What is distance learning? The distance learning definition may seem confusing at first, but it’s quite simple, and it may even be the right kind of education for you. Let’s learn more about distance education, how it’s different from online learning, and if it’s the ideal fit for you.
What Is Distance Learning?
Merriam Webster defines distance learning as, “a method of study where teachers and students do not meet in a classroom but use the Internet, e-mail, mail, etc., to have classes.”
Simply put, distance learning is when students are separated from teachers and peers. This means that students learn remotely and do not have face-to-face learning with instructors or other students.
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What’s The Difference Between Online Learning And Distance Learning?
Online learning can include the use of online tools and platforms while still being in a regular classroom setting. Distance learning, however, is remote and does not include any face-to-face interaction between student and teacher.
Online learning, as seen above, can include interaction with teachers and peers, whereas distance learning does not have in-person interactions.
Online learning can be used as a supplement for teachers in their courses, while distance learning replaces teachers with instruction that is pre-set on the learning platform.
What Is Online Learning?
Online learning is when teachers or students use educational tools which are accessible on the internet.
This means that students can also use online tools while they are physically in a classroom with their teacher and peers. Online learning can be used anywhere and anytime, so teachers may have students using them as tools in class or for preparation and assignments at home.
Online learning tools are often used to create blended learning environments in the classroom. This helps keep students engaged in the class and in the material.
Online learning also helps teachers save preparation time before class. With the help of online educational tools, teachers can spend more time grading papers, giving one-on-one attention to students, and maybe even getting some free time for themselves in their busy work schedule.
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What Is Distance Education?
Distance learning does not include any in-person interaction with an instructor or study peers. Students study at home on their own, and the learning is more individual and varies on speed and timeline according to each individual student and their availability.
Distance learning actually relies on the educational tools of online learning, and that is probably why there is some confusion between the two. It is possible to study with online distance learning as well. In that sense, distance learning is a subset of online learning.
Because distance education is remote, it can connect students to universities worldwide, making it more accessible for students in different countries. It is also known to be more affordable, which is another factor that helps make education more accessible to many students around the world and in different socio-economic levels.
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The Benefits Of Distance Learning
As mentioned above, students can study from universities around the world, even if they are not able to travel to their preferred program. This allows top universities to be available to students who would not otherwise be able to attend due to distance, finances, or other circumstances.
Distance learning is extremely important for those who cannot attend programs due to health complications, severe social anxiety, busy work schedules or parenting demands, or any other situations which make it necessary to be confined to the home.
Online programs, such as University of the People, cater to students who prefer or need distance education. UoPeople is a tuition-free nonprofit institution, making it an affordable and sustainable option for students worldwide. In addition to being affordable, University of the People employs academic leadership from renowned universities around the world, allowing equal opportunity for students to access quality education.
UoPeople provides distance education for students who may have physical or health restrictions, those who live in remote areas, or those who cannot otherwise attend school due to late work hours or raising a family. This provides an equal opportunity for people to access higher education despite restrictions or location.
Types Of Distance Learning
1. Online courses
Online courses are usually offered as additional classes in traditional degrees. As long as students have computer and internet access, they can learn and receive instruction at home.
2. Hybrid courses
Hybrid courses combine traditional classroom settings with online learning at home. This can mean that students learn individually at home and meet up for in-person instructions or lectures at certain intervals during the course. The amount of at-home learning and in-class learning varies for each hybrid course.
3. Conference classes
Conferencing allows students and teachers to meet up for class in real time, whether in a group or one-on-one with an instructor. Using the phone or video chatting, such as Skype, students and teachers can engage in live lessons despite distance.
4. Correspondence courses
Correspondence courses consist of students engaging in class material via mail or email. Students receive material and assignments through mail, and they send completed assignments back through the same method.
What Works Best For You?
Now that you have a rundown of the distance learning definition, and the different kinds that are available, you can decide whether it’s a right fit for you and your life. Many students find distance learning to be a fulfilling and practical way to receive quality education, without needing to attend a traditional university.
Whether you’re looking for a program that will allow you to work or raise a family, or whether you might have a condition that keeps you at home most of the time, distance learning can be a great way to learn valuable knowledge and tools for your future.