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What's Being Sold In Distance Learning?


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In an increasingly competitive market, many are seeking to enhance their business skills and acumen with further qualifications; a viable option since an array of business and marketing degrees are now offered online. Learning providers are adapting and becoming more flexible to meet the needs of those working full-time.

Those who are successful in business and management know their products; they know how and why the commodity that they promote is the best. So, with the growth of online business degree courses and distance learning comes the need to ask questions. What are the benefits to potential students? How are the providers in universities and higher education using learning methods and philosophies to meet the needs of those undertaking an online degree? After all, as those in the business world know, these questions should be asked, and a good product should sell itself with the benefits clear to understand.

Most online management or marketing courses will be structured around a series of what are known as e-tivities. These should be engaging and purposeful, structured through a careful choice of activities and undertaken through participative group work online. It might feel daunting, for many, to face the prospect of learning in isolation. However, this will rarely be the case as one of the key benefits is that each course unit will be designed and facilitated by an e-moderator, who usually teaches terrestrially in the university or college offering the course. In order to effectively deliver the online element, this tutor will have no room for anecdotal stories or waffle, which whilst sometimes fascinating, rarely ‘deliver the goods’ that students have paid for. Distance learning is forcing course providers to tighten up their act and be clear and concise in the learning outcomes offered by a course.

Moreover, e-tivities help to build communities of best practice and skill sharing amongst the participants. In a virtual classroom everyone gets to contribute. So, if you know that you are the kind of student who might be reluctant to vocalise their ideas in a classroom scenario, this opens up many possibilities. Similarly, these distance-learning communities prevent the person with the loudest voice from dominating the learning environment.

Another distinct advantage of studying for a business degree online is that the course providers are fully aware that the better designed the e-tivities, the easier they will be to e-moderate. As a result, those delivering the courses must ensure they provide structured units, with a focused and easily identifiable learning outcome. What this means for potential students is that they are able to access current, cutting edge elements of a topic in the most concise, achievable way. This will place them in the best possible position during the structured ‘learning’ modules of their online degree to absorb new information and succeed in the more individual aspects of course requirements.

In many ways, the students undertaking online degrees are the real winners. Alongside the obvious flexibility of earning a wage and prioritizing their own time-management, they can also be sure that what they study is contemporary and designed to ensure that ‘real’ learning takes place.

Sarah Maple is taking marketing courses and is about to get her distance learning - online degree soon.


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