Distance Learning Strategies for Adult Learners

When considering distance learning, whether it be a correspondence course received through the mail, a televised course watched once a week or an online course with daily participation in virtual activities, a special kind of preparation can be needed that traditional classroom courses do not require.

Developing attainable goals and knowing the course objectives, preparing for the obstacles that can crop up, planning the time to study and having all the resources needed on hand, can become important in getting yourself ready for distance learning.

Know the objectives, develop your goals

Most distances courses outline the objectives and expectations for students in introductory material and classes.

Make sure you understand what is expected of you in terms of time investment, community participation, homework deadlines and examinations. Knowing these course oriented objectives will save you surprises throughout the distance learning experience.

Though it is perhaps the most important aspect of preparing for distance learning, a learner sometimes doesn’t define their own personal goals. Dealing with time and resources is an easier task compared with defining clearly why you are taking a distance course.

Before beginning, however, you should take the time to note down a few of your personal goals.

  • Are you taking the course because you have been asked to by your boss?
  • Do you have natural curiosity and just want to learn more?

Noting the answers to these and other “why” questions about your distance learning can serve in future moments as motivation and animation to complete the course.

Prepare for the obstacles

Loss of motivation on the part of students can contribute to a high dropout rate for correspondence courses. Internet online learning shares some of the same obstacles as earlier (and still existing) services.

Without clear motivation for learning, adults can often drop away from the process or become distracted by other content offered by the medium.

Life itself can become an obstacle.

Having to take care of the kids or go to work or clean the house sometimes interferes with the concentration needed for the activities that distance learning involves.

When deciding on a distance-learning program, the adult learner should be aware of these obstacles and meet each of them with clear, applicable strategies. Being ready for these obstacles makes them easier to overcome when they crop up.

Plan the time

  • You will have to dedicate time to study.
  • You will be presented with ideas that will then lead to practical use.
  • You may have to read or listen to these ideas and then put them into practice.
  • You will need to schedule the time you can regularly dedicate to study before you take on the course.

If you are working full time and have a household to run and manage, time may seem like a commodity that you can’t spare.

Before signing up for the course, you’ll need to consult your daily and weekly schedule to make sure that there are spaces for study.

Pencil study time into your schedule as you would any other activity you are responsible for to check if the distance learning plan is viable for you.

Have the resources

Whether it be books or pencils or calculators or the latest operating system and a cable broadband connection, the resources that you will need to provide should be at the level required by the learning platform.

These resources are often listed for students at the outset of the course. Go over that list, or make your own; make sure that you have all you need to effectively carry out the course work.

Having all of the right resources on hand ahead of time will only make the study easier.

Distance is a relative term in education; it has been shortened and lengthened throughout history. From walking three miles in knee deep snow with a hot potato in your pocket, to taking the school bus to the consolidated school, to taking a correspondence course, to signing up for an Internet training module, there has always been some type of distance involved in learning.

Learning, however, is in the hands of the learner. The distance involved can be prepared for and even taken advantage of.

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