What is online learning and is it for you?

What is online learning and is it for you?

When trying to balance work and family life, the thought of furthering your studies can be daunting. Online learning may be the answer! In this blog we explore online learning as a mode of studying towards a qualification.

Online learning, which is also known as correspondence learning, is a form of education where face-to-face interaction between students and lecturers is limited or sometimes non-existent. Students signed up for an online learning programme typically study from home, instead of physically attending classes at an institution.

This concept is far from new. In fact, according to a team of NASA scientists assembled by Post University, distance learning began as far back as 1892 when the University of Chicago created the first college-level distance learning program. Institutions offering distance learning courses initially relied on the postal system to send students material. Fortunately, improvements in technology now allows instructors to forward resources via email or via a dedicated website.

What makes online learning popular?

Online learning has become popular in South Africa, mainly due to its convenience and affordability. Students can work and study at the same time and since it’s more affordable than class-based education, students are still able to earn a living while studying.

Accessibility is another reason why this form of studying has become so popular over the past few years. Evaluations are carried out by means of written assignments, exams, and portfolios of evidence and study material is delivered to students via the post, courier, or the internet.

To compensate for the lack of physical interaction between students and instructors, academic support is provided through channels such as telephone, email, instant messaging. Some academic institutions offer student support centres for students wanting to attend workshops and tutor sessions.

The advantages of correspondence/online learning education

Probably the main advantage of online learning is that it allows you to plan your studies around your work and home life. There is also no age limit to who can take advantage of online learning but apart from that, the advantages of correspondence education include:

  • More students have access to quality education. Disability, family responsibility, and distance are often to blame for students not attending university but since there’s no need to travel anywhere, online learning enables students to study from home.
  • It’s more affordable. Students can save money by not travelling to and from campus.
  • Students can work and study at the same time. Students are able to study according to their own schedules.
  • Students can study at their own pace and won’t be under pressure to keep up with their classmates. They also won’t be held back by slower students and can choose how much time they would like to spend on each section of the course.
  • Finally, students will be able to develop valuable skills that will be useful in their personal lives as well. Self-discipline, a sense of responsibility, time management and independent thinking skills are among the skills you will learn via online learning.

On the other hand, there are some disadvantages to correspondence/online learning education. For one, the fact that you won’t be able to physically speak to an instructor or lecturer when you have a question. In addition, your interaction with other students will be limited. Online Learning institutions like the IMM Graduate School have put in place online support mechanisms to overcome these issues. These include weekly online sessions with module lecturers and chat forums whereby students can interact. Regardless of these challenges however, the advantages of online learning appear to far outweigh the disadvantages.

Is online learning right for you?

This mode of studying is a great option for those who want to further their studies without disrupting their current schedule and lives.

Online learning will suit you if:

  •   You have a disability that makes it difficult to travel and get around.
  •   You have time-consuming personal responsibilities or a young family.
  •   You live in a remote area far from a campus or other education facility.
  •   You have good time management skills.
  •   You can work independently without a lecturer checking up on you.
  •   You prefer to work on your own, at your own pace, and in the comfort of your own home.
  •   And you would still like to work while you study.

Online learning isn’t for everyone but if any of the above points apply to you, why not get in touch?

The IMM Graduate School is an online learning institution, allowing you to study from anywhere, with the added benefit of not having to attend classes on a daily basis. With the wide variety of courses and qualifications available at affordable prices, you can study remotely without breaking the bank.

Need more information? Visit the IMM website at www.immgsm.ac.za to submit an enquiry or call us on 0861 466 476 to find out more.

Distance Learning with IMM Graduate School

Have you asked yourself where you want to be in five years’ time? That’s a question we ask ourselves throughout our lives.  Probably the most common answer is to secure your future and have a well-paid job, or in many instances, running your own business.

Of course, the trigger here would be to have graduated with a degree, certificate or diploma. But you might be in the situation where you  either can’t afford to attend university full-time or you are dependent on a job to support yourself or your family.  The solution would be to consider part-time distance/online study.

Fortunately, in this country, we have access to many private and public colleges or universities that offer these programmes. Some of the private institutions are the IMM Graduate School, Vega, Boston College, Damelin or Oxbridge. Then there are the large public institutions such as the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the University of Cape Town (UCT) and UNISA, the list goes on. Whichever institution you choose, you will earn the same qualification online as you would in a classroom.

Your first decision would be to decide how and where you want to study – at a large university such as UNISA or the smaller private institutions like the IMM Graduate School which tend to be more hands-on. It’s really a question of what makes you feel more comfortable.


The advantage of the IMM Graduate School, is that there are Student Support Centres around the country, with a team of administrative staff ready to assist with queries. You’ll also be in touch with your lecturer online every week.  The great thing is that you’ll get the chance to meet fellow students to share similar interests and challenges, and after all, we tend to be social beings, so you’ll never feel alone.

Student Pacers can help you pace your studies to make sure that you cover the entire module in preparation for your exams.  Should you miss one of the online live tutorials, not to worry, as you’ll be able to pick up the recorded version at a later stage.  Most important is that the IMM Graduate School is, by the way, one of the best private distance learning providers if you’re interested in an international qualification. So, you can study local and work global.

One of the great things about studying online is that you can do it in your own time and from just about anywhere.

Before you take the plunge, here are a few things you should know about distance learning:

The word ‘distance/online’ can be misleading because it could conjure up the idea that it means a ‘passive’ method of learning. Not true.

It can be said that distance learning requires a lot more discipline. You will need to schedule in your study time between work and other life commitments. Besides the education you will be gaining from your course, you will also gain much needed organizational and time management skills. Studying through distance learning is a proud achievement. IMM graduates stand out because when they qualify, they have so much more to offer and have ‘work ready’ skills, many of which were acquired through the process of distance learning.

While you are working your way through your programme, remember that you can be much more productive with a structured approach. According to guidelines set out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA, a 10-minute study break every 50 minutes is ideal.  At the start, plan smaller study sessions and as you become more confident, add a larger break of 30 minutes or more every couple of hours. These will not only be great goalposts to work towards, but they’ll help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated for your next study session.

Here are some suggestions for achieving great marks with the IMM Graduate School and getting on the good side of your lecturers, after all they are integral to your success.

  • Follow the guidelines provided in each modules study guide and get to understand the e-Learn system. Always make sure that your email is working and that you check your inbox regularly for any updates or announcements from your lecturers.
  • Communicate regularly with your lecturers and show an interest in and in your course module(s) and your fellow students. Ask questions if you don’t understand something and be courteous. This does wonders in establishing a positive relationship and builds trust between you and your lecturers.
  • Respond promptly to assignment deadlines and start preparation for your exams early.
  • Be disciplined and show that you can organise your life to meet the rigors of an online class.
  • BEWARE OF PLAGIARISM
    The most common form of plagiarism is where entire paragraphs or sentences are copied and pasted without acknowledging the source. Ignorance is no excuse.

Good luck and enjoy your studies.