Wikipedia defines distance education as the mode of delivering education and instruction, often on an individual basis, to students who are not physically present in a traditional setting such as a classroom. Distance learning provides “access to learning when the source of information and the learners are separated by time and distance, or both.” A number of other terms (distributed learning, e-learning, online learning, etc.) are used roughly synonymously with distance education. However distance is the oldest and mostly commonly used term globally.
As the term itself suggests, distance learning is the mode and style of education or learning that takes place outside of the traditional classroom. In an informal setting, mostly in the learner’s own workplace or residence, the students complete all their reading, assignments, study and submit their work at a distance to the related school. Thus distance learning is the way of learning in which no face to face contact with the teacher is there and the student or the learner don’t have to be present in any formal classroom, in a school or a college. University study is not designed to monopolize the time and place of the students but in distance mode of learning it is recognized that the learners have jobs, families, social lives, other commitments, that is why in this mode education is accessible for anyone, anytime, anywhere. Distance education aims to deliver a quality university education to the students who are not able to present in the university.
Distance education has been in existence for centuries, believe it or not, since the mid-1800s. The first distance education course in the modern sense was provided by Sir Isaac Pitman (the father of distance education) in the 1840s, who taught a system of shorthand by mailing texts transcribed into shorthand on postcards and receiving transcriptions from his students in return for correction. Before the computer era, distance education were in the form of correspondence, requiring learners to read study materials, complete assignments and tests, submit assignments and tests through post, and then waiting fot their results for months. Today’s distance learning options are mostly through the Internet, making them much more flexible, convenient, and timely options for anyone, anytime, anywhere. Besides the Internet option, distance learning courses pass knowledge through other forms of communications technology, such as interactive video.
WHY DISTANCE EDUCATION?
Distance and E-Learning, unlike traditional classroom study, can offer some tempting advantages. One of the most important is flexibility and low cost. Flexibility is important if you have a job (and you want to keep it), so you don’t have to worry about fitting your classes around your job schedule. Many of the expenses associated with maintaining facilities on a college campus do not apply to a distance learning program and therefore it is low cost. Mostly the fee for the same course through distance education is less than the half as compared to regular programs of university.
Distance and E Learning programs are beneficial not for the learners but also for the employers where these learners work and ultimately for the whole society. Places of business don’t have to lose their workers for hours, weeks, or months in order to let them gain needed skills; and employees won’t lose pay from missed work or pay extra for travel and other associated expenses.
Online education is ideal for students who are physical challenged, shy students, language challenged students. Distance education offers Self-paced learning and thus is fit for both slow and quick learners. This reduces stress and increases satisfaction. Distance learning programs never close on weekends or for vacation, which means more freedom to handle coursework. A distance learning program features virtually unlimited access to knowledge, morning or night, seven days a week. You can study wherever you have access to a computer and Internet connection.
Versatile time management also means deciding how long to study and how often. Study time divides into different portions rather than fixed hours or days. While pursuing the education of your choice, you don’t have to live in the same city or the same country to attend campus classes. So the biggest advantage of distance learning is stay anywhere, study from anywhere, that too on low cost and with flexible timing.
Distance and online learning does have its limitations too, here are a few
1 .For the students who are accustomed to learning through contextual discussion it may be difficult to grasp or understand some basic and important ideas.
2. Although distance learning courses gets credit at most places but some employers may not acknowledge the degree got through distance education courses.
3. Most of us have become accustomed to receiving direction and instruction from a human, our parents are our very first teachers, and that is how we learn. In distance learning some students find it difficult to relate to an online tutor and they miss and need that human touch.
4. In the traditional classroom all of our learning is done by using examples to help us understand the context of what we are learning. In distance learning there are fewer examples or explanations past the initial concept or theory and we have to find that contextual understanding by ourselves.
5. Limited connection between course material and its explanation. This is in contrast to the traditional classroom where students follow the written material and are guided by the human interaction of the teacher.
Experts of education field, teachers and academics are united in one voice that distance learning is an effective and efficient way for students of all ages and at all levels to learn. It has a number of advantages that allow it to be cheap and universally accessible to almost everyone who can access the Internet. But they also recognize that in comparison to the traditional classroom, and in order to overcome them they are first working to identify them. Although distance learning have some limitations but none of these limitations are insurmountable by a student who is anxious and eager to learn. The Department of Education in United States reported in 2011 that about 20 percent of all students enrolled in post-secondary schools take at least one distance learning course which was only about 8 percent in 2001. This shows that due to its flexible study options, and freedom of study from home, work, or anywhere in the world, at a time that suits the learner, distance education and E-learning is offering a good alternative to the traditional classroom education.[wpv-post-taxonomy type=”post_tag” separator=”, ” format=”link” show=”name” order=”asc”]