What Exactly Is Distance Learning?

Reference & EducationCollege & University

  • Author Rachel Lee
  • Published October 19, 2011
  • Word count 429

Distance learning is recent, but growing, avenue for students who either:

  • Don’t have the time or resources to attend a traditional school or college

  • Don’t live near enough to an institution, or at least one offering the subject(s) they want to pursue, to attend

Before Distance Learning, or, as it's also called, Distance Education became a reality an aspiring student had limitations on them. The scheduled classes required their presence at a designated location at a designated time.

They also had to contend with having to actually move to another city, state or even country for their studies. This mean a complete uprooting that required a lot of change in their lives and funding so they could go full-time.

For working people who wanted to take classes, this meant a sacrifice of free time and extra work that had to be completed on a strict schedule. Not always easy when you’re holding down a 40 hour a week job and possibly supporting a family.


That’s all changed now.

Distance Education means that the student and the teacher are separated geographically, often by hundreds, even thousands of miles. The classes and tests are commonly conducted over the Internet, sometimes by video or audio files and through other types of technology. In a sense your school or class is there when you’re ready, rather than being a ‘make it or miss it’ basis.

In addition to this extended reach, Distance Learning offers a flexibility that the traditional classroom cannot. Classes and learning can be done on a looser timetable. Homework and assignments are sometimes just due to be turned in any time before the end of the term. That can be both a blessing and a curse.

Distance learning students are more responsible for completing their work and studies. This greater freedom in your schedule means you have to have more discipline and willpower than traditional students. You will have to decide to sit down and do the work that needs to be done.

There aren’t any dorm roommates or a professor standing in front of you to remind you about the test coming up. You still have some hard deadlines, but meeting them is purely up to you.

If where you live, your work schedule or other things limit you, Distance Learning could very well be your path to success. It’s a way to pursue a degree and make yourself more marketable in the workforce without the often overwhelming time and travel demands of traditional schools.

Article by Rachel Lee, courtesy of Dorcas University, a Distance Learning University, based in Honolulu, Hawaii. We provide online degree programs, including MBA. Any use of this article must include the above credit and link.

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