The closure of university campuses around the globe due to the Covid-19 pandemic was a big shock for the world of higher education. The pandemic forced the majority – if not all higher education institutions – to shift to a virtual learning experience. This is when the concept of ‘distance learning’ became a reality for millions of students. Traditionally, distance learning was available only for students who could not be physically present at university. Nowadays, however, distance learning has evolved so all students can experience student life remotely. Students have the flexibility to fit their studies into their daily routines by having 24/7 access to online materials and resources.
Today’s blog will focus on the good side and the benefits of distance learning regarding mental health.
Does Distance Learning have Positive or Negative Effects on Mental Health?
This topic is incredibly highly debated. To date, while for some, online learning could trigger their anxiety or stress levels, for others, online learning could boost their mental health due to the stress-free environment at home.
Let’s be honest – the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profoundly negative effect on many of us. Since the start of the pandemic in January 2020, the prevalence of anxiety and depression has almost doubled across some regions around the world. When it comes to higher education, mental health among students is reflected in anything that has to do with productivity and sociability; such as academic performance, social isolation, interpersonal interaction, missed classes, anxiety and stress.
Even though distance learning has received a lot of criticism and scepticism, there is no question that distance learning has taken over the educational sector. So let’s examine the largest benefits of this previously unpopular teaching method.
The Pros of Distance Learning
Believe it or not, distance learning may help reduce social anxiety and build a trusting relationship between students and professors. Read about four ways distance learning can boost your mental health below.
1. More flexibility
While a little bit of university pressure is to be expected at the very least, too much pressure could be harmful to one’s mental health. Distance learning allows students to combine work, social life, family and studies all at once. In contrast with traditional higher education where everything is organised based on a timetable, e-learning will enable students to make their university schedule based on their daily needs and life requirements. Flexibility also acts in terms of timing, deadlines and priorities. Everything is up to you, so make it work your way!
2. Self-paced & personalised experience
Continuing from the previous point – online education is here to prove that the traditional one-size-fits-all approach for education is no longer ideal for every student. Joining an online degree will give you one less worry when it comes to timing and scheduling.
To date, self-paced learning, also known as self-directed learning, happens when the learner takes the entire responsibility of their learning experience – always with the guidance and support of educators. This mode of learning creates a personalised learning environment which means that students can plan their university programme based on their needs, individual academic strengths and weaknesses. Imagine missing your lecture because you had other responsibilities outside the university. You can catch up with the classes and coursework any time through the online educational platform.
Self-paced learning was found to be beneficial in terms of developing ownership of learning, freedom to use different models of learning and identify the one that fits their needs the most. This mode of learning also enables students to focus on the areas that interest them most. Self-learning is also found to help students boost their self-esteem and self-reflection.
3. Engagement & trust relationships
Given the personalised online education experience, students and professors should be able to create strong trust bonds between them. Interaction with other students and their professors is much needed, especially since Covid-19 limited the majority of our social interactions. In contrast with on-campus universities, with distance education, students can easily arrange meetings with their professors. In addition to that, there are some exciting and alternative ways to socialise online. For example, students can use virtual offices, hangouts, online games or even virtual events. These are just a few ways online learning can be more engaging and enjoyable for students who get stressed out easily.
4. Stress-free environment
Being at home offers a feeling of safety for many students. Stressors are much less; thus students are more likely to be productive and enjoy their education journey. They can study in their favourite corner, have their snacks at any time, talk with their family and have a break whenever they need one. Here’s a typical example – we all know that the exam period is a stressful one. Studying for an online degree does not mean exams are over. However, on the bright side, they are usually effortless. An online-based exam might be in the form of multiple-choice questions. Your professors might give you a few hours’ window to complete your exam, while others will let you have an open book exam.
Distance learning for higher education is here to stay. By focusing on a student’s mental health, university experience can be much more enjoyable and effective. Study from home with a Unicaf Scholarship. Find the online degree of your choice and start your flexible and stress-free university journey.