It is important for you to know what technologies your potential distance learning college uses before you enroll, because the different teaching technologies affect how you learn and how flexible your schedule can be.
The main technologies used are forums (electronic bulletin boards) and listservs, which allow students and teachers to post (or distribute) messages to other classmates as well as read messages from other classmates. This is the most flexible method, because you can read and post messages at anytime in the day to meet your convenience.
Many colleges will require a certain level of participation from you, such as sending and responding to messages three to five times per week.
Another method of learning is a moderated chat room, where your teacher leads a discussion in a chat room and students from all over the globe can type in their responses for the other students to read as soon as it is typed. This, obviously, requires all of the students to be available at the same time. If you are working, or in a different time zone from the school, this could be inconvenient. But at least you would get real-time interaction that would approximate a real classroom discussion.
Other methods used by distance learning colleges include: video, books, compact discs or audio lessons, either through the computer, or over cable TV., that cover a lesson and describe your assignments.
Some online colleges are experimenting with video conferencing technology where you can see the teacher teach, in an actual class, on your computer, and you can actually participate in a discussion with the class. This method, as you can imagine, can be full of glitches, especially if you do not have a highs speed connection. Therefore, do not be too eager to use such methods.
(By the way, if you decide to enroll in a distance learning college, get a high speed connection and an inexpensive laser printer, if you do not already have them. (“Brother” has a top rated laser printer for the price of a few ink cartridges). You will save yourself a lot of time and heartache.)
Make sure you find out what technology your potential distance learning college uses, so you can plan accordingly