A distance learning school provides education in a format that does not require a student's physical presence in a classroom. The format of education varies and can take the form of written correspondence between student and instructor, supplying a student with study materials that he can use to prepare for a written exam, televised lectures, or a self-contained online learning environment. For many people, a distance learning school is the best way to get an education without having to move to a far-away campus or adjust their work schedule in order to accommodate their class schedule. Depending on a distance learning school's structure, its students may be able to complete coursework independently, according to their own schedule, or they may be expected to attend online video or chat room classes at specific times during the day.
A distance learning school may provide career training, test preparation, or academic degrees and diplomas. Distance learning universities, for example, offer degrees ranging from the associate to the doctoral level. If someone wants to get an academic degree from a distance learning school, it is important that he or she take the time to determine whether his or her school is properly accredited.
In addition to schools that offer all instruction via distance learning, some traditional colleges offer distance learning classes. In fact, it is possible at some of these schools to complete an entire degree via distance learning, with no distinction made on transcripts or on the diploma between on-campus or distance learning students.
Some distance learning providers specialize in providing training for people in trades or professions. Individuals considering this kind of training should always make sure that the distance learning school providing the coursework is approved by their professional or trade licensing agency. Some licensing commissions don't recognize distance learning at all, while others approve only distance learning for continuing education courses. One significant advantage to completing career training or continuing education through a distance learning school is that a person can complete his or her education while working full-time.
While many online and distance learning schools offer classes online, some distance learning schools require students to attend periodic in-person sessions on campus or at another location during their training. As some schools offer in-person sessions only at their physical campus, potential students should ensure that they can actually attend these sessions. A similar principle holds true for schools that require attendance at online lectures or chat sessions. If a student's schedule is inflexible, he may want to look into a school that does not make such requirements.