Having come into being for decades, distance education sets in times of dramatic technological change and rising appealing for increased educational opportunities in the American education system.
Distance education is a form of education where the teacher and the learner are normally geographically separated and in which technical mechanism is used to deliver courses.
Free from the restriction of geographic location, distance education originally aims at bridging educational gap by delivering equal educational opportunities to people in areas suffering from the paucity of reasonable education. Now its usage has been expanded to enabling people to receive any kind of online learning anywhere anytime.
Distance education defined
At its most basic level, distance education is the process of teachers’ delivering academic courses to students in a separated environment with the assistance of modern internet technology. A wide range of technological tools are used for the interaction and communication between teachers and students, which fall into four two categories:
• Synchronous Learning: It requires a timetable to be arranged so that all participants are present online at the same time. Technology examples used include web conferencing, videoconferencing, instructional/educational television, direct-broadcast satellite, live streaming, internet radio, web-based VoIP and telephone.
• Asynchronous Learning: It allows participants to access course materials on their separate schedules. Asynchronous delivery technology involved includes mail correspondence (the oldest form of distance education), e-mail, voicemail, fax, message board forums and video/audio recordings.
As a brand-new, innovative means of education, distance education brings many valuable advantages.
• The comfort of studying at home
This is perhaps the most direct advantage distance education offers, especially for non-U.S. students seeking accredited U.S. degrees, because they are able to receive the same education at their home countries without bothering applying for student visas to study in the U.S. In addition, commuting fees and the time it takes to travel back and forth to the ground campus are saved.
• The flexibility of arranging schedules
With distance education, you have total control over your study schedule. You don’t have to go to school from 9 am to 5 pm five days a week. You are able to take classes and manage a demanding lifestyle at the same time.
• The self-paced style of learning
It happens that it takes a longer time for you to grasp concepts as compared to others. With distance education, you are given the advantage of learning and understanding your classes at your own pace without necessarily feeling stresses out by lagging behind. On the other hand, you can speed up your study pace and intensity without waiting for slower pace of the average classroom if you have a faster learning pace.
Challenges distance education faces
While distance education poses a revolutionary option for handling education imbalance, problems and flaws do exist.
• It requires costly and complex technology. Opportunities inherent to distance education require expensive technological tools. For example, you have to possess a computer with access to the internet and live video/audio communication tools.
• Distance education degrees may not be acknowledged by some employers. Almost all leading companies give preference for candidates who receive a regular course. Therefore, the job prospect may not look promising for those receiving distance education. In many cases, degrees earned with distance education are not acknowledged by some employers.
Having been the talk of the town for decades, distance education is nothing new.
It opens doors for many students, especially those who have demanding lifestyle and who cannot afford to pay for the high fees for full-time courses.
Earning a degree at the comfort of your home and the self-paced learning schedule seems tempting and enjoyable. But, as everything goes, distance education is not for everyone. There are e-learners who thrive on the independence offered by online education as well as those who wish they had enrolled at a traditional school instead.
Also known as virtual learning, e-learning, online learning, distance education can be any type of schooling that takes place away from physical campus.
In fact, distance education is more popular than any other traditional education. Recently, the online enrollments of online grow faster than any other higher education enrollments according to the Slogan Survey of Online Learning. Some colleges and universities even have added online education as part of their courses or degree programs. Some colleges have specially risen to be internet-based, while others are growing far beyond their traditional campus in the internet age.