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Adult learners often struggle when going back to school, as life makes it difficult to attend classes. If you find yourself in this position, you might be happy to learn that, according to a 2012 survey, 6.7 million college students took at least one online course during the fall 2011 semester — and this number continues to rise.

The amount of e-learners increases by about 10 percent every year, making this a viable method of receiving a degree for many people. As the demand of people earning their degrees from home rises, the course offerings will feature monumental growth as well.

The Brief History of Distance Learning

Distance education program is a relatively new phenomenon, as it first became prominent in 2002. Currently, 1,602,970 students in the United States took at least one online course. That figure increased by 23 percent in 2003 and was up to 3.1 million by 2005. Even as the number of graduates who are enrolled in post-secondary school declines, individuals who take courses available through the Internet has climbed steadily for over ten years.

How to Study Online?

While most students struggle to get out of bed in the morning and find their way to their local campus, e-learners have much more flexibility and convenience. Most of these classes are completed on your own time, so you do not have to worry about attending lectures or seminars. Distance learning gives them extra chance to study and complete assignments in their free time, which many find much easier.

When completing your coursework, you will have to organize yourself and set aside enough time to finish your assignments by their due dates. In many cases, you will have an entire semester to complete all of your coursework. In other classes, you will have to submit your coursework as you go.

All of your work is submitted virtually as well, so you do not have to look around campus for your professor's office and place your completed assignments in his or her rectangular wire basket. All you have to do is submit your articles via the school's open learning database, which takes much of the hassle out of the situation.

Depending on your educational institution, you may also be able to interact with your classmates in a web conference. Live webinars allow groups to work together on projects and professors to present course material to the entire class. Oftentimes, students will also be able to present their projects and presentations to the rest of their class at a designated hour.

The Future of Distance Education

Moving forward, we are likely to see further growth in the number of online programs offered by universities, as 69.1 percent of all academic directors have identified e-learning as an important part of their schools’ futures. About 77 percent of these academic leaders also believe that the learning outcome is the same online as it would be in a traditional learning environment.

All of this point towards increased availability of distance education in the future, which is good news for those who want to earn a degree, but simply do not have the energy or motivation to attend class.

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