Studying by distance education

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More than 2,600 primary and secondary students study through the Distance Education Centre Victoria (new window).

There are all sorts of reasons people study by distance education, usually it’s because they want to study a subject their school doesn’t offer, they live in a remote area or they have a medical condition or disability that makes it hard for them to attend classes.

Christine, 17, lives on an apple farm in the Gippsland Alps. She is completing her VCE by distance education because the closest secondary school is a one-and-a-half hour drive away.

What VCE subjects are you studying?

English, General Mathematics, Literature, Geography, Biology and I have recently finished Year 12 Food & Technology.

What do you think are the benefits of studying by distance education?

Studying by distance allows me to concentrate better and I find that I can learn quickly and more thoroughly. I am self disciplined and also confident with reading because I have to study this way rather than listening to the teacher. This type of education helps me to take control over my own learning rather than relying on the teacher.

Are there any disadvantages to studying by distance education?

One disadvantage is that you have very little social contact. There are school seminars but very few classmates attend and you don't really make friends there.

Also if a student isn't physically active they could gain weight from lack of exercise because the schooling only involves sitting at your desk not moving around from classroom to classroom. For me this is not a problem because of my farm chores.

What level of support do you have from your teachers?

My teachers are great supports for me. If they can see I have a problem or have not sent in an activity they will contact me.

Do you get to spend much time with other students your age?

I have friends my own age through my church who I see on average about once a week but every few months I will go to a social activity (a dance or ball) in Melbourne with them. I have one friend who is a classmate and I met her in Year 10 because we were both excellent science students and were invited to two science seminars.

What is the process for you to submit assignments and sit assessments?

Most of my school work is done in books and I have a certain amount I have to do each week. I will then email or post this work to the school and it will be corrected and sent back.

My course is available online and I could complete it this way but my family doesn't have mains electricity, we produce our own. I prefer using the books and then typing up particular assignments.

I sat my Year 11 exams at home, supervised by my parents, but for the Year 12 exams I will attend the nearest secondary school.

What are your plans for the future?

After completing Year 12 I would like to study Health Science at university, perhaps dietetics. I plan to live in a rural area helping the health of country people.