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Should you take your degree online?

There are some misconceptions surrounding distance learning degrees. Here, we help you decide whether learning online is for you.

In today’s digital world, technology has changed almost everything we do, from the way we socialise to how we buy the things we need. It was almost inevitable that the way we learn, too, would be revolutionised.

Online learning degrees are being run by prestigious universities all over the world. And, although many students have taken to this learning format, others are unsure as to whether it can provide as much value as an on-campus course.

Whilst distance learning is no less valuable than learning in person, the study experience can be quite different. 

Let’s dive into some of the questions you may have about distance learning.

How valuable is an online degree?

One of the concerns we hear most frequently is that a distance learning course might not be as well-regarded by employers as those gained on campus. 

The truth is that online degrees are legally identical to on-campus ones and deliver the same results. In fact, many degree certificates, such as those we award at Northumbria University, won’t even mention that you studied online ‒ they’ll be the same as any other you could gain.

The result is that many employers will regard on-campus and online degrees similarly. Some may even admire the dedication and time-management skills you’ll have needed to show to successfully complete a degree alongside other commitments.

What’s it like to be taught online?

Our distance learning students are usually highly motivated. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re left to teach themselves. 

At most institutions, online students are carefully supervised by both academic and support staff. At Northumbria University, for example, you’ll have opportunities to talk face-to-face with your academic leaders, just as you would with an on-campus class. Only this time, you’ll be doing it via digital platforms, during virtual seminars. We also offer student support services, such as personal Student Success Advisors on many courses, with the aim of helping you to balance your studies with other commitments.

It’s also worth remembering that even on-campus courses are mostly self-guided. A postgraduate, or undergraduate masters, qualification, whether you take it online or offline, requires a level of independent research, organisation and motivation one step beyond undergraduate level education. You’ll have to manage your time and explore learning resources on your own, no matter the format of your degree.

Man studying online degree using laptop

Won’t I miss talking with other students?

Here at Northumbria, we understand the value of peer-led learning. We’ve designed our distance learning courses to be extremely social experiences. Each module, you’ll be assigned to a class of students, who you’ll get to know. You’ll be encouraged to form study groups and discussion boards, giving you the opportunity to share and exchange your experiences. You may even be asked to complete joint assignments with partners or groups.

Just like with on-campus courses, you’ll have the opportunity to socialise with students from all sorts of different backgrounds, from new graduates to experienced professionals. With an online course, you’ll get to meet professionals from all over the world too, adding to the breadth of experience and networking opportunities you’ll have access to. 

How flexible is an online course?

One of the many important reasons we support distance learning here at Northumbria is access.

We know not everyone has the time or financial opportunities to live and study on campus. Online study means that no matter where (or how) you live, you have access to the same standard of education as everybody else. This flexibility is what makes a distance learning course special.

With Northumbria’s distance learning courses, you’ll get to choose both the place and time you study. Our online seminars are recorded, so you’ll be able to check back on the class if you can’t make the original time. You’ll have the chance to book your own appointments with supervisors and tutors within UK working hours, as well as the freedom to take an extended break from study if you need to.

Best of all, distance learning courses allow you to study alongside your existing career commitments. This offers students a massive advantage, allowing them to work in their chosen industry whilst also advancing their education. With a degree from a great university in addition to industry experience, you’ll be an enticing prospect for employers.

 

What about study resources?

It’s certainly true that some courses aren’t traditionally suited to the online learning format. Subjects that require extensive lab time, special tools or hands-on work are not usually delivered online. 

However, many degrees are taught the old-fashioned way ‒ with a classroom and a knowledgeable, charismatic teacher to impart their wisdom. This format translates perfectly to the virtual world, and even on-campus courses are making increasing use of digital tools and resources to help power student learning.  

On a distance learning course here at Northumbria University, you’ll have access to digital resources available to on-campus students, including ebooks, journals, video lectures and more. If you have the opportunity to visit the campus, you’re also more than welcome to use any of our facilities ‒ you’ll be a fully-fledged Northumbria University student after all.

As for more hands-on courses, who knows what the future might hold? Technologies are evolving every day and innovative universities will continue to make courses more accessible for the benefit of everyone.

If you’d like to learn more about the opportunities that a distance learning degree can offer, get in touch with one of our Enrolment Advisors today.  


 

 


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