Coronavirus has undoubtedly caused massive upheaval in the world of education. University education, in particular, relies on the freedom of movement which has been compromised worldwide. Around 500,000 new students are enrolled to universities each year and most are travelling away from home to live in uni halls of residence that may house thousands of students in flats with shared facilities like bathrooms and kitchens. It’s not ideal!
Whilst we all hope that come autumn, coronavirus will be fading somewhat, we still generally have no idea whether or not it’s reasonable to assume that uni will be starting as normal. Universities are obviously planning for it to be as close to business as usual as possible but we just don’t know how realistic this is yet.
Likewise, students don’t know whether it’ll be safe to go to uni, whether it’s wise for them and their family or whether they even want to anymore. This has led to a huge rise in searches for distance learning courses that take place online. The good news is there are tons of awesome options out there for students interested in this method of study.
The Types of Online Uni Course
Many unis offer full degrees taught via distanced methods including The University of Oxford, Northampton University, The University of York and Staffs University amongst hundreds of others. The Open University is the biggest distance learning institution in the country and offers a huge array of courses across almost every subject.
They all vary in how they’re taught but they all offer credible routes towards getting a degree, all you need is yourself, a place to work and motivation and dedication.
Some of these courses involve blended learning over video call or where students are sometimes required to attend uni occasionally in-person to carry out experiments, fieldwork or otherwise report to tutors for meetings and group sessions. Blended learning may involve sessions where students participate in conference calls with each other and tutors. Offered by Portsmouth Univerity, The Open University and Arden University, blended learning is likely to grow in the wake of coronavirus.
The Dawn of the MOOCs
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are surging in popularity. They’re available from hundreds of institutions, not just here in the UK but worldwide. They can be enrolled by anyone at any time and are usually self-paced, meaning you can come and go from the course in your own time within limits, though there still may be exams and deadlines set for you. They’re credible and are offered by some leading international institutions like Harvard, MIT and Microsoft.
MOOCs do have affiliations to UK unis too, like Loughborough and Exeter. The first place to look if you’re interested would be FutureLearn that offer well-respected, modern and flexible distanced learning online courses.
MOOCs are a powerful option and they’re perfect for those that are looking to gain vocational specialist qualifications. They’ve become very useful in the IT, business and technology sectors where highly credible courses are offered in niche areas.
Studying with a University
Distance learning is not entirely new and many unis have had courses in place for quite some time. Unis will be looking to add to their distance learning offerings and enhance their curriculums whilst investing in new technology to modernise courses.
Taking a course directly with a university is advantageous for those who are determined to still study to degree level. Many also allow students to connect to each other and teachers through e-lectures and e-seminars which can give a real sense of community learning more akin to attending uni in person.
What Distance Learning Requires From You
Whether or not you’re a suitable candidate for distance learning depends on your learning style and personality. If you’re reading this then you’re likely considering it and have some idea this might be the best choice for you – that’s great! For the right person, distance learning can be extremely efficient and it allows you to keep your job or other commitments whilst also staying generally cheaper than traditional uni courses.
If you’ve been productive during your lockdown and have been able to keep up to date with work then distance learning could work for you. You need to be self-driven, disciplined and well-routined as you’ll need to structure your time properly and won’t be accountable so much to your tutors. If you’re prone to distractions, enjoy social learning and feel unsettled working at home then distanced learning might not be for you, but blended learning could be a happy medium.