What is Distance Learning?

Distance learning is an educational process where students receive instruction through online classes, video recordings, video conferencing, or any other audio/visual technology medium. It enables people to receive education without having to be physically present in a classroom.

Properly designed distance learning programs can be a very convenient and effective way to acquire more education. This may seem difficult without students and teachers interacting in a classroom, but people enrolled in distance learning programs can learn just as much away from a classroom as in one.

Distance learning and education are interchangeable terms. Distance learning is not a recent phenomenon. The origins of distance learning can be traced back to the advent of the modern postal system and the mass production of printed publications, which made it possible to spread information rapidly throughout the world.

Why Distance Learning?

Distance learning has made education more accessible to larger groups of people. It is a convenient way to obtain work experience while completing college or other vocational training. Many organizations, such as the military, large corporations, and government agencies rely on distance education to train service members and employees. Education has also changed as communication technology has revolutionized society.

In most cases, education or specialized training is a requirement for most high paid jobs. The availability of the Internet has increased the number of online courses. These courses are offered at online colleges, such as Argosy University, University of Phoenix, Capella University, and Kaplan University.

Who Uses Distance Learning?

More students today are taking advantage of distance learning programs. Working professionals, high school students, and even traditional college students enroll in distance learning classes. Companies and other organizations frequently utilize distance learning programs to train employees. The following are some of the reasons people enroll in distance learning programs:

  • Students living in rural areas or those unable to attend traditional classes utilize distance learning
  • Students from all over the world can enroll in online courses offered at specific colleges
  • Companies utilize distance learning programs to train employees, especially those working in distance regions

Distance learning is very flexible.

Although distance learning can fit into anyone's schedule, students must take the initiative to study and complete their course work. Distance learning programs are not easy or automatic, so lazy students will probably not successfully complete courses they enroll in. However, even students that are busy or have numerous responsibilities should find the time to study because of the flexibility of these programs.

What technology is used for online distance learning?

Many different types of technology are utilized to enhance online learning. Special computer programs, high speed Internet, and webcam broadcasting technology are just a few of the modern technologies utilized in distance learning. As a result, learning opportunities that never existed for people living in distance or rural areas can obtain a college education or specialized job training. It's not uncommon for a student living in a rural region of South Dakota to complete a course offered by a college in California.

Students often interact with teachers using video conferencing, satellite, and Internet technology. They can also communicate with other students enrolled in the same course using modern telecommunications technology.

Since students can complete courses wherever the Internet is accessible, many often take time during a work break or while staying in a hotel during a business trip to complete their school work. The flexibility of distance learning is one of the main appeals of these programs.

What is the experience like for online distance learners?

Since distance learning is slowly becoming a popular way to complete college or job training, many people still have reservations about it. The details provided below will give those considering distance learning an idea of what it's like:

  • Students usually interact with classmates and teachers in chat rooms and other instant messaging services. This makes it possible to ask questions and share comments without sitting in a classroom. Teacher lectures are frequently broadcast online, and many students and teachers stay in touch via conference calling technology.
  • Group work is completed in chat rooms and special rooms on websites. Students also use e-mail, instant messaging, and web broadcasting technology to discuss project ideas with classmates.
  • Course assignments completed by students are competed on a website or submitted as e-mail attachments. Students are usually not permitted to submit work completed on websites after due dates.
  • Most reference materials, such as documents and books, are accessible online for students. As a result, students usually do not have to visit libraries to complete traditional research. Many of the books students need are scanned and placed online.
  • Questions for instructors can be asked over the phone, through an e-mail, or in a chat room. Instant messaging technology is becoming a very popular way for students and teachers to interact.

Working professionals, stay at home moms, and other people unable to attend college on a campus are utilizing distance learning programs to acquire more education or job training.

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