What kinds of resources are available for distance learning?
Your distance learning provider will normally provide you with a range of study materials and other resources to help you with your course, such as:
- Textbooks, study guides and course outlines.
- CDs and DVDs containing course content and/or additional resources and information.
- Support from a tutor or instructor.
- Details of virtual libraries and databases.
- Details of student portals, forums and discussion boards.
- Opportunities for self-assessment.
How to use your resources effectively:
As a distance learning student, it is up to you to make use of the resources that are available to you. Here are a few examples of how you can use your resources more effectively:
- Form a study group with other students that are studying the same course.
- Use the internet, e-mail, instant messaging, video conferencing and other forms of technology.
- Make use of facilities such as public libraries in order to conduct research or to obtain additional academic resources.
- Keep in contact with your tutor, and ask if you need help with your studies.
By making full use of the available resources, you can increase your chances of being successful with your studies. It also gives you the opportunity to learn how to locate, evaluate and use information in a proper manner. You are also more likely to enjoy your course if you are making use of a variety of resources, instead of focusing purely on the course material that is provided to you.
Different methods of distance learning
Distance learning courses can be offered according to a variety of methods, including the following:
You will usually receive your course material (textbooks, study guides, CDs, DVDs, etc) via either post or courier. You will then be able to work through the material at your own pace.
Course material may be presented using a variety of computer-based methods. It may be made available on an online student portal, or it may be sent to you via e-mail. Study material can also be made available on CDs or DVDs.
Virtual online learning:
You may be required to participate in virtual classes or tutorials which are held by means of video conferencing.
What is your style of learning?
Distance learning requires plenty of self-study, which is why it is important for you to know how to study efficiently and effectively. You can save yourself plenty of time and energy by figuring out what your preferred learning style is. For example, if you are a more visual person, drawing up charts and mind maps might suit you better than studying from a collection of summarised paragraphs.
Study tips for students studying via distance learning
Here are a few things you can do to improve your distance learning experience:
- Make sure that you are comfortable with using a computer.
- Draw up a study schedule, and keep to it.
- Don’t leave assignments to the last minute. As soon as you receive your assignments: read through them so that you know what you will be required to do and so that you can allocate sufficient time in which to complete them.
- Draw up a task list, so that you can work through each assignment at a steady pace. This will make the workload seem less overwhelming.
- Set aside a designated workspace where you can study without being distracted or interrupted.
- Stay organised, and make sure that you know where to find all of your notes and study material.
- Draw up a calendar of all important dates (such as exam dates and assignment due dates) and keep it somewhere visible.
- Inform your family and friends about your studies, and ask them to support you in your endeavour. They might be willing to help you by assisting with household chores or by looking after the children while you study.
- Set realistic goals for yourself, and reward yourself when you achieve your goals.
- Remember to maintain a balanced lifestyle: eat healthy food, get enough exercise and sufficient rest, and allow yourself some time to relax.
- Try to make contact with other students who are studying the same course as you – you can help each other to stay motivated.
- Use the resources that are provided by your education provider. Contact your tutor or instructor as soon as you encounter a problem, or if you have a question about the work. They are there to help you.