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Distance Learning versus Brick and Mortar


An initial ad hoc approach to analysis of distance learning versus traditional brick and mortar education.

Right now brick and mortar (B&M) is ahead.

* History- B&M
* Flexibility- distance learning
* Respect earned by grads- B&M
* Ease of learning- distance learning
* Honor amongst peers- B&M
* Established and accepted training format- B&M
* Cost- distance learning
* Diploma as an aid in job search- B&M.

This is a static view. One factor that influences the balance against distance learning is the effort by distance learning schools to try to copy the B&M educational model. Distance learning by its nature must accomplish the primary task using other methods. B&M will always be better at being B&M.

I have known many students that took the easy path at B&M schools; find the easiest teachers, in the easiest courses, in the simplest discipline. I have known students at both B&M and distance learning schools that had others do required work for them.

Outside of ethics, there are at least two factors that made this a viable strategy for a student. First, jobs acquired after graduation had little to do with what they supposedly studied. They were hired for their degree and grades, and expected training to prepare them for their new job. Second, the reason they went to school was to get a good job, actual learning had little to do with their goal for receiving an education.

There are of course many entries on the other side of the ledger, There are large numbers of students at B&M and distance learning schools that study very hard, do their own work, and apply diligence toward their education. But for most of them it is the same goal that drives them, they want a good job upon graduation.

Education, a degree, and a good job have become synonymous. Seeking knowledge, learning new and useful things, is at best secondary in the modern educational equation. Few students would risk harming their grade point average to take a class just to learn something.

At this progression; education, degree, good job, the B&M schools are without equal. Distance learning is a dubious second place, and has lesser value because of its lack of ability to compete directly on B&M turf.

Just 30 years ago the plan was simple. Get a degree, get a job at IBM or equivalent, never leave and they would never lay you off. You would be well paid, be forced to travel and move, and you worked toward retirement after 40 years. That model no longer works. Current Graduates are forced to put government in place of IBM, they are not very well paid, they will work in a painfully degrading bureaucracy, but they can still anticipate a reliable job with a decent retirement.

The next 10 to 30 years and beyond are going to be very tough on this newer model. We are likely to go through a series of deep recessions and maybe a greater depression. Government is going to down size and privatize, they will have to. B&M universities are therefore graduating workers looking for jobs that are disappearing.

Now that you are depressed, let me cheer you up with the good news.

Learning will become an all life experience, and it will be a pleasure. The same technologies that are dismantling bloated industrial age institutions will liberate work. You can start your own business very cheaply, you can re-train frequently for ever better opportunities. The liberating influence of renaissance education will become the new, new thing.

If you pursue your passions, learning is a by product, not a short term goal. You will not spend time, money, and lost opportunity jumping through bureaucratic hoops to get a degree. You will learn as you pursue your passion, this is the model of the new renaissance education. You will research what you want to know, seek out what is of value to you, and you can use knowledge acquired to create wealth.

"If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

Your best investment in a wonderful personal future will be an investment in yourself. Visit http://silentpc.org/university/revivere.php to learn more about your personal renaisance.

If you work at what you love, at what you are passionate about, you will never experience a dull job. This is why BFU exists. Liberate yourself from constrictions of the fading industrial age, seek out and discover where meaningful action based on your passion is rewarded.

About the Author

Allan Wallace is the Founder of Silent Partner Consulting and the Rector of both Junior Partner Ministries and Bastiat Free University. http://www.silentpc.org/aboutus.php#Biography "The risks and rewards for you from creative entrepreneurship are greater, and of far more value to society, than illusions of security that enslave a human cog in a social machine."


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