What is Distance Learning?


Distance education is education designed for learners who live at a distance from the teaching institution or education provider. It is the enrollment and study with an educational institution that provides organized, formal learning opportunities for students. Presented in a sequential and logical order, the instruction is offered wholly or primarily by distance study, through virtually any media. Historically, its predominant medium of instruction has been printed materials, although non-print media is becoming more and more popular. It may also incorporate or make use of videotapes, CD or DVD ROM’s, audio recordings, facsimiles, telephone communications, and the Internet through e-mail and Web-based delivery systems. When each lesson or segment is completed, the student makes available to the school the assigned work for correction, grading, comment, and subject matter guidance by qualified instructors. Corrected assignments are returned to the student. This exchange fosters a personalized student-instructor relationship, which is the hallmark of distance education instruction. Historically, most distance education courses were vocational in nature, but today courses are offered for academic, professional, and avocational purposes for students of all ages. There are numerous specialized programs, such as those for blind persons and for parents of small children with hearing impairments. Distance education is available in practically any field, from accounting to zoology. Courses are offered in gemology, high school diploma, journalism, locksmithing, child day care management, yacht design, and many fascinating subjects. Distance education courses also vary greatly in scope, level, and length. Some have a few assignments and require only a few months to complete, while others have a hundred or more lesson assignments requiring three or four years of conscientious study. Distance education is especially suited for busy people who wish to increase their knowledge and skills without giving up their jobs, leaving home, or losing income. You learn while you earn. Many courses provide complete vocational training; others prepare you for upgrading in your present job, without losing wages, experience or seniority. You receive individual attention, and you work at your own pace. In recent years, technology has played a significant role in transforming the traditional distance education school into a dynamic, interactive distance learning method using toll-free telephone lines, as well as a diverse array of personal computers, video devices, CD and DVD ROMs, online courses over the Internet, interactive devices, and other modern technological innovations. The future for distance study promises to be exciting!
Distance learning:

  • allows for increased accessibility to timely and relevant information
  • provides a platform for students to actively interact with the information by not limiting discussion to a set time and place
  • encourages more thoughtful formal discussions and informal communication between students and with the instructor
  • provides and encourages the use of web-based information sources to retrieve timely information in rapidly changing fields of study

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