Correspondence courses are really in demand nowadays especially by people who want to acquire education but are very busy to go to formal institutions or schools. Of course, education, whether by residential or through correspondence courses is considered very important in this advanced, industrialized society. Oxford dictionary defines education as an “enlightening process”,“the process of receiving and giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” However, such a course changes the traditional perception of education. Correspondence courses break the barriers and limitations to people by providing content that is beneficial, cheap, and very enthralling. This is one of the reasons why these days,correspondence courses are becoming very popular.
In western and other societies, formal education starts at preschool education, then primary school, secondary school and finally tertiary school. However, some people opt to go for graduate studies to attain master’s degrees or doctorate degrees. However, because of some circumstances such as work or absence of education institutions in one’s place, some people take correspondence courses. The said course is also known as distance learning—a type of education that needs not the residence of a learner. In this kind of education, students are educated through online classes by a teacher or teachers that are geographically far from them. Students of this course buy textbooks, notes, and other materials in their own places. Sometimes the students receive modules from the institution or the instructor himself. The students are graded using the assignments, exams and reports they give back to their instructors.
Correspondence courses started in 1728. , when Caleb Phillips, a teacher, posted an ad in the Boston Gazette newspaper that he is searching for students who are willing to be receive weekly lessons. Modern distant learning that dates back in the 19th century was mainly depending on the postal services during that time. Conventionally, distance learning is done through the traditional mailing system. Institutions and instructors mail the lessons and the materials to the students and the students mail back their examinations, reports and homework. The disadvantages of this include the lengthy time lapse between the sending and the receiving of the material. Also, it takes money to send the lessons, assignments, modules, etc. to the students and to the instructors as well.
Fortunately, with the advent of technology in this 21st century, distance learning has never been easier and faster. Nowadays, instructors can send the module (in PDF format) to the students through e-mail. The students, on the other hand, can send their course works through the same medium. Aside from that, the materials used in distance learning can also be improved and updated. Since there are many sources of information in the World Wide Web, the students may get new, reliable and free or cheap information that will help them in their study. Added to that, with the messenger or chat application of the internet, students and teachers can instantly communicate with each other—as if both of them are talking inter-personally. Other applications and social networking sites such as Yahoo! Group, Facebook, Friendster and Twitter can enable the students under the same course to have group discussions about difficult topics.
In her book “The Nature and Purpose of Distance Education,” Diana Oblingerwrote several advantages of distance learning. First, distance learning is very, very flexible. This type of education can meet the demands for education of busy and time-restraint people since they can choose their study time. Another advantage of distance learning is that it can save building funds, tax, city services and the other infrastructure funds that the institution needs. Next, distance learning is better for the students and the institutions as well. In traditional learning, there is usually an age limit for acquiring education. Secondary education, for instance, expects the student to be around 16-20 years old. Same is through with graduate studies; students are expected to be around 20-25. This is not the case for distance learning. In distance learning, everyone, regardless of the age can acquire education. This strategy is also beneficial for educational institutions because they can acquire larger audience thus, larger market. The last advantage Oblinger gave in her book is that distance learning can be a catalyst for a more competitive and innovative market for education.
There are a lot of courses offered in correspondence courses. Some of these include Accounting Finance & Bookkeeping, Agriculture, Architecture, Arts and Design, Beauty Therapy, Business & Management, Career Development, Customer Service, Education, English Language, Fashion, Government, Health & Medicine, Language, Music, Microsoft, Philosophy & Religion, Photography, Science, Share Trading, Tourism, Writing & Publishing and a whole lot more. Though almost all courses are now offered online through distance learning, the learner should also take into consideration the requirements for his or her course. For courses that needed actual environment such as forests, ranches or barn, taking online classes is not a very good idea. Well, one can still have these courses through distance learning. However, the student should be sure first that he has an environment in which he can work in. On the other hand, courses such as that of music, computer and those that can be learned without changing the environment is well-suited for distance learning.
Lastly, almost all universities around the world offer correspondence courses. Before choosing an university for correspondence courses, it is important to check on what institution has excellence on the course that one wants. It is not a good idea to go for computer science in an institution famous for agriculture. Likewise, it is not good to take fashion correspondence courses in universities that are known for social sciences. So, whatever course one wants in correspondence courses, what is more important is that the correspondence courses taken are really beneficial and educating. Otherwise, these courses should also be enthralling, fun, cheap and very accessible for the people getting it.