Good vs Evil. Light vs Dark. Soup vs Salad.

Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal yet opposite reaction. That same principle tends to hold true not just in physics, but life as well.

Online and distance learning is no exception. For all that is great about online learning, there is a negative side to it. Fortunately, we don’t have to sit back and accept the negatives. In this case, you can actually do something about it.

How so? What can we do to keep a positive experience? As a famous district attorney once said,

“Why are we doing this? Because we are now two faces. One good, the other bad. Half-and-half. Fifty fifty. Opposite and equal. And we’re deadlocked. When that happens… we let the coin decide.”

-Harvey Dent, Two Face, Batman

So, maybe becoming a coin-flipping super-villain isn’t the right approach! But understanding the two sides of the online learning coin is a step in the right direction.

And with that, let’s examine the duality of online learning and how you can avoid from getting sucked into the seedy underworld of Gotham–or unsuccessful online and distance learning.

Heads: The Pros and Benefits of Online Learning

Perhaps, one of the greatest benefits to online and distance learning is the flexibility offered. It is unparalleled by even the most lenient of traditional schooling.

Some aspiring students may have nightmares of rushing to class late only to find that you have arrived without remembering to put on your pants. Well with the joys of online learning, you can make that nightmare a blissful reality!

Because there is no physical classroom, you can attend from the comfort of your very own bed and go virtually anywhere. For example, with a few clicks, you can visit a German blog, click translate, and learn about about recipes for deep frying food. Amazing!

But location is not the only area of flexibility offered by distance learning. Most courses offer the ability to learn on your own time.

No longer do you need to reschedule your day around attending a traditional course. You can simply find what time works best for you, and there you have it.

Also, most courses give you a recommended timeline for completion, but you have the freedom to work at your own pace. Some areas of you may find to come more naturally. These might not require so much time. However, other areas may make you put in a little more work. And that’s OK. Online learning allows you to work at your own pace to maximize your study habits.

Online learning is also made convenient for the student when it comes to researching courses. There are many great resources out there for locating the right choice for you. Long gone are times of cruising campuses.

For example, this AMAZING Virtual Assistance course guide from outlines many different courses that you can take at your leisure.

Another major benefit to online learning is individualized learning. These courses are all about you. Sometimes in traditional learning, your focus can get lost in a sea of other students. With online learning, you have the ability to personalize your education. Use this principle to divert more time to your weaknesses.

Online learning also eliminates what some like to call “Old Man Syndrome”.

There are many of us “oldies” out there that would love to continue our education. And there is absolutely NO problem with that. However, heading into a classroom full of people who may be 20 or more years our junior can be a little intimidating. Online learning helps to eliminate that intimidation so we can focus strictly on our education.

One great place to find online courses is Udemy. Udemy offers over 80,000 different online courses of all varieties. These are constructed by experts and range in difficulty from beginner to veteran levels.

Tails: Cons of Online and Distance Learning

As I mentioned above, there is a duality to online learning. With all the great benefits, there are some downsides to them. Thankfully, many of these can be countered through our approach.

For as much flexibility distance learning has, you must have even more discipline and self control.

In traditional learning environments, you are often given a goal, deadline, and supervision as to completion. However, in online learning, you must police yourself. You must be adamant in maintaining your goal and follow through with it. This is much like the difference between traditional and self-publishing.

So, how do you find the motivation to do so?

One great tip is to organize a vision board. Create a physical representation of what you are trying accomplish. Keep this where you can see it. Don’t just make it then hide it away. Post at your desk so you can see how much progress you have made.

You can also gather inspiration from other sources. Such as Usher.

He teaches a MasterClass entitled “The Art of the Performance”. One of his lessons is devoted strictly to creative ways to find inspiration and motivation. You can utilize these techniques to help you keep on track with your studies.

You can also watch Chef Ramsay’s course. Many of the principles from the kitchen transfer well to the creative world of the writer.

*By the way, those unfamiliar with what MasterClass is should check out my in-depth MasterClass review.

The next biggest hurdle with online classes is the lack of one on one time with your instructor. Many courses allow you the ability to take charge of your own learning– which is great. However, some students may find this approach lacking.

But if you are one of those driven self starters, then you should find online learning to be right up your alley. The benefits of individualized learning and flexibility can easily be achieved with the proper motivation and discipline. For those willing to put in the effort, I highly recommend taking online courses to further enhance your education.