What is International Distance Learning?

B. Miller

International distance learning is a method of obtaining an education abroad while remaining in one's own home location by taking classes online. This process of online learning is becoming quite popular around the world, allowing students to attend universities in many different locations, and to make connections with people they never would have met otherwise. Of course, not all schools offer international distance learning programs, but universities with existing distance learning programs often find that opening the programs to international applicants often meets with a great deal of success.

A woman taking an international distance learning class.
A woman taking an international distance learning class.

Through international distance learning, a student is able to simply log on to a website where he or she will find class materials, often including readings and lectures, as well as methods for interacting with other students or professors. This may include chat rooms or even video chat to interact in real time, discussion forums for composing longer posts, or email lists for easily contacting the other students in the class privately. Each student is typically free to log in at his or her convenience, as long as assignments and readings are completed by the specified time; this is especially convenient for students logging in from overseas, where time zones might make it difficult to be online at the same time as other students in the class, or for students with full time jobs.

There are some disadvantages to international distance learning; first, some people might prefer to travel for school, or to actually live in a new location, and distance learning makes this irrelevant. In addition, the costs are often the same as a regular program in residence, though loans and scholarships may be used to help fund it. It is also important to be a self-motivator if one is taking an international distance learning program. Students considering this type of program should consider their work and studying styles, and also ask any questions they can think of before applying, such as the ease of contacting the professor with questions or for help.

Sometimes, students will pursue an international distance learning program and then decide they actually want to move to the country in which the program is located. This type of education can open up new opportunities for learning, and can be a way to make contacts in one's chosen field all over the world. It is likely that as technology improves, both international and domestic distance learning programs will increase in popularity with students of all ages and educational backgrounds.

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