Learning 9 MIN READ

What is Distance Learning? Definitions, Examples & More

With the rising trend of e-learning, a question that arises is how it started and what the future of this field is. Distance Learning began with lessons via postcards. Only in the 1840s, Issac Pitman provided his students with correspondence courses.

Since then, distance learning, along with new information technology, was adopted by universities who wanted to extend their market beyond their immediate areas around their location. The University of London for example wanted to offer lower higher education costs to financially weaker students.

Now online courses are more and more pursued by people who are curious and want to broaden their knowledge or are seeking specific knowledge and workplace skills. Some people take online courses to supplement their traditional classroom courses and pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In this article, we will dive more into types of distance learning, its benefits, and how online schools or individual instructors can achieve a successful distance learning program:

Distance learning is the kind of education that is conducted beyond physical space and time and is aided by technology. Online educational tools allow students and instructors to interact synchronously or asynchronously and give endless training opportunities with distance learning courses or hybrid courses.

How distance learning works

Online courses are delivered with the use of a Learning Management System or LMS. With LearnWorlds’ learning platform, for example, online students can complete most coursework, including exams, directly online.

Experiences in a well-trusted LMS may include study guides and self-paced assignments, video lectures, audio recordings, videoconferencing, interactive learning objects, and live chat with fellow students or asynchronous discussions.

Finally, in an LMS, a learning group (community) is established, composed of students-teachers interactions and instructional resources. The exciting thing here is that despite the popularity of Facebook, YouTube, or other Social Media groups, online communities of like-minded persons in LMSs are still lively and engaging.

So, these are the things offered within a modern LMS.

Diagram showing what an LMS can offer

You can start trying out a distance learning tool (LMS) today and see the benefits for your learners:

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How do distance learning programs work?

One of the major distance learning programs advantages is the fact that learners can connect any time into an e-learning environment and learn at their own pace. Most e-learning programs are asynchronous. However, they often include synchronous tools that allow learners to interact face-to-face and collaborate at scheduled times. Because most e-learning environments are generally self-paced, students must be very committed to study by themselves and manage their time effectively. Shared social spaces in the form of blogs and collaboratively edited documents are also used in educational settings.

What are the advantages of distance learning?

Ιn an online environment asynchronously, which means the information can be accessed when it is most convenient for the learner. This is a huge advantage for people who want to participate remotely in programs they wouldn’t be able to attend otherwise. Distance learning is seamlessly cost and time-saving and therefore allows participants to combine work, family, and studies.

Other benefits of distance learning include:

What are the types of distance learning

There are two main types of distance learning:

Distance learning provides educational opportunities aimed towards professional development, personal development, and also satisfies an individual’s thirst for knowledge. Now, individuals can pursue their dreams or enjoy learning a subject they love.

For example, finding a niche and the job of your dreams is challenging. New online educational programs are now available (some even free) to offer professional qualification. With distance learning, hundreds of students now earn an AA Degree or Certificate, by entirely participating in online courses. Coastline college, for example, offers over 70 online degrees and certificate programs that you can take fully online.

Students participate in online courses for several reasons. According to the Best Colleges 2019 online trends Report, here are some distance learning student categories:

Distance learning mainly refers to online academic programs, offered for pre-qualified students who pay tuition fees and courses for students who can’t afford to pay for college. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), for example, are courses offered for free and provide education and training to large numbers of people deriving from various economic backgrounds.

On the other hand, online training refers to educational programs tailored to particular target groups. For example, industries now invest more and more in personnel training. The training aims to develop specific skills so that people can achieve in a particular field. This is why training is usually conducted by companies to train their employees or their customers.

As long as distance learning offers the same quality as traditional education does, it will continue to be embraced by learners. And studies show that it does. One more reason for students to go online is that the web has forever changed the way we interact and find information. Online learning is accessible and flexible, and this is what makes it so appealing.

