chat rooms. They are also likely to instigate informal face-to-face meetings to enhance their study experience.
Hares are highly competitive and judge their performance by how quickly they progress compared to the average student. If a home study coursenormally takes two years then a hare will try to complete it in half the time.
This personality type digests information quickly and can easily understand new concepts and information. They choose to study from home because they feel restrained in a normal classroom environment, where learning occurs at a pace that suits the majority rather than the minority.
Tortoises like to reflect on new ideas and may need extra encouragement from tutors in order to feel they have fully understood their subject area. Lack of confidence can be an issue for this personality type. They are often shy of speaking up in a classroom and may get left behind as a result.
As a result of their, often unfounded, fears it may have been many years or even decades since the Tortoise completed any formal study. Distance learning allows them to develop their skills at their own pace, without fear of embarrassment. Many Tortoises report an increase in confidence having successfully completed a distance learning course, which can spill over into other areas of their lives.
As demonstrated, distance learningis an option that suits different people for a wide variety of reasons. Anyone looking to develop their professional skills with the aim of enhancing or changing their career should consider whether home study will reflect their lifestyle and existing personal and professional commitments better than a traditional classroom based course.
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