The benefits of distance learning for adult learners are many – from keeping up with career responsibilities; to being able to continue to work without taking time off, including supporting a family.
In researching the increase in distance learning students, UNESCO identified the key factors that encourage adult distance learning: distance education is easier to combine with a job (30%); it allows students to study at their own pace (21%); and it allows them to study from home (19%). According to UNESCO, in general, society benefits most from an overall increase in technology literacy through greater access to education: "Distance education is becoming an increasingly widespread phenomenon. As many adults are unable to participate in on-campus education, distance education offers flexible learning paths that enhance accessibility to higher education.
"The key findings show that increasing attainment levels, improving career prospects and self-fulfilment were the major motivations for adult learners who engaged in distance education. Higher education institutions should facilitate learning for adults by offering more interactive possibilities and practical study guides," UNESCO recommended in its report.
The IMM Graduate School has designed distance learning to ensure it is compatible with the needs of the adult learner. By keeping their jobs while pursuing further tertiary education, be it through degrees or courses, professionals can continue to gain work experience while upskilling to further their careers.
The IMM Graduate School identified several factors that benefit distance learners, such as being able to earn while they learn; continue in the workplace to further their careers without a break for study; being able to access and fund their education; online learning is affordable; students can study at their own pace; lectures are after hours or can be caught up online at the student's convenience; the study is in the comfort of your own home; students can set their own study schedules; online learning creates a more personalised learning experience; and online learning can better career prospects.
"Research points to the fact that people entering the workforce today will have several distinct positions in different fields over their lifetime of working, which means that continuous professional development and boosting skills as new technologies impact many careers is critical to remaining relevant. Professionals must have the right skills, knowledge, and ability to advance their careers within this rapidly changing workforce. Online learning can help you keep up at work and make you eligible for new positions or careers," an IMM Graduate School spokesperson explained.
This is how students can make the most of online learning, says the IMM Graduate School:
- Designate a dedicated study area.
- Check all technical requirements, like a stable internet connection for live lectures.
- Understand course requirements and delivery mechanisms for student interaction or projects.
- Organise lecture time and study time into a weekly routine.
- Draw up a schedule for the delivery of projects and coursework.
- Set specific goals and rewards for attaining them.
- Schedule regular study breaks.
- Break lessons into smaller chunks – regular revisions and practices improve memory and enhance knowledge.
- Connect via all the online chat, study, or work groups required.
- Self-discipline and time management are key to online learning.
- Stay in touch with online lecturers for advice.
- Connect virtually with classmates as this will enhance the online experience.