Distance Learning: The Basics

independent learning

If you are considering studying a course or degree, you may have come across the phrase’ distance learning’. It is a great way to gain education and qualifications without having to attend in-person classes. The internet provides a wealth of resources and course options, from full master’s degrees to short video courses, and distance learning is a good way to flexibly study the course you want. Here are just a few of the basics when it comes to distance learning.

What is distance learning?

Distance learning is literally learning from a distance, in the sense that you are not physically in a classroom or educational institution. The courses, content, and classes are accessed remotely, usually online, which means that you can study from wherever you are. Many courses are designed to be taught in this way, making them perfect for those with other commitments, such as a job, and don’t want to drop everything to begin studying. 

Who is it for?

Distance learning is for anyone, and when you are considering the type, of course, you want to study and the methods of teaching you prefer, distance learning may be an option. With online courses, you may be able to access subjects and courses that you would not be able to physically. There are plenty of online degrees available, from business administration to ma education distance learning courses, which means you can find your dream course in order to develop your skills or progress your career. Different courses use distance learning to different levels, from a course being taught completely online to distance learning being just one of a combination of learning methods.

What are the benefits?

Distance learning is a beneficial method of learning, as it is flexible and gives you more control over both the learning experience and the environment. A few of the benefits of distance learning include:


When you study an online course, you will usually have much more flexibility than if you were studying in person. This, of course, depends on the type of course or degree you are doing, but many courses are taught 100% online. This means that you can access it from any location, at a time and pace that suits you. If you have a busy schedule, then you can fit your classes around that, and if you want to learn at a more accelerated pace, some courses cater to that too.

Creating your own learning environment can positively impact your overall experience, as it can allow you to feel more comfortable and enjoy the course while still knowing you can contact your tutors if you need to. You may prefer to work from home and set up your own learning space with everything you need. You may also prefer to work out in another location, such as a library. Distance learning allows you to work from your ideal location and to experiment until you find somewhere that suits your requirements.

Self-paced learning means taking your time with the content and being able to access it whenever you need it. This can also have a beneficial impact on your studies, as you can ask questions when you need to, revisit topics and schedule your study time around the rest of your life. There are also multiple types of learners, and it can help to understand which kind you are. They include visual, audio, and kinaesthetic learners, and each has a preferred way of absorbing and retaining new information. Once you understand more about how your brain works, you can tailor your study sessions to suit this, allowing you to learn more efficiently and develop habits and methods that will be useful in the future, each time you need to learn something new.

Availability of resources

If most of your course is taught online, you can be fairly sure that the classes, lectures, content, and resources will be available for you to use and revisit whenever you need to, all online. It can be stressful when you are listening to a live lecture in person, as you may feel pressure to get all of your notes down, and they may not make sense when you look back over them. If all of your course content is readily available online, you can listen to and watch it as many times as you need, allowing you to make comprehensive notes and revise any areas you find tricky.

What other kinds of learning are there?

Depending on the course you choose to study, the teaching and learning methods will vary to best accommodate the subject and allow you to have the most useful experiences. Many courses use blended learning, which is the combination of distance learning and in-person learning, through tutorials, internships, placements, and practicals. This is commonly used in medical courses, as it allows students to practice the skills they have learned. The type of learner you are may influence the type of teaching you prefer. Confident, independent learners may benefit from distance learner, as it gives them more control and freedom to work in the way that they choose. 

Online courses help develop your independent learning skills, which is essentially the ability to take control of your learning and the methods you use, still with the guidance of a tutor or teacher. It is a very valuable skill to have and shows that you have initiative and self-motivation, understand how your brain learns best, and apply these skills to other situations.

Distance learning is a useful method of learning, both while completing your course and in the future. You will be able to develop personally and professionally, as well as gain important soft skills that will help you in any workplace. You will be confident in motivating yourself, managing distractions, and staying focused on your studies while managing your other life commitments. This will show potential employers that you are passionate about the subject, educated to a high level, and are able to multitask and manage your time.