Distance learning & online learning

Online learning guide

Many higher education institutions such as colleges and universities have distance learning programs of some kind which offers students the possibility of earning their degree online or in the home using various media as their study guide. While learning online uses basically a computer and the internet with a combination of software, distance learning differs in that it can also involve the use of teachers and tutors coming to the home of the student and presenting them with course work and being on hand to offer advice.

There are basically four different elements or components within the system of distance learning and online learning, these are:

Materials based learning

This system of online or distance learning relies on resource materials which are provided by the course provider for students to study in their own time at their leisure. The materials supplied are diverse and may include printed, audio and audio visual, software and e-books, online resources, forums and video conferencing are also made available as is any other form of electronic or computer based resources.

The wide scope of materials supplied for the course will range from syllabuses to complex collections of multi media which are specifically designed to meet the needs of those who wish to study online or at a distance.

The methods by which students obtain these materials varies, when learning online students will mainly obtain their course work from the internet while distance learning involves them obtaining materials also from travelling teachers, through the post and personally collecting them from distribution points.

Course material delivered by travelling teachers

This component of distance learning involves staff of the institution travelling to the student’s home on a periodic basis to deliver course material. Very often travelling teachers will also orientate the student initially; provide tutorial support, intensive teaching of the program and give the student guidance and feedback.

Locally supported learning

This component of distance learning involves the institute employing people specifically to support students undertaking the coursework from home. Very often the institute who supplies the program for distance learning will also provide support via a weekend workshop.

Remote supported learning

This component of learning involves the institutes support remotely; a common form of support this way is by email, postal correspondence in the form of audio or video cassette, telephone, fax and the internet. Support can either be on an individual basis or may include computer based conferencing.

All of the above are components which go to make up programs for successful distance and online learning, of course there is much more to online or distance learning than the above but it is merely a way of helping prospective students to online learning get a better understanding of the structural aspect of distance and online learning.

When you choose your particular course it will include some of the above methods and most courses will rely on one component more than other. When choosing your course try to choose a method that will suit your particular style of study and temperament.

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