What Is Distance Online Learning

If you haven’t been doing online learning lately, you haven’t been paying attention. Schools across the country are using online courses and connecting students with their teachers in new ways.

With growing interest in learning on digital platforms such as electronic textbooks, MOOCs (massive open online courses), and other learning platforms — and with universities converting from bricks-and-mortar operations to smart course models where students don’t have to buy textbooks or fees for courses — distance learning is becoming more important than ever. The term “distance learning” was coined to reflect this trend with universities offering courses online that might otherwise be lost in sight. But because they are geared towards a mostly online audience, many distance learning programs may be overlooking some basic student-centered features.

What Is Distance Learning?

Distance learning refers to a type of education that could be delivered by anyone who has the ability to take an online course. Those who choose to take courses online may also use other forms of technology, such as laptop computers or smart phones, to learn. Therefore, distance learning takes place at one or more different locations — whether they are from a main campus, a faculty member or advisor’s home, a community college or home, or some other other public resource.

Distance learning is the delivery of educational resources in a class or a course.

“If a professor or other official is teaching a course online,” explain experts at Distance Learning Center, “he can take advantage of his technology to develop a complete online version of a course.” These often include online lectures, test preparation, viewing textbooks, reading assignments and other assignments, and peer discussion. This includes courses that are not a combination of lectures and tests, but a unique combination that brings together learning, online viewing, test preparation, peer discussions, and other features.

Course offerings may be made by way of blogs, text-only or interactive podcasts, Twitter posts, YouTube videos, and other digital content.

Course Services

Some courses feature one or more individualized services in addition to lectures, tests, and online readings. These may include program webinars, live webinars, research kits, study guides, and instructor assistance with assignments and assignments.

Choices in Distance Learning Options

Students can choose from a variety of options. For instance, an elementary or secondary school may offer online resources; colleges may offer online courses or services to students studying for their degree; universities may also offer courses to individuals who are studying for certification or additional course work. Just as students can choose between traditional offerings and online ones, they can also choose the most suitable distance learning program for them. Some institutions offer options, such as discounted tuition, and/or live, interactive online classroom sessions.

Instructor Choices

Teachers may also be given the flexibility to choose a distance learning arrangement, such as an online teaching stint or a facilitated, learning session at a college campus. Many students will have to decide between having online learning for online purposes, or to directly contact a principal or campus staff member on campus to discuss their homework assignments or events. Other students may be able to take advantage of free online resources for their first several credits, such as previous answers for exams and review materials for past classroom discussions.

Resources and Options for Online Learning

It is extremely important that students and instructors make the right choice in their distance learning courses, because according to the Distance Learning Center, “in order to increase test-score performance, students and teachers should select online courses in which each student is expected to take at least one MOOC-like course per term.” Student retention levels may also suffer when students are unable to make it to campus in person for hours and hours of face-to-face instruction. Students should also consider how long it takes for them to make progress in their chosen online course and how helpful the online resources are.


There are many types of online courses for educators, students, and the student body. As with any type of education, choosing the right program can affect success and quality. So, evaluate the specific needs and interests of the student — and other students who may choose to take this type of learning — and develop a customized and tailored program that will meet those needs. This type of education is free, so it should not be a turn-off to students in their 20s who are seeking an education that can help them succeed in the real world. Even if students may have access to more traditional educational institutions, there are many other online tools and resources available, such as the Distance Learning Center.

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