Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Weighing up face-to-face versus distance studying

Deciding to pursue postgraduate tax training or a Master of Taxation? Should you study in-house or via distance education? We look at some of the things you might want to consider before making your decision.

Planning

Face-to-face learning relies on a prescribed schedule. And for some, that's a good thing. Being able to diarise and stick to a given timetable has its benefits. An established teaching structure means that learning and assessments are paced, can be planned for and must take priority. For those who have a tendency to procrastinate, face-to-face learning can help avoid backlogs.

However, some prefer the flexibility of being able to schedule their own learning – they can slot in studying when it’s convenient and take control of their education. Tax courses taught online, like the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, offer that flexibility, with the only requisite being access to the internet. No longer are geography and other commitments barriers to advancing your career through education.

Focus

For some, classroom environments are conducive to positive studying outcomes, and face-to-face learning can be specifically structured to enhance focus and concentration. Attending lectures in person may help to avoid interruptions, distractions and delays to educational progression.

Others prefer the comfort of their own homes or offices when they study, and online studying provides immediate access to education, without the travel or the inconvenience of booking time out of the office.

Eugene Berkovic, director of taxation at GMK Partners, considers this to be a plus. “From an employer’s point of view, distance learning allows students to better manage and balance work commitment and study. This will often make them more productive and efficient.”

Maximising learning

Face-to-face education allows for the opportunity to ask questions, enter into discussions and practise newly acquired skills in real time. It also means assessment pieces can be enhanced by the contributions of your peers and the testing and tweaking of skills.

However, advances in technology mean that tax training online is not a bar to proper learning. In fact, many suggest that comprehensive electronic and printed resources, online support and frequent online contact with tutors can be of such a high standard that they enhance the learning process.

Networking

One of the great bonuses of face-to-face learning is the forging of professional relationships. For Berkovic, networking is one of the benefits of meeting likeminded professionals in a learning environment.

Having said that, distance learning provides opportunities for engagement without geographical barriers through things such as group web/teleconference tutorials, which are designed with participant interaction in mind.

The quality gap between distance and face-to-face learning has narrowed. For busy professionals, distance learning no longer means compromising on standards. It can, however, mean achieving advancement without compromising on professionalism, and that's something worth considering.


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