Keep in mind that support is one of the keys to a successful distance learning experience. So when choosing a course and provider, you should put this factor on top of your considerations.
Does the provider offer academic support?
Although most distance learning courses are carried out online, there is still a need for feedback that will allow you, the student, to know which areas you need to improve on. This form of academic support is delivered by a course instructor or instructional assistant. Timeliness is of the essence when it comes to providing feedback. If you get answers to your questions immediately, then you will be able to learn from your mistakes quickly and apply what you have learned later on in the course.
Apart from providing timely feedback, it is equally important that the provider is able to give you access to a diverse range of educational materials, libraries, and other research resources. These things foster a motivating learning environment and will also enable you to get familiar with and progress better in your course.
Does the provider offer administrative support?
Since the nature of distance learning is to allow learners to study virtually, its primary challenge is meeting the unique administrative needs of students. Whereas in a traditional campus environment you can walk in an office and ask a personnel to assist you in registering for classes, ordering books or getting information on financial aid, distance learning rarely allows such type of face-to-face interaction. As such, when looking for a quality course and provider, you should be certain there is a trained administrative support on hand whom you can get in touch with at all times.
Does the provider offer technical support?
Technical difficulties are a pain for both distance learners and providers. They affect the momentum of students as they study and they somewhat reflect the quality of service a provider gives. Hence, the availability of technical support is something you should consider when picking a provider. Try to understand the scope of technical support a provider can give. Is it just limited to password resetting or does the support have the capacity to troubleshoot more complex technical issues?
A word of advice on STUDENT SUPPORT:
It will be difficult to determine the quality and level of support a provider can give to its students, considering that most of them will promote their services in the best light. In this respect, it will be best if you can talk to former students about the matter. Since they have been there, they will be able to give you an insight about their experience, which in turn will let you know if it is worth your time and money going for a particular provider or not.