Master’s degree health and welfare coordinator students of Savonia University of Applied Sciences see distance learning as an opportunity
Distance learning has become more and more common in recent years, in particular because of the pandemic. Now many master’s degree studies are carried out remotely in Finland. In Savonia University of Applied Sciences most master’s degree students of health and social care study by distance learning, for example in the Master’s Degree Programmes of Health and Welfare Coordinator, Mental Health Promotion and Substance Abuse Prevention, Management and Development for Social and Health Care Professionals.
Distance learning is a great way to study at an adult age. However, some may find it more difficult to learn on their own at home, because they lack in-person sense of belonging and support from their peers. Yet, encouraging students to participate online for example by dividing them into smaller discussion groups has increased the sense of belonging to a study group.
Fewer limits and more opportunities
There are many students who benefit from the opportunities offered by distance learning. For many, distance learning makes it possible to combine studying, working and other life.
– Distance learning enables me to deal with sudden events in everyday life, such as having to leave home for something but still being able to participate in the lessons via a smart device, says Jenni Tiitinen, one of the Savonia master’s degree health and welfare coordinator students who is satisfied with opportunities provided by distance learning.
In case of falling sick, it is also easier to organise studies. Distance learning allows students to participate in lectures without getting behind in their studies. Some students have even participated in their studies during the workday. Jenni continues:
– On the other hand, it is important to remember to organize breaks and take care of your own well-being and coping because it can easily be forgotten when the opportunity to study is present all the time.
So not being tied to physical locations and being able to spend more time with family are definitely advantages of distance learning. Another advantage is that the saved time can be used to improve one’s well-being. In addition, the financial savings from travel expenses is always appreciated by students, and by the environment.
Exhaustion but also a solution to life puzzle
There are also drawbacks to distance learning. A study conducted at the University of Helsinki on the effects of distance learning on the student highlights distance learning challenges with regard to exhaustion. The study found that distance learning does not feed the basic psychological needs of students and can therefore be part of exhaustion (Salmela-Aro & Peltonen, 2020). The study also emphasized how social skills protect remote students from exhaustion.
Many master’s degree students claim that they don´t need as much social and mental support as younger students. Master’s degree students have already their network and settled lives. Many have families and other responsibilities that are pacing their lives in general. Distant learning is more flexible and helpful with all that life puzzle and responsibilities. Master’s degree students most likely just want to complete the degree and go ahead with their careers.
Taking into account the above points, as well as our own experiences, we Savonia master’s degree health and welfare coordinator students believe that distance learning is a great way to study in adulthood, because it enables us to combine school, work and other life, but distance learning cannot be just the only way to learn.
Salmela-Aro, Katariina & Peltonen, Mari 2020. University of Helsinki. Online publication. Updated 20.12.2020. Available https://www.helsinki.fi/fi/uutiset/opetus/yliopisto-opiskelijoiden-hyvinvointi-jatkaa-laskua. Accessed 29.3.2022.
Students of Welfare and Health Coordinator Master’s Degree Programme at Savonia UAS
Sanna Savela, Senior Lecturer in Languages, Savonia UAS
Marja-Liisa Rissanen, Principal Lecturer, Master School, Savonia UAS