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Distance learning has revolutionised the way people become educated due to the internet. With modern technology, anybody from any part of the world can gain a higher education qualification. There are now hundreds of institutions across the globe which offer distance learning and the variety of subjects available to study is staggering.

Prospective students can choose to study undergraduate degrees, post graduate degrees and even short courses and certificates for those who don't have the time to commit to a full degree. Distance learning has made education simpler and more affordable and with the standard of online education constantly improving the quality of an online degree is often considered as viable as a campus-based degree.

This is exemplified in the number of accreditations online institutions are now receiving. Distance learning has opened up a wealth of opportunities to students across the world and soon enough it is likely that online learning will become a common feature of society.

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What methods are used with distance learning ?

The teaching methods of distance learning vary from institution to institution although some are far more innovative than others. The standard form of online teaching is based around lectures made available to view at any time. This will generally consist of a number of online documents detailing the lecture and it will be supplemented with notes and reading lists.

Most online universities will also make use of BlackBoard. BlackBoard allows students and professors to interact with each other and it also provides a platform for student-to-student interaction. On BlackBoard students can submit work for marking and they can receive it back as well. BlackBoard provides a number of useful functions and also helps create a more personal element to online learning.

The best distance learning techniques used in online learning involve using pre-recorded lectures, live seminars and audio material. Some universities that are based at a physical campus and also have an online division prefer to record the lectures which take place on campus and then make these lectures available to the distance learning students. Other online universities specifically pre-record lectures solely for distance learning use and these make an excellent accompaniment to any provided lecture notes.

One of the most important things to consider when embarking on a distance learning degree is the impact the lack of on campus communication will have on the education. Fortunately plenty of online universities avoid this problem by offering online seminars which are conducted though webcams. These seminars recreate the campus-based environment and allows for the spontaneity of learning and questioning which occurs in real life.

All these methods of distance learning ensure that online students receive an almost parallel education to those who physically attend a course.

What are the advantages to distance learning online?

Distance learning online provides unrivalled convenience and flexibility which a standard education cannot match. Students can learn at a time that is appropriate to them and due to this they can fit their education around their work and family without having to make any sacrifices. Online videos, lecture notes and other supplementary tools are available to be accessed at any time and a student is not restricted in terms of how often they can view the degree material.

Learning from the comfort of home is another of the benefits to distance learning. By doing this a student doesn't have to pay to commute to a university and they don't have to pay to stay on campus or at a nearby location. The student can save large amount of money by choosing to study online and the tuition fees are often far cheaper, meaning the traditionally expensive route of obtaining a higher education qualification can now be avoided.

Students are no longer restricted by geography and can choose to enrol in any class they want to. Previously a student may have been unable to pick their ideal course because they lived too far away from the university but with distance learning this is now irrelevant and geographic restrictions do not play a part in a student's choice. Similarly, financial restrictions may also have been a hindrance but with lower fees this may not be the case.

Who is suitable for an online degree?

Anybody can choose to enrol in an online degree regardless of age or location. Distance learning is especially useful to professionals who already have a job but need extra qualifications to progress in their career. Distance learning enables professionals to obtain the skills they need to prosper without interrupting their current work.

Similarly, distance learning is well suited to middle-aged, working and retired people who cannot afford the time to attend an on campus degree but who would like to gain a qualification in a certain field.

Recent school leavers can also take advantage of the low tuition fees and lack of commuting and accommodation costs associated with distance learning too.

Distance learning accreditation?

Many distance learning institutions are becoming accredited as the standards of education continue to improve dramatically. In the UK , the Open and Distance Learning Quality Council is the most respected accreditor and approval from them can ensure a prospective student of the high standards of an institution.

Accreditation is only awarded if the distance learning meets a  number of strict requirements and it demonstrates that the education equips students with all the essential skills to thrive in the world of work. A distance learning qualification with an accreditation is likely to be looked upon much more favourably by an employer because it shows the qualification is on the same level as its campus-based counterpart.

What are the prospects with a distance learning qualification?

With an accredited online qualification a graduate can expect to compete in the world of work with those who have qualified with a campus based degree. Distance learning is now much more highly regarded than it was in the past and this is largely because teaching methods have improved drastically.

Distance learning will equip graduates with all the key competencies needed to succeed at work and there are plenty of prospects to launch a fulfilling career.

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