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From a Distance: The Advantages of Online Learning

This content is part of our Guide to Education advertising feature and was produced by Great West Digital.
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When moving or commuting to college or university isn't practical for you, consider the advantages online learning has to offer.

Credit and non-credit classes

Most of Alberta’s most well-known post secondary educators offer distance learning. However, not all distance learning courses offer credits. Credited courses count towards a diploma or a degree. Non-credit courses do not. However, there are many benefits to taking non-credit courses.

Non-credit classes are typically cheaper than their credited counterparts, and while they may not help you earn a degree, they can count as continuing education credits towards a license, promotion, or work-related goal. They also improve your resume and, therefore, your chance of being hired. Non-credit courses improve personal and professional development and make a great springboard for entrepreneurs launching their own business, employees demonstrating ambition, and anyone interesting in learning new skills.

Who offers distance learning education in Alberta?

Most post secondary institutions in Alberta offer a form of distance learning, including (but certainly not limited to):

• Athabasca University – Full Program Credit Courses: Athabasca University’s policy of being flexible and open is exactly what many distance learners need. Transfer credits are accepted and all the programs are delivered online. Students are supported with tutors, counselling, academic advising and financial support.

• University of Alberta (U of A) – Credit and Non-Credit Courses: U of A offers a range of options on a couple of platforms. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) include general interest and for-credit courses. EClass is a portal used by instructors to provide remote access to course information and assignments for students, which is great for students who attend on campus but cannot always be present in class.

• NAIT and SAIT – Credit, Certificate, and Non-Credit Courses: Both NAIT and SAIT offer a variety of courses for formal studies, personal interest, and upgrading across a variety of industries such as accounting, human resources, culinary arts, and construction management.

• MacEwan University – Credit and Non-Credit Online Programs and Open Studies: MacEwan University has several full and part-time programs available online, including arts and cultural management, correctional services, and hearing aid practitioner. Open Studies, on the other hand, is for learners not in a specific program and visitors from other post-secondary institutions. A student can achieve a maximum of 24 credits overall (at a rate of 6 credits per term) in Open Studies.

• NorQuest College – Credit and Non-Credit Online and Hybrid Courses: NorQuest College has a unique offering when it comes to distance learning. Some programs’ online delivery is through anytime studies, which is the traditional work-at-your-own-pace method. Others are real-time where the student logs into the classroom remotely and attends class with other remote students online. Hybrid classes are delivered with some in-person attendance on campus, and some online course components.

Preparing to learn from a distance

Carving out times to dedicate to your coursework is very important. If you have a home office, set times with your family or roommates where you can learn undisturbed. Check out resources like libraries and business centres where access to a computer is free or provided in a quiet space for a nominal cost. Stay on top of your deadlines and coursework – self motivation is important when distance learning.

A great option

Distance learning is a great option for Albertans living far from urban centres, students who must work while they also complete studies, those looking to learn part-time, or those who simply do better through self-directed learning. Most of Alberta’s post-secondary educators accommodate distance learning, so explore this option and see how higher education can fit into your life, no matter where you live or how you prefer to learn.