Distance learning refers to learning experiences where the teacher and student are not in the same location. Distance learning can take any of the following forms:
Distance education takes place when a teacher and student are separated by physical distance, and technology is used to bridge the instructional gap. These types of programs can provide adults with a second chance at a college education, reach those who do not have the time to attend formal classes or are impaired by a physical disability, and allow for workers to expand their knowledge in their places of employment.
Much controversy surrounds the question of whether or not those who participate in distance learning programs learn as much as students who receive traditional instruction. Research on the subject has concluded that teaching and learning from a distance can be as effective as traditional instruction when the method and technologies used are appropriate to the instructional tasks, there is student-to-student interaction, and when there is timely teacher-to-student feedback.
The primary role of the student is to learn. This requires motivation, planning, and an ability to analyze and apply the instructional content being taught on the part of the student. When instruction is delivered at a distance, additional challenges result because students are often separated from others sharing their backgrounds and interests, have few if any opportunities to interact with teachers outside of class, and must rely on technical linkages to bridge the gap separating class participants.
Research suggests distant students are usually successful in distance learning because they bring these various traits to the learning table:
There are certain factors that determine whether a student is going to be successful at learning in general regardless of whether the training comes in the form of distance learning or traditional classroom environmental learning. These factors include:
United States Distance Learning Association www.usdla.org
Distance Learning Resource Network www.wested.org/tie/dlrn
World Lecture Hall www.utexas.edu/world/lecture
Distance Education Clearinghouse www.uwex.edu/disted/home.html
Distance Learning University Links www-net.com/univ/list/distance.html