eLearning Strategies

Distance Learning: What It Is and Why It’s Important

10 min
Man with laptop view from above

With the rising trend and increasing popularity of e-learning, especially after the emergence of a global pandemic, a question that arises is how it all started out.

As research shows, distance learning began with lessons via postcards, and in the 1840s, Issac Pitman was the first to provide students with correspondence courses.

Since then, distance learning – along with new information technology, has been adopted by universities that wanted to extend their market beyond their immediate areas around their location. An example was The University of London, which wanted to offer lower higher education costs to financially disadvantaged students.

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

In this article, we explain what distance learning is and dive into its different types. We are referring to its benefits and discussing how online schools or individual instructors can achieve a successful distance learning program.

Distance learning -also known as distance education- is the type of education that is conducted beyond the traditional classroom setting, physical space, and time and is aided by technology. As a term, it refers to the courses that can be studied without needing learners to be physically present at the school, college, or university.

Online educational tools allow students and instructors to interact synchronously or asynchronously and give endless training opportunities with distance learning courses or hybrid courses. For students who embrace distance learning, home is their most preferred location option.

Distance learning is available for all academic levels, including undergraduate, postgraduate, or master’s degree programs and doctorates. It can also be used in multiple educational modalities.

How does distance learning work?

Online courses are delivered using a Learning Management System (LMS). With LearnWorlds, for example, online learners can attend live lessons, and complete their coursework – including exams, directly online.

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

Finally, a learning group (discussion forums) is established in an LMS, composed of student-teacher 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 main capabilities offered within a modern LMS.

Depending on the audience you are providing instruction to, you will need to look for the LMS features that best match your requirements.

Online learning in the corporate setting –online training– refers to educational programs tailored to particular target groups. For example, industries now invest more and more in customer or employee training. The training aims to develop specific skills so that people can perform better in a particular field, or in the case of customers, increase their knowledge regarding a product.

If you want to use an LMS for training your customers, for example, this is what you can get:


Start using a distance learning tool (LMS) today, and see the benefits it can offer to your learners:

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How do distance learning programs work?

One of the major advantages of distance learning programs is that learners can connect at any time in 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 self-motivated to study by themselves and also manage their time effectively.

Blended learning approaches, shared social spaces in the form of blogs, and collaboratively edited documents are also used in online educational settings.

What are the advantages of distance learning?

In an online environment, information can be accessed when it is most convenient for the learner, asynchronously. This is a huge advantage for people who want to access remote learning and participate in online programs they wouldn’t be able to attend in person. Here are the key benefits of distance learning:

What are the different types of distance learning?

Overall, there are 3 types of distance learning:

Why Is Distance Learning Important?

Distance learning provides educational opportunities aimed toward personal and professional 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 qualifications.

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.

There is a fine line between distance learning and online learning that often gets blurred. Let’s get this straight.

Distance learning (also known as remote learning) has a higher level of accountability but requires scheduled class times. It replaces face-to-face classroom learning and is often used when in-person learning is not feasible (e.g., during the COVID-19 pandemic). Distance learning strives to re-create the classroom environment, meaning that a student logs in to the virtual classroom environment at scheduled times to view lectures or participate in group learning activities.

Online learning allows you to learn from the comfort of your home, often around a schedule that fits your needs and also sometimes in combination with some in-person meetings. There are plenty of tools that can keep learners engaged, for example, interactive flipbooks offer a more immersive learning experience, with features such as clickable links, embedded quizzes, and video explainers, allowing learners to actively engage with the content they’re studying. Online learning environments are more flexible but require learners to be self-motivated.

Distance Learning: Trend or the Future of Learning?

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. Even after the coronavirus, online learning has proven to be as reliable as it is accessible and flexible, making it so appealing still.

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

Universities benefit from adding students worldwide. Massive open online courses (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 the learning materials wherever and whenever they choose. By using a state-of-the-art online learning platform, instructors can make their academy the must-go learning destination.

To help you get a complete – 360-degree view of distance learning, here is a list of some online schools that have been using distance learning effectively.

Most of the above academies have used LearnWorlds to build their online presence. With the plethora of online learning platforms and learning management systems – LMSs, out there, it’s easy to create neat learning experiences today.

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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, allowing you to create unique interactive learning experiences.

Backed up with the ability to create flexible online courses, LearnWorlds allows you to add any learning activity you want to 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 of 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 overview your learners’ performance and check who has completed the training or not, what grades they got, and which answers they gave to each question.

A view of 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 occur in your academy (for example, registration emails, enrollment emails, subscription emails, learners notifications, admin settings, and email signatures).

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.

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Online education is undoubtedly here to stay with the rising advances in information technology. Online courses have proven to 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 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 for building an educational website, creating 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!

What’s good about distance learning?

Distance learning is packed with many benefits, including:

What is a distance learning course?

A distance learning course is a course that offers access to education online. Often this includes studying towards a degree offered by an online school, college, or university. Instead of students attending lectures physically, they get to study at home using the internet and/or other tools like an elearning platform or LMS.

What are the best distance learning online activities?

These are the best distance learning activities that can drive lots of engagement:

Can I create a distance learning online university?

Yes, you can build your own online school and teach any subject you want or consider yourself to be an expert in. With an online course platform like LearnWorlds, you get all the tools you need to become a successful online instructor and teach students worldwide.

How does distance learning affect students?

Distance learning helps students access high-quality content and work through their studies at their own pace, with greater flexibility, and from the comfort of their homes. To succeed, however, students must be self-motivated to study alone, complete their assignments on time, and prioritize their tasks.

Can distance learning help special needs students who can’t travel easily?

Yes, distance learning can provide additional aid to special needs students who can’t travel easily. With the help of technology and the right learning tools, they can attend online sessions from their computer without the need to travel long distances or be in the same physical location as their instructors.

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Content Creator at LearnWorlds

Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team writing about marketing and e-learning, helping course creators on their journey to create, market, and sell their online courses. Equipped with a degree in Career Guidance, she has a strong background in education management and career success. In her free time, she gets crafty and musical.