What ıs Dıstance Educatıon?
Distance learning – any form of remote education where the student is not physically present for the lesson – is booming thanks to the power of the Internet. With a variety of course types to choose from, there is a rise in flexible and affordable education options. In fact, there are a number of advantages of learning remotely over even traditional teaching models.
As the Internet blurs the line between near and far, distance learning is set to disrupt the current paradigm of education. With everything from AI-driven teaching algorithms to simple message boards, there are more options than ever to learn whatever you need to know.
While skilled educators will continue to be an integral part of every student’s life, technology will bridge the physical spaces between teachers and learners. Distance learning is already part of many institutions’ programs, and it is set to become an even larger part of the education sector. But first…
What Is Distance Learning?
Distance learning describes any learning that happens without the students being physically present in the lesson. (However, this could also apply to the teacher in certain situations.)
Historically, this described correspondence courses in which students would communicate with their schools or teachers by mail. More recently, distance education has moved online to include a huge range of systems and methods on practically any connected device.
Common Types of Distance Learning
Though there are lots of learning (and teaching) options online, there are a few types that are well supported by existing systems and established pedagogies.
Video conferencing is a common way for teachers to interact directly with students in live lessons. This could be a one-on-one session or a class-like scenario in which multiple students connect to the teacher live.
Synchronous learning is when all the students learn together at the same time (and often even place) but the instructor is at another location. It often features video or teleconferencing that connects teachers and learners digitally.
Asynchronous learning is a less connected but also less constrained format. Instead of live online lessons, students are given learning tasks with deadlines. They then self-study to complete the assignments.
Open-schedule online courses add yet another layer of flexibility. It is a type of asynchronous course setup, except there aren’t any deadlines either. This is ideal for learners with other demands on their time, such as professionals or stay-at-home parents.
Fixed-time online courses are a type of synchronous course that requires online users to all visit a specific virtual location at a set time and place (e.g. a webinar). Unlike more rigid synchronous lessons, this does allow students from anywhere in the world to connect and interact online.
Computer-based distance education is a fixed-time, synchronous lesson on computers, usually a computer lab. This is most common in existing institutions that already have access to the necessary devices.
Hybrid learning is a specific type of blended learning where students are learning the same lesson in real-time (i.e. synchronous distance learning) but some of the students are physically present while others are learning remotely.