Student-Led or Teacher-Led Education

Principal, John Mason, was once at a conference and was told that education was basically teacher-led.  However, there has been a growth in the importance of student-led education in the last couple of years in particular. This led to some discussion on whether ACS Distance Education was teacher-led or student-led.


Before we discuss this further, let’s look at teacher-led and student-led education in a bit more detail.


What is teacher-led education?

Teacher-led education is really what we would consider “traditional” education –

  • Traditional educational methods
  • Lectures or the teacher standing at the front talking
  • Student sitting and passively absorbing information (hopefully)

The benefits of teacher-led education

  • The benefits of student-led education is unclear
  • The teacher-led education provides a clear structure of learning
  • Research by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) found that there tend to be higher results when education is teacher-led.
  • In teacher-led education, a teacher can explain different issues or ideas in a number of different ways, using different scenarios. A student may not come across these in their research as they may not know different ideas exist.

What is student-led education?

  • Using up to date learning methods
  • More active work from the students, such as group work, research, projects etc.
  • The student controls their own learning
  • The student is self-aware
  • The Benefits of Student-Led Learning
  • Student-led learning is very popular today.
  • Students are encouraged to do their own research. For example, conducting research online, carrying out market research, doing questionnaires etc.
  • It allows students to be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Teachers can facilitate this awareness by encouraging students to ask questions, giving feedback etc.
  • By conducting their own research, students can also develop their soft skills, such as punctuality, good communication, problem solving etc. Soft skills are important, and transferable into many different careers.
  • Student-led learning helps the student to learn how to learn. They develop the skills they need to be independent learners in the future.

Some argue that student-led education motivates the student to achieve their own personal goals and actually empowers them. Others argue that student-led learning can actually hinder, or prevent, knowledge.


Is ACS Distance Education teacher-led or student-led?

Well….This is not so easy to answer.

To give you context, we were established in 1979 solely as a distance learning education provider. We do not teach in classrooms and never have done. 

We do not stand at the front of a classroom and lecture to our students.

However, there are aspects of ACS’s education that are teacher-led.


ACS DE is teacher-led because

  • We provide a structure to the learning the student receives. In our courses, students move from lesson 1 to 2 to 3. Students are encouraged not to skip lessons or jump from one to another. We encourage students to build on the knowledge from one lesson to the next. To pass a course, they have to complete all lessons in our courses.
  • Students are encouraged to ask questions. All of our tutors are experts in their subjects. We encourage students to ask! That is what our tutors are there for.
  • Our courses are written by industry experts. They are teachers and writers, who are highly experienced in their subjects, and in distance learning and online learning.  Our courses are not written by one individual, they are written by a group of writers, working in collaboration. This ensures that the student gets the benefit of the knowledge of a range of different writers. They can share different scenarios, different experiences and provide an overall package of learning to the students.

ACS is student-led because –

  • All of our courses are self-paced. The student works at their own pace at a time and location to suit them. We only offer online and distance learning courses, so students can study anywhere.
  • This means that the student is also in control of their own learning. They study what they want to. They start when they want to. They work at their own pace. They study where they want to.
  • The student is encouraged to ask questions, as we talked about a moment ago.
  • Students are encouraged to do their own research to improve and expand their knowledge of the subject they are studying.
  • Tutors give feedback to the student on how to improve their performance. As we just mentioned, a student works from lesson 1 to 2 to 3. In each lesson, the student is required to complete tasks and assignments that build their knowledge and skills in the areas. The tutor provides feedback, so that they can see what they do well and build upon that. The tutors also tells the student where they could improve.
  • As well as developing their skills and knowledge in the topic the student is studying, the student is also developing soft skills, such as time keeping, self-discipline, problem solving, research skills etc. All great transferrable skills that will benefit them in the future.

So, ACS DE is both teacher-led and student-led. Student-led education has become increasingly popular in the last few years, but we have been offering student-led education for over 40 years now, and plan to continue to do so.


But we also recognise the relationship between student and teacher.


We develop our courses to encourage students to learn in a structured way, whilst also controlling and developing their own learning. We encourage student autonomy.


This is why our students come out of the courses with –

  • Improved skills and knowledge in their chosen subject
  • Soft skills to carry them forward into the future

We are distance learning and online learning experts. We do not do face to face teaching. All of our courses are developed to be studied by the student in their own home.


If you are an education provider, an individual or a business who is looking to expand by offering high quality courses, then look no further!


We have over 700 courses!


We have courses in a wide range of topics – horticulture, agriculture, zoology, permaculture, aquaponics, creative writing and much more.


We have over 150 eBooks!


We are looking for individuals and businesses who would like to offer our courses.


If this sounds like you, please get in touch with us here and find out more

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What our partners say

We've been working with ACS over the course of the last three years. Being able to mix and match content to suit our students' needs has been extremely useful. With their material in combination with our own in house tutor service we have been able to provide a complete online learning service which has helped us expand our student cohort and advance our teaching techniques! We are thankful that we have had them as a partner throughout our time in the industry and look forward to many more years of growth together.

Jason T - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

ACS Distance Education have been fantastic to work with over our first 12 months as a start-up online short education affiliate.
They provided immense support in the foundation period ensuring we setup the best support mechanisms for students and engaging quality tutors.
ACS have continued to be receptive to feedback and promptly moved to make improvements wherever required.

David C - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Having access to ACS' extensive library of digitalised education content has allowed us to scale our business quickly and efficiently. Their LMS is easy to access and manage, whilst also providing the consumer (student) with a professional and easy to use experience. John and Kate have always been a pleasure to work with and are quick to provide support when it is required."

Andrew O - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

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