What is Distance Learning?
Distance learning is fundamentally a method of learning. You pursue it off-campus, from a location that is of your convenience. By using Internet, software, modems, TV stations, 2-way television using fibre optics, microwave, digital phone lines, satellites, radio, ham radio, video cassette and audio tape, or even normal mail, students can earn college credits or even entire degrees. It doesn’t necessarily mean absence of an instructor for a professor can be connected with students through television, modem, or some other electronic means. If we increase the scope of distance learning, it can also include non-credit courses, workshops, seminars, and career credits like CEUs (continuing education credits).
For a long time, distance learning was wrapped around books and paper proposition but with the introduction of internet, many distance learning programs are correspondence courses where books, materials, and coursework are exchanged through the mail. In some cases, courses are completely electronic, such as interactive multimedia courses, and group learning in virtual classrooms. These options are growing in number and scope. Some distance learning programs have residency requirements ranging from a single week-end to short campus periods.
Furthermore, distance learning also includes alternatives to earn college credits, such as through challenge examinations. Mature students are particularly adept at testing out of courses by demonstrating subject mastery through a single examination. Earning college credit for life and work experience through the creation of a student portfolio is another option common to distance learning programs. Many people complete long unfinished Bachelor's degrees through the use of portfolios.
There is scheduling flexibility in distance learning. Many courses start when the student is ready, not just in September and January. Students can learn at any time of the day or night and there is no waiting for when a certain course will be offered at the traditional school. Distance learning students can take any course anytime, and, sometimes, even help design the course they want to take.
Who is it for?
Everyone! Anyone who either wants to learn a new skill, or just pick up a few new ideas for the fun of learning can take up distance learning. Many traditional schools are now offering distance learning in addition to their existing programs in order to increase their student base and impart quality education to even the most remote areas.
Traditionally, a home schooling student is taught by his/her parents, though now it is expanded to include tutoring via electronic mediums as well.
Most of the distance learning students are adults, for whom the convenience and appeal of earning college credits on all degree levels with minimal domestic disturbance is a great attraction. Parents, caregivers, working adults, and all busy people find distance learning to be an excellent way to combine studies and living. Usually, they are 25 years and above.
Distance learning is an extremely viable solution for those people who prefer to study alone, although for people who enjoy group studying, options like online classes are also available. Lastly, people who live in remote areas or where weather can be extreme, those who have disabilities that make commuting difficult and many others just for the fun of it turn to distance learning as the only practical way to earn college credits.
Although they vary around the world, following terminologies are used in the specified context in the USA and most of the other parts of the world:
- College credits: they are proportional to semester hours, and how quickly they are earned is usually determined by the number of hours spent in class
- Associate of Arts (AA) degree: a two year degree, traditionally, requiring 60 semester hours of undergraduate study.
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Science (BS) degree: a 4 year degree of 120 semester hours of credit.
- Master of Arts (MA) or Science (MS) degree: it is the first level of graduate study beyond a bachelor degree. It requires between 30 and 54 semester hours of credit beyond the bachelors. It is more focused in a subject area than the bachelors and may require original research in the form of a thesis.
- Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.): it is a post-graduate degree encompassing 90 semester hours beyond the bachelors program. The doctorate goes by other names, too, such as Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). The Ph.D. and its equivalents are the highest academic degree that can be earned.
Besides the ones mentioned above, there are other structures as well. For example, a three years bachelors program that leads to a 3 years doctoral research program. Also, some high schools and universities award credits for relevant work experience, which reduces the time required to earn a degree.
History of Distance Learning
Distance learning was introduced more than 100 years ago in Europe, Africa and Asia. The first London University External Degree programs for overseas students started in 1858. The innovative Open University, started in 1971 in the UK, and has been copied around the world. Today, the largest distance learning student body in the world is part of UNISA, the University of South Africa, with more than 200,000 people enrolled worldwide.
In Australia, the University of Queensland offered an external degree in the 1890's due to sparse populations and large open expanses. Today, Australia's higher education system incorporates distance learning in many programs, and is considered a model for other nations.
In the USA, some schools offered courses through distance learning in the late 19th century. Columbia University offered distance learning options in the 1920's, and other schools offered courses by radio in the 30's and courses via television in the 60's. However, distance learning remained a little-known means of earning a college degree throughout most of the 20th century.
Universities that are exclusively distance learning began appearing in the US, on both coasts, at about the same time, in the early 1970's. Among the pioneers, the state of New York gave us the "Regents External Degree Program," now called Regents College, an accredited school. The state of California produced California Western University, now called California Coast University, a state-approved institution.
Acceptability of Distance Learning
Because distance learning is still not a well-understood concept with many people, there can be prejudice against these types of degrees with some believing that distance learning is an inferior education. Distance learning degrees can be better accepted in some occupations than in others, and prejudice is lessening as the facts of distance learning become known, and as the number of people holding such degrees increases.
Distance learning acceptability raises issues of quality assurance and how potential students can judge between different distance learning offerings. Various approaches have been made to this subject, involving accreditation, consumer protection, licensing or other measures.
British universities attained their ability to offer degrees from Papal Charter in earlier times, followed by Royal Charter after the Reformation in 1534. American universities exist by virtue of complying with individual state requirements since each state government is the competent education authority and not the federal government.
In Canada, there is no federal degree granting authority. Degrees are granted by virtue of each province's legislature having empowered an institution with the authority to grant degrees. In Australia, although self accrediting, universities are authorized by a separate Act of Parliament in each case. Qualifications however are issued in accordance with a set framework that encompasses all education through to PhD.
To determine the quality of a school and how its qualifications suit your purpose, you need to assess the legitimacy and the effectiveness of the degree against your own objectives.
Distance Learning and Cambell University
With innovation in telecommunication and interactive testing methods, many universities have introduced innovative programming and distance education programs. Currently, there exists no internationally accepted accrediting body for schools without brick-and-mortar campuses.
There are many challenges for universities that are committed to quality education and offer distance learning opportunities to students, like Campbell State University. Concerns over transferability need to be addressed and transnational evaluation criteria formulated to define traditional and non-traditional education in equivalent terms. Current efforts focus on determining the operational variables.
Cambell University goal is to formulate criteria based upon the American model of granting accreditation to programs integrated with universally accepted educational fundamentals. Reliable evaluation can only be achieved through the integration of educational and academic standards into a unified paradigm of recognized departmental qualifications and achievement. In the future, our activities will include the application of these criteria for evaluating an individual’s intellectual achievements in various academic fields.
When a student applies, Cambell University Distance Learning Evaluation Panel is responsible for fully reviewing each of the applicant’s profile at Cambell University for higher studies. Only after having met the panel’s stringent set of evaluation criterion, are the applicants welcomed at Cambell University to pursue their choice of studies.
On applying at Cambell University, Our Distance Learning Evaluation Panel would thoroughly review an applicant’s credentials. In case where an applicant has been approved to be a student at Cambell University by the panel, they will be receiving a confirmation email as well as a confirmation call from one of our representatives in a matter of 48 to 72 hours. The students will also receive an acceptance letter sent from Cambell University.
Thus, Cambell University provides you the opportunity to get a fully accredited degree added to your resume` in as little as 1to 2 years and widen your horizons in terms of landing your ideal job and due promotions. It answers the unique needs of working adults for a flexible, self-paced, educational institution offering them the chance to complete their education, so that they grow professionally and excel in their careers.
Regardless of your financial, personal and geographical constraints, Cambell University provides you high-quality education and accredited degrees in your field of choice.