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Self-paced Courses in Distance Learning: A Good Idea for Teachers?

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Heather Marie Kosur•updated: 7/5/2011

It is a common misconception that a distance learning education is entirely 'go at your own pace'. Finding an online college that offers self-paced course options actually takes a bit of searching. Do you have the unique student qualifications that spell success with self-paced learning?

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    Asynchronous Learning

    The independence of a distance learning education greatly appeals to professionals with a full schedule -- or those who do not wish to make the commitment of attending a brick and mortar college. By their very nature, self paced classes allow students to pick and choose the times of day during which they will respond to instructor questions, leave feedback for other class members, or listen to recorded lectures. On the flipside, these students are still bound by the overall framework that defines the starting and ending dates of the class as well as any instructor determined due dates for homework, exams, and projects.

    Having a schedule for schoolwork and starting---as well as ending---dates makes it possible to keep a predictable personal calendar. There is no danger of a time crunch that might require a student to prepare a number of assignments in the last week before a class ends. Additionally, the danger of laboring on one class for a prolonged period of time is also greatly minimized. Nevertheless, for the student who believes s/he can handle complete freedom, there is one distance learning school that offers just that.

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    Walden University for Educators

    Walden University offers graduate courses within its education curriculum that are self-paced. These classes are specifically designed for teachers who are currently engaged in daily teaching activities. Walden is a highly regarded school within the learning community and also accredited.

    Educators have the opportunity to take advantage of the Walden courses through classes offered by Canter. This course provider partners with accredited universities and the distance learning college to provide teacher education classes on their behalves. While the schools include Andrews University, Marygrove College, the University of New England, Olivet Nazarene University, Cardinal Stritch University, and Indiana Wesleyan University, it is only the relationship with Walden that makes it possible for students in all states to benefit from the asynchronous coursework. Other schools limit their offerings to one or a few states.

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    But how does it Work?

    If you choose to enroll at Walden because it is an online college that offers self paced course work for educators, you may start your education right away. Canter provides a study guide, but it is up to you to translate this guide into a workable schedule for you. Moreover, it is highly desirable that you follow the lessons in sequence rather than jumping around. Collaboration, which usually would be handled via the online in-class discussion board option, may now be conducted with a fellow teacher. Walden will grade class assignments, which you may turn in at your pace. As it stands, the materials you receive greatly mimic those of a correspondence course.

    This kind of study is ideal for the highly motivated self starter who needs little outside push or validation to start and keep going. Unless you are passionate about teaching, eager for learning new models and concepts -- and willing to steadily fit in studying time -- this is not a good solution for you. Moreover, if you are a bit of a procrastinator or believe that you might at some point during your course of study suffer from the age old temptation to switch majors or change careers, it is best to stick with a predictable curriculum that the average distance education facility offers.

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