Whether you call them correspondence courses, distance learning courses, or online learning courses, they’re very much alive and kicking all around the world, including Australia, as more and more people look for greater flexibility and accessibility around their studies.
Correspondence courses (before and now)
Although many think distance learning courses are a recent phenomenon, they’ve actually been around for over 100 years.
According to Forbes, a team of Ph.D’s and scientists from NASA traced distance learning back to 1892, when the University of Chicago created the world’s first college-level distance learning programme. Back in the early days, these courses relied on the U.S. Postal Service for course correspondence. Later, in 1921, they utilised live radio shows, followed by televised broadcasts in 1963.
It was in the 1990s and 2000s though that online courses became the dominant method for distance learning. And, since the 2011 introduction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – courses that are free and open to unlimited student numbers – the prevalence of online learning courses have continued to skyrocket.
Distance learning in Australia
In Australia, distance learning courses are usually offered online, by correspondence, or a combination of both. You can study these courses through:
- The Open Training and Education Network (OTEN)
- Open Universities Australia (OUA)
- An Australian University
- A private provider; or
- A secondary school
Whether you’re a distance learning or an on-campus student, you’re eligible for the same student payments if you’re studying a full-time study load. (Source ).
Online learning in Australia
Depending on the level you wish you study, there are several institutions in Australia that offer online courses.
Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are training providers that have been registered by the Australian Government’s Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to deliver vocational education and training (VET) services in Australia, and there are currently about 5,000 of these.
TrainSmart Australia is a great example of an RTO that offers online courses, enabling you to study alongside your work and other personal commitments. As well as being an RTO, it’s also a VET Student Loan-approved training provider, which means when you study one of their courses, you could be eligible for a VET Student Loan to help fund your studies, so that you don’t need to pay your full course fees upfront. They offer a range of nationally-recognised Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Certificate courses in areas including:
- Creative arts
- Beauty therapy
- Health and community services
- Business and management
- Information and technology
So if you’re thinking about studying a course in an area you’re interested in, but looking for greater flexibility than on-campus courses can offer, correspondence courses still exist and are a great way to learn something new and expand your career opportunities while enjoying the freedom to carry on with your day-to-day commitments.