Information Systems Distance-Learning Degree: Student Profile | Top Universities

Information Systems Distance-Learning Degree: Student Profile

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By Staff Writer

Updated March 5, 2016 Updated March 5, 2016

Chris Hull may be busy travelling the world, but thanks to distance learning, he's also completing a degree in communications and information systems.

Chris Hull's textbooks go with him everywhere: on the plane, into the desert and to the top of mountains.

As a Corporal in the UK's Royal Air Force, distance learning was the only viable option for Chris, but he's passing with flying colours. Here, he tells about his experience.

Chris Hull joined the RAF as a boy entrant in 1991 at the age of 17. He chose to abandon his A-levels for a career, a regular salary and a higher-level qualification. But once he had established his military career he felt the urge to develop further and to better his chances of promotion.

"Returning to full time study wasn't an option for me, but the Open University was highly recommended, so I gave it a try. That was in 1994."

More than 10 years later, distance learning has become a way of life for Chris. He has completed Certificates in Natural Sciences and Business Studies and numerous standalone courses for personal interest. He is now studying towards the Foundation Degree in Leadership and Management, with a view to completing an Honours Degree when it becomes available.

"Over the years I've literally travelled half the globe. Whether employed in the UK or deployed overseas, if I couldn't take it with me, I've had to leave it behind. Distance learning, when delivered well, can be a Godsend to people like myself who can't return to the classroom.

"I've studied mathematics in the desert and business on top of a mountain. How else could you sustain a commitment to academic study, without the flexibility that distance learning provides?"

Most importantly for Chris, distance learning through the Open University has suited his nomadic lifestyle. He's never had to abandon his studies and has the support from the Open University whenever an extension on an assignment has been needed.

"I feel the "process" of academic study has equipped me with an enquiring, analytical mind and encouraged a creative approach to solving problems. My employer benefits too because I can apply new ideas or concepts directly to the workplace, without absence from my team or work commitments."

But studying via distance learning for almost 15 years hasn't come without its challenges. Over the years, Chris has experienced every conceivable emotion from despair to panic, relief to elation. He realizes that distance learning won't suit everybody, but he's been one of the lucky ones.

"Distance learning does require motivation and a little sacrifice. It will invade your private Iife. I know my family sometimes wish I'd switch off the computer or put down my books, but I remind myself it's important, not just for me, but for my family's future. Qualifications can open doors.

As for recommending distance learning to others, Chris says it depends very much on the kind of person you are.

"If you're a self-starter who enjoys working in the comfort of your home (or in far flung parts of the world, as I sometimes do) then distance learning is the way forward. If you need that human touch, tutors and peers will help you every step of the way; distance learning is not the lonely experience it used to be.

"However, if you're the kind of person who wants to be taught or would prefer to box your studies away from your personal life, perhaps there are alternatives that you might consider first.

"Either way, distance learning speaks volumes about your motivation, dedication and desire to learn. Now that can't be a bad thing, can it?"

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in March 2016

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