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Distance Learning for Working Professionals
Distance learning is a valid, appropriate, internationally recognised, relatively low cost, convenient, effective, and enjoyable way for a working professional to study for and obtain new qualifications, and learn new tools and techniques.
All professional sectors now demand that their internal managers and specialists, and their external consultants and advisors, are appropriately experienced and hold up to date qualifications. This is the world of continuous professional development. If you are a manager, expert, specialist, working for an organisation, public, private, charity, ngo, family owned, small or large, this is expected of you. If you are an entrepreneur, consultant, independent, freelance, you are expected to be able to demonstrate that you are keeping up to date, that you are continuously developing your background knowledge and your specialist skills. Distance learning is a good first choice for continuous professional development.
The growth of distance learning has area has been exponential. The Unesco report, from 2002, highlighted the role that distance learning is playing, and not only in the developing countries, but in the highly developed countries too. It describes distance learning “as a force contributing to social and economic development, open and distance learning is fast becoming an accepted and indispensable part of the mainstream of educational systems in both developed and developing countries” In the USA, distance and open learning is now well established, not only for working, mature, students, but interestingly, for school students also. In 2003 it was estimated that “more than 30% of schools are offering courses over the internet and through video conferencing.” US Education Department analysts predict a doubling of this within 5 years, to over 60% of US schools offering courses by distance learning. In Africa, across the continent, distance learning is rapidly overtaking classroom study, with predictions that by the year 2010 there will be over 10 million working professionals studying by distance learning. In 2004, students enrolled on distance learning courses with the Indira Gandhi Open University, in India, totaled over 400,000.
In addition to the evidence provided by the exponential, massive growth that is happening and is forecast to continue, employers around the world are accepting distance learning qualifications as equally credible with classroom ones. In most of the professions, such as accountancy, engineering, teaching, distance learning is already firmly established. In disciplines such as project management, quality management, supply chain management, marketing, distance learning is growing rapidly as a highly credible alternative to classroom delivery. In fact, for professionals in project management, consultancy, quality management, and accountancy, study by distance learning now dominates and is the preferred choice of most professionals. Examples of how well established the acceptance of employers has become is provided by the global giants, such as Microsoft, Dell, British Airways, General Motors, Reliance, HSBC, and Nissan, all of whom readily recruit those with distance learning qualifications. In Education, most leading universities, on all continents, are now offering courses delivery by classroom and by distance learning. Colleges, universities, business schools, in the private and public sectors, are all accepting distance learning qualifications as satisfying entry requirements for students to move on to higher levels of study (which can often be by distance learning!).
How acceptable is distance learning? Totally acceptable. For younger, working, developing managers, specialists, a carefully selected distance learning course is totally appropriate, and totally credible. For older, working, mature, more experienced professionals, a distance learning course and-or qualification, is highly appropriate, often the only option, but totally acceptable.
About the Author: CJ Williams is a tutor and management consultant currently working with Brighton School of Business and Management in the UK, specialising in Business and Management courses taught via distance learning.
CJ has had a wide and varied career including working as an Executive Manager in the Hospitality Industry, a Management and Business consultant in the Middle East, Europe and Asia and a Management Lecturer in the UK and China.
He currently focuses on helping individuals and teams to develop personally and professionally.
The writer, CJ Williams, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via www.brightonsbm.com