Distance Learning Defined

From Afar

The concept of distant learning takes on many different forms and has been around for about as long as the postal service. Distant learning is when a student wants to learn from a teacher further away than they can travel conveniently. Years ago this would have been written correspondences between student and teacher. The teacher would write out things to learn and a set of instructions for the student to send back. The teaching could be something as simple as employees learn how to operate a piece of equipment or as complex as a new language or a fine craft. As technology progressed other means became available such as over the television or CD programs. In many instances with the CD programs the student was left alone to learn. The internet brought about some major change in how people learn. The better the technology for the internet became, the better and broader the distance learning experience has become.

The Internet and Online

When asking what is distance learning today, it would turn to the many online learning experiences available by computer and the internet. Adult education and college level courses were the first to emerge, allowing busy parents and employed adults to further their education and learn more for their jobs. Online colleges such as the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University emerged as two of the largest in the distance learning category, however, many traditional colleges and universities have been offering more and more courses online. The traditional colleges and universities have especially been offering an expanding amount of courses as technology has progressed. This allows for students to take some courses online while still attend necessary classes at school, or in the case of the summers they can head home and work while taking summer classes. For busy parents and career men and women, distance learning has been vital in continuing their education in their chosen field or another field altogether, making the possibility of continuing to support their families and work at their jobs attainable as they study to earn a new or continuing degree.

Not Just Higher Education

Technology has been the greatest factor in the growing world of online distance learning. The growing speeds of the internet and the ease of providing computers to students has allowed even primary and secondary schooling to travel online for classes. There has always been the option of home schooling prior to the age of the internet, but for most it was not much of an option due to how time consuming the process was. There was the ordering of supplies in enough time for the school year to start, and then having to teach the child what was on the curriculum. The role of the parent was one of teacher, principal and extra-curricular teacher all in one, and the time and money was truly an investment in their child that was overwhelming and not as feasible for many. The parent also had to make sure they reported their child’s progress to the state and local school board in a timely fashion. It made it difficult for many parents to devote the proper time to their child. The internet has provided away for the student to get their work quickly and allows them to communicate directly with a teacher. Today parents can choose to have their child study at home for a variety of reasons, and still have the support and input of professional educators in the curriculum and guidance of their student, bringing peace of mind and further opportunities for both the student and the parent. Most of the online academies provide a computer to a student thus with supervision a child can have the most of a public education while working online. This is especially helpful for those parents who travel a lot for their work, as their child can come along without missing a step and continue with their school work, and still have the benefit of the adventures and excitement of travel and learning things that those in a classroom would be without. The ability to interact with the teacher online and their parent in the same room is something that really works well for a lot of children, and it’s been a growing climate in the past several years especially. Public schools are now noted for providing an online opportunity for their students as well, making it more cost effective and accessible to those whom before would not have had the chance.


Distance learning is a viable option for lots of people of any age. The ability to learn something new, whether it’s for a degree or job or just for fun, is an exciting opportunity and one that’s now readily available for anyone. Check out a class near – or far from – you today.