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Rapid growth in distance education benefits business and individuals

Posted Mar 24 2009 3:57pm
This week is spring break in Oregon.

I happen to be away, taking a much-needed sun break in Hawaii.

But there’s no getting away from me, even though I’m not sitting at my desk pounding out articles this week.

And that’s the miracle of technology.

No matter where I am, I can make sure that some things still happen on time and for the intended audience. It requires some advance planning on my part, but it’s a pretty nice feature of technology – especially if umbrella drinks and sunscreen come with the deal!

I can communicate with you. You can read my communication when it’s convenient for you; neither one of us needs to be in the same physical space at the same time.

That’s one reason why distance learning is growing rapidly today. Last year, according to the Department of Education, 66 percent of 2- and 4-year colleges in the U.S. offered college-level distance education courses; over 11,200 programs were offered that were designed to be completed totally through distance education. Traditional classroom learning is not only inconvenient for many adults, it is not essential. The quality of many online educational programs is equal to, or better than, comparable classroom programs.

Corporations have grasped this benefit as well. Just-in-time training – available when the employee needs it to do his job, or when it’s convenient for him to learn – is clearly here to stay.

New-hire orientation training, with clear presentation of company goals and expectations, (and maybe a personal message from the President) needs to happen for each employee at the time of hire. Few of us hire in groups; fewer still can afford to provide this kind of training one-on-one.

Customer service training, skills training, compliance training – these are all more examples of instances where distance learning is appropriate; often even preferable.

It’s certainly preferable for the President of the company to be able to send out her personal message…while lying on a beach!
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