The COVID 19 pandemic may cause disruption with on-campus learning as we observe quarantine with the travel ban in place. Online distance learning is gaining more attention especially for international students. 

If the pandemic persists and the travel ban is not lifted by fall, students will have to start their first semester online and then travel to their destination university at a later date. While this is different and relates particularly to the pandemic, many families must be wondering what online distance learning would look like for university students. 

What is Online Distance Learning?

Online distance learning also called e-learning is a form of education which includes physical separation of teachers and students during instruction, by the use of technology such as a laptop or computer to facilitate student to teacher, and student to student communication. 

Starting fall 2020 classes online due to the travel ban would be different from pursuing a typical online degree. This is because this type of particular adjustment is as a result of a pandemic and the goal would still be to travel and enroll on campus when possible. Majority of the universities in Canada and the United States have online distance learning solutions for both undergraduate and graduate students. 

Online Distance learning

It is important to note that in the US, even though a university may offer these classes, regulations give strict limits to the amount of online or distance learning an F1 student must follow. The following are rules outlined on the official website of the Department of Homeland Security:

  1. An F-1 student may only count one online or distance education course without the physical oversight of a school employee (or the equivalent of three credits) toward a full course of study per academic term. 
  2. F-1 students may be eligible to take more than one online class to maintain their status as long as the class is physically proctored or monitored by a school employee.
  3. English language program students may not count online or distance education courses toward a full course of study.

So this means it is possible as an international student to pursue online distance learning but it has to be monitored by official employees of the university, that is,  the professors or the admissions team in place. 

What are the Benefits of Online Distance Learning

  1. Students learn most of their units as they would in a traditional class set up with the exact same curriculum. This gives you a kick-start on your degree as opposed to not taking any classes as you wait for the travel ban to be lifted.
  2. The online classes, especially with the current pandemic, gives students the flexibility to interact with family and their pets during free periods.
  3. Online distance learning will also give parents a chance to engage and understand more about the various courses their children are taking.

Online distance learning is a wonderful opportunity and solution for students during these unprecedented times. Many students are concerned about interaction with other students, physical activities on campus and the quality of education. It’s important to know that universities are working around the clock to ensure efficient online solutions to help you get started with your degree.

By Genevieve Mohamed

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