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Advantages and Disadvantages of Distance Learning

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 22 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Distance Learning Course Studying

When studying to gain a further qualification there are a number of learning options open to students. The one they choose to select will reflect their current lifestyle restrictions and broader career aims, and will generally be the course that the student finds the most conveniently suitable for their needs.

Distance Learning has become an increasingly popular learning option. It offers a wide range of vocational diploma courses, including Counselling Skills, that are easily accessible, and provides prospective students with an opportunity to learn, improve their skills and gain further qualifications in comfort. Courses can be accessed online or completed, using course materials supplied, at home.

Key Advantages

There are many positive advantages to distance learning. Students can learn at a time of the day that suits them, and in whatever location they choose to do so. They are free to work independently, and also have the support of a tutor and learning institute behind them. There is a wide range of therapeutic subjects available, to choose from, and a vast number of specialist learning providers able to offer the ideal course that fits the student’s requirements.

Gaining an extra qualification or two in your spare time, around work and family commitments, becomes an attractive option when you have the luxury of being able to decide how much time you spend working on a particular module. Working at your own pace takes the pressure and strain out of learning and encourages a student to develop their skills in a way they are comfortable doing. Learning only the things they need to know will also keep the student more focused on their learning, and motivated to complete the coursework.

Key Disadvantages

Although distance learning has many obvious advantages, there are also disadvantages to this method of furthering your education. Learning in a home environment can be just as distracting and challenging as working in a classroom alongside other students. Home learning also requires that the student self-motivates, which can be difficult to maintain over a period of time. Although you may have an allocated tutor contact may be minimal, so feedback will be restricted to notes concerning submitted coursework.

Many students work better around other people, as this form of stimulus encourages the exploration of ideas. Distance learning means that a student becomes responsible for finding their own stimulus, and for creating their own structure to their learning periods. Self-discipline may also prove an issue.

Counselling From a Distance

Many Counselling Skills Courses include small group work, and the opportunity to explore and discuss ideas with other students. They also include supervised placements and work experience. Distance learning may only offer a taster of these opportunities – by the provision of a one day Assessment, at a pre-arranged location. This is the only opportunity a distance learning student will have to meet others interested in learning the same subject.

Pros and Cons

  • Students can learn at their own pace, in their own environment.
  • Learning can be slotted in to fit around restrictive commitments.
  • Working independently, without distractions from others, will keep the student more focused on their studies.


  • Although distance learning offers a flexible method of working, it provides no structure for students to adhere to, which may become a problem for students who lack self-discipline.
  • Students will have to be self-motivated throughout the duration of their studies.
  • Counselling Skills students will miss out on small-group work, and the exchange and feedback from other students on the same course.

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Thank you for this, I'm trying to get a relative of mine interested in the whole idea of distance learning courses , he really doesn't have the time to attend University in a traditional sense, although it would do his career wonders to enroll for an online course.Hopefully this article can articulate the positives a lot better than I can! The flexibility seems to always be a driving point, it would especially suit him considering his job is so demanding.He's usually very focused so I have no doubt he would be able to avoid distractions from home, it's too bad he can't see how well it would suit him!
Ems - 29-Aug-12 @ 6:46 PM
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