Defining Distance Learning

For me, the term for Distance Learning is a form of instructional delivery that connects a learner with multiple educational resources that provides the learner with educational and learning opportunities that incorporates current and emerging technologies.  The fast pace of technological advances that are being marketed is changing and challenging the way our educational system is and will be. Educational institutions develop distance education programs that provide adults with a second chance at a college education, reach those disadvantaged by limited time, distance or physical disability, and update the knowledge base of workers at their places of employment. Whether the delivery of distance education involves audio conferencing, video, computer assisted instruction for tracking purposes, or print, it has become a vital part of the higher education assembly because it reaches a broader student audience.

In our reading material, Desmond Keegan (1996), defined the five elements of distance learning that included: separation of teacher and learner, planning and preparation of learning materials, use of technical media, two-way communication for students benefit, and absence of the learning group throughout the learning process.  Yet some critics argue that Keegan’s definition did not offer a valid outlook of current and practical purposes of online distance education.

Distance education is a positive alternative for some states to offer schools via the No Child Left Behind Act that allows better options to students attending those schools that do not progress successfully during the school year, (Moller, Foshay, Huett, 2008). Two issues that reasoned the need for distance education were teacher shortages and overcrowded schools, that would permit qualified teachers to teach students where instructor shortages outweigh increased populations, (Moller, Foshay, Huett, 2008).

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70–75.


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