Open and distance learning is a form of learning that focuses on freeing students from the constraints of time and place while offering flexible learning opportunities. For many married and working adults, open and distance learning (ODL) is a way of combining work and family responsibilities with educational opportunities.
The first challenge that online distance learners face is balancing the mix of work and education. Most open and distance education students are older, have jobs, and have families. Job responsibility is already daunting, not to mention family and learning. The task of balancing all the above responsibilities is a real challenge for most of them.
The second problem is acquiring distance study habits online. The everyday environment of students is very distracting for most students. Unlike traditional college students who are always in their learning community, which supports them most of the time, online distance students are not. Distractions like friends ordering dinner and wife demanding shopping at the mall every weekend are among other distractions students face. Buying some time in a day to study is quite a difficult task to complete.
Online distance learners also struggle to be independent and responsible to themselves. Most of the time, there is no one around to monitor the students’ learning process. The opening of the online distance program gives students the freedom to do their learning process whenever they want, but most of the time, procrastination is the culprit. The unfocused view of your learning goals will also cause students to act irresponsibly towards their learning.
Online distance learners also have trouble recognizing and mastering strengths and abilities. In online distance learning, technology is the main conduit through which information and communication flow. Generally, a computer with Internet access is required for this process and its application will require the user to master a certain level of acquisition. Students will also need to have some basic writing skills and a long distance command of the English language online. Unfortunately, not all students possess the skills mentioned above.
The fifth challenge is to motivate themselves, as well as maintain and increase self-esteem. In online distance education, students are often isolated from their peers and tutors. Motivational factors are absent due to lack of contact and competition with other students. The lack of immediate support from a teacher who is able to motivate will also affect students. In the long run, students may feel uncomfortable with their teacher and uncomfortable with their situation and learning environment.
Online distance learners also face some problems relating and interacting with their peers. Most of the time, students will learn more effectively when they have the opportunity to interact with other students. Unfortunately, the formation of the study group is not easy. This is due to the difference in the use of time between the students. A particular student may have some free time to meet with his classmates at 10 a.m. M. Every Saturday, but another student working in the government sector can still be at work at the exact time.
The next is to deal with distance learning strategies in addition to the package of printed material with which the students are familiar. There may be material from audiotape / videotape, television-assisted learning, overhead projectors, computer referencing, and computer-assisted instruction via the Internet. Some students may feel uncomfortable with these learning strategies due to a lack of skills and knowledge to use those strategies.
The penultimate challenge is preparing for and taking the exams. To excel on the exam, students must begin early to understand course content and prepare and review content. However, not all students start early in their learning process. Not having time, laziness, too much work to do are among other reasons given by these types of students to avoid studying for exams.
The latest challenge facing online distance students is using the library’s facilities to access information and references. Most of the library is only open during office hours and students would not be able to go to the library during office hours due to demanding work in the office. This will definitely cause problems for students who want to access the reference material. The library’s database program, like the OPAC, will also require students to have the proper training and skills to maximize use.
Open and distance learning courses are very different from a traditional classroom. Due to a number of challenges and obstacles, it often requires a high degree of commitment on the part of the learner.
To overcome these online distance challenges, students must first plan and manage themselves effectively in order to balance work, family, and study. They have to apply smart time management. Avoiding procrastination is essential. They must be more responsible and have a vision focused on learning. They must also learn to excel in areas that they lack (such as writing skills, note-taking skills, computer skills, and English language skills) because not all skills will be taught by the tutor. They need to motivate themselves by setting achievable goals and having a positive attitude. Due to lack of time to meet with their peers, they have to make an effort to interact with their peers and tutors frequently.