Distance Learning Definition and Characteristics

Distance Learning Definition and Characteristics

We all deserve an education, that much has been settled by history. Unfortunately, not all of us have access to even the most basic of information, and children in third-world countries are still deprived of something those of us more fortunate take for granted. On the other hand, there are also those who cannot, for one reason or another, participate in school like most people. For those who can afford it however, and sometimes even for those who don’t, there is another possibility, and that is distance learning. In what follows we are going to try and give a distance learning definition and see what its characteristics are.

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That being said, an appropriate distance learning definition would be to say that it is the type of education offered to those who cannot be physically present in the classroom, or in the official setting of schooling. It is also called distance education, or D-learning, and it is meant to provide the right to education for those who are separated by space or time. There is also a hybridized type of distance learning, one where presence at the examinations is required; in this situation, the student or students can receive their courses online or by mail, but they have to be present physically for examinations, whether they are oral or written. Moreover, it is important to say that so far, distance education mainly refers to individual studies, though in recent times even entire classes of distance learning students have been formed.

As we try to give a distance learning definition, we are forced to look at this practice’s history as well; strange as it may sound, this type of education is not new at all, and in fact dates back to the 18th century, in 1728 America. The first such courses were offered by a teacher called Caleb Phillips, who advertised in newspapers that he would teach short hand by mail to those interested. As technology developed, there was an increased interest in distance learning, and since the Internet era, there was little to stop students and teachers to communicate across the world.

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Nowadays, there are also numerous government grants or charitable funding which provide education for those who can’t afford it, or for those who don’t yet have a school system in their area. With internet access, an entire classroom can be organized and receive live feeds from another country, where a volunteering teacher provides the students with the information and feedback they need. This form of distance education is much improved when compared to mailed courses, because the teacher can offer immediate input, they can correct and steer the students and answer their questions immediately, thus keeping a momentum and making sure everyone has understood the information.

When giving a distance learning definition, we should also say it is sometimes used by those who have already finished most of their studies and are working. For them, going to school every day is no longer an option, especially if they travel with work; nevertheless, they can complete their studies and get their degrees by following these online courses. Finally, distance education also has a history in television and radio; for a while there in the beginning, the radio was used to present classes, and students from all over the country could tune in and take notes. Although the practice is criticized by some and there are some faults to it, it still remains the only access to education some have; add to that the benefits of a globalized education and there is little anyone could say to stop this from happening.