Monday, August 28, 2017

Choosing The Right Path: Online or Classroom Learning? by Tess Wilkinson

Which is the best way to study: online (also known as distance learning) or classroom? It’s not easy selecting the ideal option as there are many factors to consider; flexibility, travel arrangements, cost etc.

The first factor to consider is Time. Do you have the time to fit a classroom qualification into your schedule? Working full time myself, I know and understand the struggles of having the time to fit everyday life into the short few hours you get to yourself after the working day is done.

Some of you may have families to tend to which makes timing even trickier. Some of you may be full time interpreters, meaning your schedule is busy and unpredictable. Keep in mind that if you choose a classroom qualification, you will need to commit to attending on a regular basis, at a certain time each week and it’s not just the time spent at class that you have to plan for, you also need to consider your travel time and time to complete homework assignments.

If the answer to my first question is ‘No’, then I would strongly advise looking into an online qualification. Our online Interpreter qualifications are very flexible and accessible.

You have the freedom to log in and out of your studies whenever and wherever you like; from your smartphone or your laptop.it everyday life into the short few hours you get to yourself after the working day is done.

Another factor to consider is your learning preference. How do you like to learn? Are you a visual learner? Do you learn better by being surrounded with peers? Or do you like to get stuck in and learn as you go? Every individual learns and processes information in a different way, so we always try to cater for this.

If you find that your motivation to study is low, a classroom learning option might be best here. In a classroom, a teacher or tutor will be present as well as a classroom full of other students, and there is a set schedule for attending these classroom sessions and for completing work. This is a great motivator as you have to attend these sessions, and if you don’t, you will not gain the full qualification. For distance learning, one way around this is to agree deadlines with your assessor and make sure you stick to them.

Do you have the facilities to travel to a physical location? This is an important question to ask, as this alone can be a deciding factor for if a classroom or online qualification is the best option for you.

If the classroom location of the qualification is a fair distance from your home, this is off putting and demotivating for many reasons. It could be costly, it could be time consuming, and you may not drive and have to take public transport (which is unreliable at the best of times!). With a distance learning option, all of the time you put aside for your qualification can be spent studying so if travel is an issue, the online option is best for you.

The next factor I would consider is support. How do you like to be supported whilst studying? Do you like to be supported on a 1-2-1 basis, within a group of students or not at all? Many people assume an online qualification comes with no support from a tutor or assessor and, in a lot of cases, this is true.

If you prefer not to have any support and be left to your own devices, this is also an option. You can go through the content of the course by yourself and then discuss your progress with your assessor at the end of each module.

If you prefer to work in groups or with a class of students and a teacher, then the classroom learning option should be considered here but remember, you will still be required to work on your own to complete the majority of your assignments.

Finally, a key consideration for the majority of people is cost. Have you considered the full cost of the qualification such as price of attending, travel costs, childcare costs etc.? For a classroom qualification, you have to consider every single cost you may incur. You may have to take time off work to attend the class, which may mean that you do not get paid. If you have children, you may need to arrange childcare, which is costly.

You need to consider the price of transport getting to and from the classroom e.g.: petrol costs or bus/train fare and finally, you need to look at the overall enrolment cost. The total cost for a classroom qualification is more than likely higher than that of a distance learning qualification because you do not have to consider add on costs for a distance learning qualification.

At ISL, the cost of our qualifications cover all learning material, assessment fees and the support from your assessor and language specialist. There is no travel or childcare costs as you can study from the comfort of your own home.

Online or distance learning is becoming increasingly popular and will eventually be the leading and preferred learning method. According to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, students undertaking online qualifications or training courses actually perform better than those attending a classroom course.

We hope this information will help you to choose your ideal learning method. If you have a question, get in touch with us at ISL and we will be more than happy to help!

This blog is brought to you by Tess Wilkinson from the International School of Linguists.