What is Distance Learning and How It Has Been Adopted by the World

Have you ever heard about distance learning and wonder what is and why this term has popped up so many times lately? While the concept may appear to be confusing at first, it is actually far for complex. Understanding more about what is distance learning may help you to determine if this type of education might be suitable for you – so do continue reading the following article to know further about this specific topic.

The Definition and Characteristics of Distance Learning

Distance learning goes by many other names. Some may mention it as online learning; others call it distance education, while several people name it as e-learning.

In the most basic distance learning definition, the term refers to an education form in which amongst its primary components is physical separation between the students and teachers, and utilization of various communications means to facilitate the learning process.

In order to understand more about what is distance education, it is necessary to know about its traits. There are four characteristics that makes this type of courses is unique:

  • By distance education definition, it is conducted through formal institutions, instead of non-academic learning settings or self-study.
  • Place, and possibly time, are inherent elements of this learning concept that separate teachers and students. This approach of education benefits a lot from convenience and accessibility.
  • The involved individuals are connected through interactive telecommunications. Email is arguably the most commonly used means of communications, but it’s also possible to use more conventional communication form such as physical mail.
  • Similar to other format of education, it also establishes learning community or learning group that consists of teacher, students, and learning resources such as books, images, audio, and video contents.

How the World Adopt Distance Learning

Distance education has settled itself as a substantial part of academic world and it is experiencing positive growth trend over the years. In the United States alone, the numbers of university students who enrolled into remote course had grown from 1.6 million to 5.6 million in the span of 2002 to 2009.

The amount of universities that offer this particular learning method is increasing as well. Taking once again an example in the United States, an Arizona-based school, University of Phoenix that was founded in 1976 and had become the most major private school globally has over 400,000 registered remote students by the first decade of this century. This institution is amongst the pioneers in adopting technology of online learning, in addition of the traditional face-to-face learners that spread on its dozens of campuses both inside and outside of the U.S.

Currently, it is hard to say the exact figure of how many enrolled students that committed to this specific education method globally. However, the number can be indicated by how heavily utilized this concept at two of the world’s largest public universities: the New Delhi-based Indira Gandhi National Open University that cater to 1.5 million remote students, and the Beijing-based China Central Radio and TV University with more than 500,000 remote students.

Online distance learning also recently has been started to be adopted by high schools and elementary schools across the world due to the coronavirus outbreak. The current global condition has forced nearly all campuses and school districts to adopt the method quickly and effectively.

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