According to a recent study conducted by the Sloan Consortium, the national data of college and university enrollments are declining in the latest years. Therefore, the rate of students pursuing online education is significant for the educational landscape.

Universities benefit from adding students worldwide. MOOCs that are provided for financial aid are now characterized by huge enrollments in microlearning- the use of short videotaped lectures and peer assessments. Students can access course materials where and when they choose. Using a state-of-the-art online learning platform instructors can make their academy the must-go learning destination.

LSE Cities

Broward College

Screenshot from Broward College

Houston Community College

Screenshot from Houston Community College

Rio Salado College

Screenshot from Rio Salado College

Valencia College

Screenshot from Valencia College

Central Piedmont Community College

St. Petersburg College

Screenshot from St. Petersburg College

Portland Community College

Austin Community College District

College of Southern Nevada

Northern Virginia Community College

Mercy College of Ohio

Screenshot from Mercy College of Ohio

Coastline College

Screenshot from Coastline College

Each college uses a different website to host their courses. With the plethora of online learning platforms and learning management systems – LMSs, out there, today, it’s easy to create neat learning experiences.

Create a beautiful online school without any technical skills.

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Choosing a remote training platform is easy as long as you know what you are looking for in terms of features and have a rough idea of what learning experience you want to provide to learners. With LearnWorlds, within just a few clicks, you’ll get your school website with powerful features:

But, before you start, you will need an account. LearnWorlds comes with a 30-day trial, so it is worth trying out. The platform offers more than any LMS platform can provide, providing you with the possibility to create unique interactive learning experiences.

Backed up with the ability to create online courses, LearnWorlds allows you to add any learning activity you want in your training course. These activities include text, quizzes, assignments, Certificates, PDFs, live webinars, audio recordings, interactive video, HTML5, and every embeddable content.

A range of learning activities you can choose from when creating training courses.

LearnWorlds is a self-paced learning environment and can work excellently either for synchronous communication with learners or asynchronous.

A view on the live webinar inside a LearnWorlds school using Zoom

An instructor can decide on the navigation settings in their courses, choosing, for example, whether they want students to take a linear path in the units or free navigation within the units.

The platform also offers a powerful gradebook. With it, you can have an overview of your employees’ performance and check who has completed the training or not, what grades they got, and which answers they gave to each question.

A view on the gradebook inside a LearnWorlds school.

Community learning is vital for every online educational program. Making students feel that they are part of a learning community where they can communicate, provides more learning opportunities. That’s why in LearnWorlds, you can find a built-in social network page where you can empower your strong community and allow learners to be bonded and actively involved in the school.

Screenshot of LearnWorlds community

With LearnWorlds, you can also change the most important settings in your school. Having your own online academy needs tools and options that can give you absolute control:

You can learn more about these in our step-by-step guide on how to start an online school. Finally, with LearnWorlds, you can send automated emails to your learners whenever certain events take place in your academy (for example, registration emails, enrollment emails, subscription emails, learners notifications, admin settings, email signature).

These and many other features make up the LearnWorlds platform. For a closer look at what the platform offers, go through our list of features.

Create a beautiful online school without any technical skills.

Start free trial

With the rising advances in information technology, online education is undoubtedly here to stay. Online courses have proven that they can deliver educational information effectively and inexpensively, so it’s a cut-out solution for universities, colleges, and other training agents.

Online learning programs are becoming increasingly more popular, and the trend is only growing.

Starting an online academy is not as difficult as it once was. First off, start building a website that will host your online school.

LearnWorlds offers a one-stop solution to building an educational website, your online courses and delivering a great experience to your learning community.

If you are looking to launch an online education program, we are here to help you!

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Course Designer & Content Creator at LearnWorlds

Anthea is a Course designer and Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team. She holds years of experience in instructional design and teaching. With a Master of Education (M.Ed.) focused in Modern Teaching Methods & ICT (Information & Communications Technology), she supplements her knowledge with practical experience in E-Learning and Educational Technology.