Distance learning.

Distance Lear­ning: Quality Educa­tion for All

Distance lear­ning makes quality educa­tion possible, even when inst­ructor and student are in diffe­rent loca­tions, and have diffe­rent sche­dules. This is not a new idea. The first mail-based corre­spon­dence courses were offered more than a century ago. Modern tech­no­logy has made distance educa­tion faster, easier, and of higher quality. Many larger colleges and univer­si­ties offer some on line courses, and millions of students around the world have used the Internet, and other modern online teaching tech­no­lo­gies, to further their education.

Distance Lear­ning Technology

There are 2 general types of online educa­tion tech­no­lo­gies. Some allow students to work enti­rely on their own sche­dule. Lecture notes and other course mate­rials can be made avail­able on line, in written form or as strea­ming audio. Commu­ni­ca­tion between teacher and student, and between students, is done via presen­ta­tion tools, e‑mail, on line message boards, remote access soft­ware, or even voice confe­ren­cing. This is known as asyn­chro­nous communication.

In some cases, it may be necessary for all members of a class to parti­ci­pate in an event simul­ta­ne­ously, even though sepa­rated by great distance. These inter­ac­tive exch­anges are made possible with synchro­nous tech­no­logy, such as instant messagingonline presen­ta­tion soft­waredesktop sharing, chat rooms, and web confe­ren­cing soft­ware, which may include audio. Teachers can present the class mate­rial on their own computer screen, and the student can view the teacher’s remote desktop live over the Web by parti­ci­pa­ting in a distance lear­ning class.

The tech­no­logy needed to parti­ci­pate in distance lear­ning is not expen­sive, making high-quality educa­tion more widely avail­able than ever before.

Quality of Distance Learning

In the past, “mail-order degrees” and similar certi­fi­ca­tions have been looked upon with suspi­cion, and some­times rightly so. Using today’s tech­no­logy, however, the quality of distance educa­tion and online trai­ning can be equal to that deli­vered in the tradi­tional class­room. Pres­ti­gious, main­stream univer­si­ties are even offe­ring under­gra­duate and advanced degrees through e‑learning soft­ware. Issues of inte­grity, or concern about distance lear­ning students chea­ting on tests, have been mini­mized. College Level Exami­na­tion Program (CLEP) tests are often used in online lear­ning classes, as are the DANTES Stan­dar­dized Subject Tests. These are stan­dar­dized, proc­tored tests which can be accepted for college credit. In addi­tion, tests and quizzes may be replaced with larger rese­arch projects, which force the student to make an in-depth exami­na­tion of the subject.

For those unable to be present in a class­room, due to time cons­traints, loca­tion, or even disa­bi­lity, distance lear­ning is an oppor­tu­nity to acquire an educa­tion that would other­wise have been impossible.