Distance-learning (University courses)

si20si20 Member Posts: 542 ■■■■■□□□□□
Since internet has became extremely popular and is generally much faster than it used to be, online courses have popped up out of nowhere. I'm currently studying my MSc degree via a distance-learning course and I have to say: i'm not a fan of distance-learning.

I personally find that not being physically there, being taught face-to-face is difficult. You watch lecture videos of what happened in the class. Often someone will ask a question but you don't hear the question, just the answer. Sure, the lecturer should repeat the question, but that rarely ever happens. The online medium means that getting support is difficult. I work full time and do the MSc (but the masters course said this distance-learning course supports people who work full time, so it should be fine, right?). Well, not quite. If i'm stuck with a piece of work on Friday evening at 8pm - I wont get a reply until Monday if i'm lucky, which means the weekend is wasted.

Has anyone else been on a distance-learning course (degree-wise, not so much certs) and found a similar thing? Or are some courses much better than the one i'm on?


  • urstuffplz1urstuffplz1 Member Posts: 76 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I was originally studying for a degree with the Open University in computing and found the course and distance learning standards to be quite poor, hard going and lack of support throughout - like you I would email and have to wait days for a response to something important for an assignment, which resulted in me getting dragged behind.

    I originally completed 3/4 of my first year, but decided to drop the OU and I started university with Plymouth in September - I am glad I done this!
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  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Yeah, they are flexible for studying, but probably not as good experience. Quality varies a lot. Some are pretty much: read the text book, do the assignments. Some do offer a bit more in the online lectures, and some real time interaction with other students, forums, actual ongoing activity etc.

    At the end of the day, too often you are paying more for the "Master's" label than for the learning. You can buy some books, watch some videos, try it out for yourself in a lab, ask questions on one of the 1000s of online forums or mail lists, and probably get the same or more learning, for a 10th or less of the cost.

    Yeah, not very satisfactory.

    In this part of the world, there are some universities running more classes in evenings and even weekends. That isn't always ideal either, because your mind tends to be a bit fried at the end of a work day.
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  • JoJoCal19JoJoCal19 California Kid Mod Posts: 2,832 Mod
    I completed my BS in Business Administration from UF completely online. It was the same type of setup where they recorded lectures live and they were available online about and hour or two after the lecture. Where the difference in quality comes in is there were anywhere from 2-4 TA's for each class that answered questions either via online forums or via email. You could also schedule calls or web conferences with them. The teacher was also available to schedule time with via any means, including in-person. Yes you should expect that if you have a question at 10pm on a Friday night there may be some lag in getting an answer, but honestly you should know it's the same situation if you were attending the classes in-person. So I don't see the issue there.

    Where online schooling is really beneficial is the flexibility in obtaining the same degree that your on-campus counterparts receive but not having to give up your life/job to go to lectures during the day. I do agree that online students have it a bit harder since we cannot ask questions live, but that is to be expected and you should know that up front. Online schooling is also a better option for those who do good with self study, and motivated individuals. Attending classes on-campus is better for those who need extra attention, or hand-holding.
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  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Back in the day (I won't mention which century), I did a CS subject on campus. I think we had 1 or 2 hours per week of lectures, and 1 of tutorial classes, and I think 1 hours of labs. So, although there wasn't a lot of question asking in the lecture, there was a lot of interaction in the tutes (both with the tutor and the students), and good hands on in the labs with a knowledgable person you could ask questions to. More recently doing IT classes, and it was a 1 hour online lecture and everything else very loose, some interaction on the online forum.

    The on campus experience gives more of that accidental interaction, talking to random students before/after/during lectures and tutorials, looking over shoulders in labs, more diversions. And a lot more actual contact.

    I've also done some evening classes (short course type stuff), and there is something about going to a place and just doing the work for x hours, and hearing the random questions from other people. There's something just in having the structure and the closer interaction. I think maybe you also get a better sense of where you fit, your skills and experience, when you see people in a class or chat for 5 minutes in a break. Hard to do online.
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  • si20si20 Member Posts: 542 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Thanks for the responses so far. My main concern, aside from the poor quality of teaching via the lecture videos, is the difficulty in contacting a lecturer. I messaged my lecturer on Saturday morning - didn't expect a reply until around 10am Monday. It's now 13:30 at the time of writing and i've heard nothing. So by that logic, if I had something that was stopping me from working, i'd have lost 3 entire days - which is a lot...

    I just want to get the MSc title. I've resigned myself to "just getting a pass". I don't really care for the course anymore because it's not being taught and presented very well.
  • dmaketasdmaketas Member Posts: 19 ■■■□□□□□□□
    OK first of all I am in Europe. I have already completed a distance learning MSc and currently doing another MSc again by distance learning. Most of the certifications that I hold, I either did them by self-study or via online learning, videos, tutorials, etc.

    As far as the certifications is concerned it all depends on the instructor and the "school/academy/educational institution" that you are attending.

    Now for the MSc. The first one was really structured with weekly and monthly goals and objectives on what to read, to do, to achieve, etc. I really enjoyed it and I was really looking forward to study for it. Just to give you an example, working at 10-12 hour per day and then going home to study for 2 hours minimum and finally I achieved a distinction. But all the professors had an "SLA" to reply back to your emails, within 2-3 working days.

    The second one that I am currently doing, although from a more prestigious university, is not so well structured and it falls under the same category as yours. Watch the lecture videos and some other supplemental videos and articles and do the assignments. However, they do provide next day feedback and answer any questions on the forum, which is also nice, again only on working days.
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