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What Is Distance Learning? And Why Is It So Important?

What Is Distance Learning? And Why Is It So Important? – Distance learning – any form of distance learning where the student is not physically present for the lesson – is booming because of the power of the Internet. With a wide variety of courses to choose from, flexible and affordable education options have increased. In fact, distance learning has many advantages over traditional learning models.

So keep reading to know more about distance education. Or go directly to our recommended distance learning tool.

As the Internet blurs the line between near and far, distance learning is set to disturb the current standard of education. With everything from AI-powered learning algorithms to simple message boards, there are more options than ever to learn everything you need to know.

While experienced teachers will continue to be an essential part of every student’s life, technology will bridge the physical gap between teachers and learners. Distance learning program is already part of the programs of many institutions, and it is set to become an even bigger part of the education sector.

What is distance education?

Distance learning describes any learning that takes place without students being physically present in the lesson. (However, it can also apply to the teacher in some situations.)

Historically, it described correspondence courses in which students would communicate with their schools or teachers by mail. Recently, distance learning has gone online to include a vast array of systems and methods on effectively any connected device.

Common types of distance learning

Although there are plenty of Correspondence learning (and teaching) options, there are a few types that are well supported by existing systems and established pedagogy.

  • Video conferencing is a common way for teachers to cooperate immediately with students in live lessons. This can be a one-on-one session or a classroom-like scenario in which multiple students engage with the teacher live.
  • Synchronous learning occurs when all students learn together at the same time (and often in one place), but the instructor is in another. It often consists of video or teleconferencing that connects teachers and learners digitally.
  • Asynchronous learning is a less connected, but also less constrained format. Instead of living online lessons, students are given learning tasks with deadlines. Then they do self-study to complete the assignments.
  • Open-schedule online courses add another layer of flexibility. It is a type of asynchronous course setup, except there is no time limit. This is perfect for learners with other requirements on their time, such as a professional or stay-at-home parent.
  • A fixed-time online course is a type of synchronous course that requires online users to visit a specific virtual location at a certain time and place (such as a webinar). Unlike more rigorous synchronous lessons, it allows students from anywhere in the world to connect and interact online.
  • Computer-based distance learning is fixed-time, contemporary lessons on a computer, usually a computer lab. This is most common in existing institutions that already have access to the necessary equipment.
  • Hybrid learning is a special type of blended learning where students are getting the same lesson in real-time (i.e. synchronous distance learning), but some students are physically present while others are learning remotely.

How is distance education different from regular education?

Distance education is definitely different from regular education in terms of the physical appearance of the student or teacher. But what does that mean, exactly?

For the most part, this translates into increased independence for both learners and teachers, but it also requires a higher level of discipline and planning to successfully complete the course of study.

The increased freedom of distance learning is most clearly seen in the fact that students can choose courses that best suit their schedules and resources. (Teachers can do the same.) And in the case of digital learning, students can also choose the location and teaching style to suit their needs.

However, the flip side of autonomy is the system that is needed to get the most out of the lessons. Students need self-motivation to really create the work, particularly in systems where they are not expected to be present at a particular time or place. Teachers also need to be better organized with contingencies if their students need additional explanation, especially if they are not teaching live and are able to “read the room”.

However, in some cases, distance learning is not only necessary but the best possible option. There are times when the advantages of distance learning actually stand a chance to shine.

Benefits of distance learning

Sure, live instruction is great. Face-to-face contact allows teachers and students to connect in a very authentic way, often resulting in strong rapport and understanding. While not impossible, this kind of connection still feels very easy in person. So why is distance education even a thing?

As it turns out, there are many benefits to learning remotely. Here are just a few.

Flexibility

The biggest advantage of distance education is its flexibility. Students can choose when, where and how they learn by choosing the time, place and medium of their education. For those who want immediate, live entrees to teachers, there are video conferencing options. But for students who are doing their training for a job or other responsibilities, a more relaxed schedule may work better. There are options to fit virtually anyone’s needs.

And thanks to the proliferation of online learning options, there is a curriculum structure on practically any subject a person wants to study.

Easy access

Whether due to remote location or having different disabilities, some students lack basic access to educational facilities. Distance learning programs provide each student with the opportunity to learn and improve themselves in the environment they find most effective.

Distance education also opens up new horizons of education in the context of international institutions. Major universities and trade schools around the world now offer accredited degrees, certificates and professional qualifications online to learners of all ages. 

Low Price

Especially thanks to the scalable nature of digital learning, distance learning is driving down the cost of education. Online degrees are becoming almost commonplace, and there are even accredited online-only universities that can eliminate expensive infrastructure and get straight into teaching.

What to look for in the distance education system

Whether you are a teacher or a student, there are positive stories that you should look for in a distance education system in order to make the most of it.

Ease of use

Simplicity is the key. Any system you adopt for teaching or learning must be user-friendly for everyone involved. This means a clear interface and a set of some essential features which include:

  • Digital Whiteboarding and Annotation
  • media creation and sharing
  • screen recording with audio
  • direct student-to-teacher communication
  • Multi-Device Compatibility

Accreditation

The reliability of a remote learning platform is really a combination of the instructor and the platform. For learners, it is important to note how well that platform’s credentials are recognized. Does it offer an accredited degree? A professional certificate? completion certificate? All these things should be kept in mind before enrolling.

And for teachers looking to adopt a distance education system, it’s important to know what kind of recognition that system can provide on your behalf or on behalf of your institution. For an academic degree or professional qualification, accreditation by external regulatory bodies is likely to be necessary.

Schedule

Since most distance education systems are designed to be fairly flexible in this regard, the course schedule has a lot to do with its content, not the system itself. Still, it is an important factor to consider when choosing a course.

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