Distance Learning - What students like about it:

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Numerous choices

Studying with the best school in the world without any physical limitations – that’s distance learning for me!

Jun-suh
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Save Money

What strikes me the most: Distance education programmes are often cheaper than their traditional counter parts

Sabine
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Raise in status

Suddenly, my boss looks at me in a different way. Even my salary increased!

Maria
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Digital Learning Environment

By DARCO/EADTU

Most higher education institution today have a digital learning environment to support all kind of learning services to students. This holds for both distance teaching universities and more traditional campus-orientated institutions. An institution may use a combination of different technical solutions or integrate many support functions in just one Digital Learning Environment (DLE). Sometimes these environments are called Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Learning Management Systems (LMS), Learning Content management Systems (LCMS), Virtual Classrooms, etc.

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Functions of digital learning environments

For example, the following functions can now be supported digitally:

  • orientation to study (e.g. by free online courses, doing pre-tests)
  • production and delivery course material
  • registration and enrolment
  • providing additional course material and practical video examples
  • calendar, study timetable
  • visualize difficult concepts through modelling and visualization software
  • additional practice training
  • teach concepts by video interaction, simulation and gaming
  • visualize difficult concepts through modelling and visualization software
  • determination of misconception and refine understanding of concepts
  • receive feedback from tutors and students
  • discussion groups, chat
  • work together on assignments in groups, discuss the different problems
  • tracking learning activities, portfolio functions
  • get help and support by students, by institution and sometimes
  • study and work in a (virtual) projects and virtual business environment
  • doing assessment, testing and exams digitally

Examples of such learning systems

Examples of many of these educational functions are BlackBoard, Moodle, Desire2Learn, N@tschool, Teletop, Sharepoint, IT’s Learning, Merlot, etc (there are a few hundred DLE, VLE and L(C)MS availiable). But more and more institutions are using portal software to integrate separate ict-tools that support learning (e.g, skype, email, document sharing, YouTube channels, iTunes, Facebook, etc.).

An effective way to learn

Research shows that students with access to computer assisted instruction, integrated learning systems technology, simulations and software that teach higher order thinking and/or collaborative networked technologies showed positive gains in academic achievement. A recent studied found that students who took either all or part of their instruction online performed better than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction. Students who took “blended” courses— those that combine elements of online learning and face-to-face instruction—appeared to achieve the highest.

Personalized learning - the trend of the future

However, the success of online and blended learning holds if ICT affords the student an “expansion of learning time” that is difficult or impossible to achieve with face-to-face instruction. In addition the ict-tools and the internet nowadays is making personalized learning environments possible and some make connection to even informal learning. Some institutions even supports social learning in communities and learning networks.

Universities in the spotlight

Polytechnic Institute of Leiria (IPLeiria)

Leiria, Portugal

IPLeiria is a public institution of higher education that began its activity in 1980 and is present in the region of Leiria and West through its five schools of higher education, located in Leiria (School of Education and Social Sciences, School of Technology and Management and School of Health), Caldas da Rainha (School of Arts and Design) and Peniche (School of Tourism and Sea Technology).

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Paris - ISM - International School of Management

Paris, France

The International School of Management is one of the world’s most innovative executive education communities. From MBA to doctoral degrees, ISM faculty, students, and alumni come together from the four corners of the globe to facilitate knowledge sharing, learning, and networking in ways that produce professional value and life-enhancing results.

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International Telematic University UNINETTUNO

Roma, Italy

The International Telematic University UNINETTUNO, established with the decree of the 15 April 2005 of the Minister of Education, University and Research, is born from NETTUNO – Network per l’Università Ovunque, a Consortium of 43 Italian and foreign universities which, since 1992, thousands of students took a distance university degree thanks to the use of technology applied to distance education, and from the international-level success of the European Med Net’U (Mediterranean Network of Universities) Project.

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The Open University UK

Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

The Open University is a world leader in modern distance learning, the pioneer of teaching and learning methods which enable people to achieve their career and life goals studying at times and in places to suit them.

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The University of Law

Guildford, United Kingdom

The College of Law is the UK’s longest-established specialist provider of legal education and training – we’ve been leading developments in the field since we were established in the 1960s.

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General

Study orientation

Application and enrolment

Cost and funding

Everyday life as a DL student

Supervision, assessment, exams and grading

After graduation


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