What Is Distance Learning and Why Is It So Important

online distance learning


Distance learning is one of the most significant innovations in education. Students can now take advantage of many different learning opportunities without having to leave their homes.

Distance learning classes are taken through correspondence or online. Distance learners have access to class discussions, lectures, and online labs that are time coordinated with the instructor’s class schedule. All of these benefits offer convenience and flexibility for busy professionals pursuing a degree.

A few advantages of distance learning include:

You’re able to study at your own pace

You can study the materials available to the class

You don’t have to travel or commute to attend classes

You’ll save money on transportation, meals, and lodging

It’s a great option for students wanting to stay at home with their families

If you are working full-time or part-time, it is easier to study during your off-hours.

Difference between Distance Learning and Online Learning:

Distance learning and online learning are not the same things. Distance learners interact with the instructor and other students via technology such as email or videoconferencing, while traditional or online learners interact through course websites and message boards.

There can be some crossover, as online courses may be delivered partially or wholly through distance technologies. However, most of the time, distance learning is offered in a correspondence format while online learning takes place in a web-based environment.

Types of Distance Learning:

There are also different types of distance learning delivery methods. The most common are:

Traditional Correspondence: Printed course materials are sent to the student’s home and students complete their assignments and return them to the school.

Blended Learning: A combination of traditional correspondence courses with online activities and/or support.

Online Courses: These courses are hosted on a website and all instruction, communication, and assessment take place through the website.

Teleconference Classes: Students and the instructor participate in real-time interactive sessions using audio and video technology.

Web Conferencing: Similar to teleconference classes, but students and instructors view and work on materials together online.

Mixed Mode Instruction: A combination of any two or more of the above methods.

The growth of distance learning is due to its flexibility which caters to different types of students including working professionals and those with family commitments. According to the United States Department of Education, “The percentage of students taking all or part of their courses online has grown from about 1 percent in 2002 to about 30 percent in 2012.” The advantages offered by distance learning have made it one of the most forms of education available today.


Distance learning offers many benefits for those who are seeking a degree. As technology continues to grow, it has become one of the most popular and effective forms of education available today. Distance learners have access to class discussions, lectures, and online labs that are time coordinated with the instructor’s schedule, all without having to leave their homes.

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