Distance learning had been so often corroborated with online learning. Albeit it is true that in most cases, distance learning is a part of e-learning, but technically speaking, you wouldn’t need e-learning for distance learning. The truth to the matter is that distance learning and online learning or e-learning are three completely different things.
What is Distance Learning?
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Distance learning is a term most commonly seen used by higher education students that take up other activities besides their college courses such as work. Yet, it is actually much more than that. Distance learning is a process of learning where the learner is given assessments periodically; however, the timetable of their study is determined by the learner.
In addition to the freedom of time, the learner would also be free from the formality of attending classes and make contact with other learners. Meaning, the learner that takes up distance learning has the freedom to study what they need whenever and wherever they care for.
Difference to Online Learning
The main differences are within the subtle definitions. In most cases, a distance learning program would need online learning to give the learner their assessment or test by the end of the learning period. However, the difference here is that online learning, in definition, is when a learner studies in an online manner.
Where, technically, you may conduct distance learning without the need for electrical devices. An example of this is giving test sheets to the student through a physical letter. However, due to its obsolete form, it is, of course, preferable to make use of online or e-learning to distance learning. A somewhat insignificant difference in terms, but with large consequences to expected results.
Results of Distance and Online Learning
There are many variables that can determine the outcome of any such learning method; especially if planned to be done on a large scale such as in a university or corporate training. However, most distance learning students have a surprisingly lower result than you would think. The cause of this can vary from mismanagement of the student to inaccurate assessment from the teaching party. But even then, a successful distance learning initiative may prove to have a different outcome if you were expecting the same outcome from online or e-learning.
Although in the end, you would need to consider the quality of the materials provided to the students in both initiatives, for comparison purposes let’s say that the methods are equally efficient. The end result of a distance learning student would vary in many ways. One of the point that determines this is that within distance learning, the students are to look for the knowledge mostly by themselves. Without proper guidance may learn more or less than what you would need. Meanwhile a student ongoing a pre-determined course would have uniform knowledge with their peers.
Why Distance Learning?
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From the lower average scores and inconsistent knowledge gathering, you would think that distance learning is obsolete between the two. However, this does not have to be the case. With traditional distance learning, it is indeed more prone that the student would wander in their search of knowledge as there are no set boundaries.
With a tweak to the initiative, distance learning may very well be a more fitting and engaging method of learning. As the original idea of distance learning is to give the learner freedom to explore knowledge and materials provided to their own limits. Should a distance learning method work, the learner most likely find themselves better attuned to essential skills such as:
- Time Management
- Task Management
And much more.
e-Learning Results and Problems
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On the other hand, a more directed and guided approach can help a learner be more adapted to repeating or specific orders. E-Learning helps best for assessment-based education where memorization of materials mean more than the learner’s own curiosity and exploration of the subjects.
Both, however, still have their faults. While distance learning encourages personal learning, it leaves the learner with a lot of responsibility and often invisible boundaries that may easily be left behind. And yet, e-learning is too straightforward. So much so, that it actually highly disengages most learners.
For this, solutions like gamification, or other methods of improvement to help engage the students are still viable and well-needed for either type of learning.