People who wish to attend school are not always able to completely devote themselves to full-time studies; instead, they must balance work with school. Online and correspondence courses allow individuals to pursue educational goals without having to attend classes on a campus. Although very similar in nature, the programs have their differences. Knowing the nature of the programs will allow individuals to choose the route that is best for them.

Online Learning

In online learning programs, instruction and interaction between instructors and students occurs remotely. Online courses use the Internet in one-way and two-way transmissions to deliver content. Through chat rooms and online conferences, students may communicate with instructors and with classmates in real time. Email and discussion forums offer additional interaction. Schools' policies vary on whether students may take online quizzes and exams on their own or under the supervision of a proctor. For some programs, a proctor is required to supervise the test taker and to verify the student's identity, either at a testing center or online through a webcam.

Correspondence Learning

Correspondence courses are the oldest form of distance learning, predating the Internet. Students in correspondence courses work more independently than students in online classes. Students enrolled In correspondence courses receive instructions on how to access reading and writing assignments. Textbooks, workbooks or listening guides vary from course to course. At Oklahoma State, these instructions guide students through the course as a traditional professor does. Students submit assignments that professors grade and return to students either by postal mail or email. Any interaction between student and instructor is initiated by the student. Courses are self-paced, and students generally have one year to finish a course.