15 Benefits of Distance Learning for Students, Parents and Teachers
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Education technology is constantly advancing and changing the course of instruction. While it used to be that you could maybe find one desktop computer per classroom, today’s learning environments take full advantage of new technology to make lessons more interactive and engaging. As a results, educators are seeing the benefits of distance learning and finding ways to include those opportunities in their curriculum.
Though the shift to digital learning might have been jarring at first, we now know that distance learning has a lot positive aspects. Let’s look at how this new learning opportunity can benefit students, educators, and parents, as well as some of the life skills it teaches.
Positive aspects of distance learning for students
Students won’t forget their homework materials
With work and resources digitized, students will always have access to everything they need, which means they won’t have to lug heavy backpacks around quite as much. Having everything available on online platforms will help keep them organized. And as a bonus, they’ll be able to learn how to navigate these resources on their own.
Interacting virtually could help those students with social anxiety
According to Arizona State University , approximately 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder, or SAD. A lot of these cases start around the time a child is 13. “Education is not ‘one size fits all.’ There are alternatives to traditional school whether a child is struggling academically, physically, or mentally,” they write. “For students who experience social anxiety, online school may be a viable option.” By chatting through text and video, students may be able to feel more confident in their interactions and perform better in their studies.
Students who work have more flexible scheduling opportunities
Some kids need to work to help provide for their family. However, they still need to make sure they finish school. With distance learning, being able to balance both is a little easier. While education is important, every family’s financial situation is different, and distance learning helps to accommodate that reality.
Distance learning helps students stay healthy and keep others safe
The COVID-19 pandemic taught us the importance of wearing masks and maintaining social distance as a way of protecting public health. With distance learning, children can stay home when sick without missing out on too many lessons. Not only is this a more comfortable way to learn when they’re under the weather, but it also shows the teacher that you value the wellbeing of the entire class.
Offers accessibility for those with restricted mobility
Though the world continues to make strides, there are unfortunately still places that aren’t accessible to everyone. Those with restricted mobility can suffer the most from this. Adding remote learning to your education system opens up new doors for those who need that kind of assistance. Allowing students to learn where they are comfortable also reduces missed lessons and contributes to better learning.
Allows for self-paced learning
Offering students the chance to learn at their own pace comes with many advantages. There are no restrictions set forth by classmates either, and they don’t have to worry about feeling like a know-it-all in front of others. Because remote learning is self-paced, students can review the material as often as needed and advance past already known subjects.
Benefits of distance learning for parents and educators
There’s no commute
Distance learning and remote working have one big thing in common — there’s no commute. That means you save on gas money and also don’t have to constantly worry about a school bus arriving on time. And if you’re typically responsible for transportation, it’s almost like you’ve been granted extra time in your day.
Remote learning can work better with an atypical work schedule
If you had an opposite work schedule from your child’s school schedule, this arrangement frees both of you up a little more. Sometimes, it’s a nice break to have a different daytime structure.
Parents can get to know their student’s classmates (or even simply put a face to a name)
If your child has a very wide friend group, you might not have been able to meet them all just yet. But if you get to casually sit in on a digital study session, you’ll be more aware of what’s going on in your child’s social life.
Parents can check in and see what their kids are learning about
Some children can be very chatty about their school day. Others, not so much. By being able to listen in on particular lectures, parents can turn the information learned into meaningful conversations, furthering their learning experience. It’s important for parents to show interest in their child’s education.
Distance learning can reduce the overall cost of school
Especially in America, students have more overall costs to their education—things like housing, meals, transportation, and that’s in addition to the tuition fees. Just living on campus for a single year can add $10,000-$20,000 onto their bill.
Utilizing whiteboard technology and allowing students to learn from remote locations can save them quite a bit of money. This price reduction can help maximize learning because students are now more focused than ever.
Positive effects of distance learning on life skills
Students can use a digital whiteboard for many assignments
Having a digital whiteboard can be extremely beneficial, especially when it comes to sharing documents and conversing with the class over Zoom . Being able to see the rest of the class on such a wide screen could keep students more focused and alert on the lesson itself.
Prepare students to work from home in the future
While there are a lot of benefits to distance learning, working remotely for a career has even more benefits. For one, adults can work on home projects while also staying connected to their team in the office. A lot of people are choosing to work from home even after their spaces have reopened, simply because that kind of work-life arrangement is more convenient. When your child grows up, they may also end up working from home. Having them practice the art of staying motivated and productive at a young age is great practice for the future.
Distance learning teaches time management
While some students may find distance learning difficult, it gives them the chance to develop time management skills. These essential skills will help maintain a work-life balance and offer students an opportunity to complete projects before deadlines. Teaching students how to better manage their spare time can be challenging, but also worthwhile.
Provides broader networking opportunities
While you miss out on the chance to network locally with peers, you often gain a more significant network when you switch over to remote learning. Suddenly, the entire world is at your fingertips. This kind of opportunity can open many doors for students. For example, maybe your child wants to learn a new style of culinary cooking. Before distance learning, options would be limited to local teachers and classes. Now, though, anyone can learn worldwide from masters.
Disadvantages of distance learning
Although there are many different advantages to distance learning, there can be some places where students struggle. Being aware of these pitfalls can help them prepare to make the most of distance learning in a digital era.
Some disadvantages of distance learning include the following:
Strong self-motivation is required
Because students are in control of setting aside time to work on learning, they must be able to focus. Learning on their own requires a sense of responsibility, self-control, and the willpower to work on things even when the subject matter is challenging. Not everyone can do this by themselves. Consider pairing your student up with an accountability partner from their class.
Can hinder the development of communication skills
Because most of the learning is done digitally, there is little human interaction with others. This can make it difficult for younger students or those who struggle with communication to further develop those skills. There is also the learning curve of having to communicate via a device. Zoom fatigue is a very real thing, and virtual communicating requires a different skill set than in-person.
Lack of practical experience
While you can learn many things through videos, some skills require physical exercises to learn properly. Even simulators cannot replace live practice. For example, a vet tech can learn a lot through online courses, but hands-on experience is important for proper evaluation and diagnosis.
The problem of user identification
Currently, the most effective way to evaluate students is through tests. While most credits are given through honesty, the only way to verify the absorbed knowledge is through video surveillance. That’s not always possible, so various locations are still using in-person exams.
The future of distance learning
Some schools that switched to mostly digital learning in the past year might not be ready to return to learning in physical classrooms yet. And in some cases, there are schools that plan to continue offering a hybrid learning curriculum. Remote learning comes with its own pitfalls, but there are many benefits of distance learning that make it an incredibly viable long-term option.
This new age of learning has opened new doors for people to learn in a new way. Distance learning connects students to the right teachers and allows for a more broad scope of subjects. As technology expands and distance learning continues to be relevant, education technology will only improve. Learn how to make Vibe an integral part of your distance and hybrid learning classroom by registering for one of our upcoming webinars , or check out our Teacher and Educator FAQs .
[Editor’s note: this post was originally published July 3, 2020 and was updated July 27, 2020.]
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