Distance education has been with us for some time. Since its introduction more than a decade ago, many students are availing of the system for convenience and accessibility. Other students are not carved out for distance education. They have a hard time adjusting to the program, including its schedule and instructors at times. But let us examine facts about distance education.
They Are Everywhere
It is fast becoming the thing for modern education. In fact, the percentage at times of availing of these said programs outweigh the conventional ones. Modern living is life on a fast lane, and that is quite fitting with distance education.
Even nursing courses are into distance education. This is unheard of in the past. Not only that, platforms of this type of education vary depending on the preference of the student.
They Offer Better Results
Distance education can be a surprise. The results of state exams prove that despite being enrolled in a distance education program, students still excel compared to their classroom counterparts.
They’re Perfect for Adults, Too
A significant number of senior students are doing well with distance education. And besides, this makes for easy access on education since older students are working most of the time.
They are Cheaper (not with fees)
Yes, distance education is cheaper than the conventional one. The amount of expenses you have with distance education is quite minimal compared to the costs when attending a traditional classroom.
They’re Not a Threat at All
There are students who have techno phobias. They should not worry with distance education. The subjects discussed in it are quite the same as in a classroom, but with a difference. You can study, take the exam and go over your assignment from a distance.
Nowadays, distance education is much popularly known as online education because of its use of the Internet as an instructional delivery model. And while correspondence education is part of distance education, they have differences in delivery methods, academic rigor, and convenience and flexibility factors.
Correspondence education was first developed in the mid-nineteenth century in Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States to make education available to those who do not have access to a university. The course materials in correspondence education are given to the learner via mail or electronic means. Meanwhile, distance education takes advantage of the fast Internet technology in delivering instructional materials. It typically uses emails and live chats, as well as audio or video recording.
Distance education is far more rigorous compared to the traditional correspondence education. That is because it offers a more interactive environment. The teacher and the student, even student-to-student, despite being in different locations, can have a quasi-face-to-face environment that enhances the academic rigor. Traditional correspondence education, on the other hand, is done through mail delivery that fails to offer any type of interaction among students, all the more student-to-teacher interaction. In other words, correspondence education is static while online education is fluid and dynamic.
As for convenience and flexibility, both distance education and correspondence education offer a good autonomy to learners. The difference is that one has limited freedom while the other has too much of it. Online education, although flexible, still has deadlines for posting reactions on discussion boards which makes it not as flexible as correspondence education that has a “hands off” approach. There is a downside to too much freedom in correspondence education though. It may not be a good thing to all learners as it requires self-motivation and self-discipline.
The origins of distance education can be traced to mid-19th century Europe and the United States. The postal system was the best technology that pioneers could use in their day. It was started to open educational opportunities to people who wanted to learn but were not able to attend conventional schools. Those with physical disabilities, women who were not allowed to enroll in institutions open only to men, people who had jobs during normal school hours, and those who lived in remote regions where schools did not exist are the people who most benefitted from distance education.
In 1872, American university level distance education began at Illinois Wesleyan University. Bachelor and graduate degrees could be obtained in absentia. The Chautauqua movement in about 1882 gave the popular push to correspondence education.
In 1915, accreditation of college and university distance programs fell to the National University Extension Association. And in 1926, the National Home Study Council (NHSC) was formed to address the issues of quality and ethical practice that arose due to the popularity of the teaching of academic and vocation courses by correspondence in 1900.
Distance Education has developed as technology changed. The invention of education radio in the 1920s and the advent of television in the 1940s created important new forms of communication for use in distance education. The development of reliable long-distance telephone company in the early 1900s also increased the capacity of distance educators to reach new student population. But telephone systems only played a prominent role in distance education with the development of teleconferencing technologies in the 1980s and 1990s. And, with the spread of computer-network communication in the 1980s and 1990s, it allowed teachers to communicate in conferences through computers.
Today, distance education makes use of the internet where teachers and students present text, pictures, audio, and video. File sharing and communications tools like email, chats, and audio and video conferencing are integral part of the internet setup.
It would surprise you that distance education started as early as mid-19th century Europe and the United States. During those times, the best technology that the distance education pioneers can use was the postal system. Today, distance education has become increasingly popular and one of the reasons is the technology we have available, the internet.
To open educational opportunities to people who wanted to learn but are not able to attend conventional schools, distance education was established. Geographical or time concerns are mainly the reasons that prevent the student from attending an on-campus course. This gap is bridged by electronic means and by distributing educational materials through distance learning programs using printed and mailed materials.
Today, most distance education takes place using the internet because it is the vastly accessible means for majority of the students. Through the internet, the learning materials can be distributed, students can keep in touch with teachers, and provide access to communication between students. Other technological formats are also used in distance learning like television, DVDs, teleconferencing, and printable material. However, distance education through the web is the first choice for many learners.
Distance education makes it much easier for a student to complete a degree or get additional job-training while balancing work and family commitments because class work hours are flexible. Most distance education programs allow their students to work at their own pace and on their own time. Distance learning is also great for students who do not have readily available access to educational facilities or those who want to explore opportunities not offered by their local schools.
In the past decade, distance education has become an increasingly popular way for students to learn about topics and get degrees they might not otherwise be able to pursue. And this allow students to enhance career prospects wherever they may be.
Advanced technology has made distance education a good alternative for aspiring Engineers. A number of online programs are offered. Graduates from these courses are embraced by employers with arms wide open. This acceptance have grown immensely over the years due to quality of the curriculum and qualified students from online schools.
Learning engineering principles at any level (bachelors and masters) can be done online. The increasing number of colleges offering online courses has made it more accessible to get a degree while meeting other personal needs, most especially financial. Students, who pay for their studies, can work and study all at the same time. When they graduate, they won’t have to worry about landing on a job. This is because employers are less concerned of where an applicant’s degree was completed from – traditional on-campus or online. This motivates many students wanting to earn online engineering degrees.
Well, how does this work? By leveraging technology, distance education brings integrated course materials, dedicated websites, teleconferences, and chat rooms in class directly on to your personal computer or lap top – anywhere at anytime. Because distance learning lets students work while completing a degree, many have see that they can directly apply what they’ve learned on-the-job long before they graduate.
Online engineering programs are the best option for those who are looking to get a degree, or for those adults who want to go back to school and acquire master’s or an associate’s degree in engineering. The learning process is quite easy. Students learn through tools such as DVDs, recorded lectures, videos, and live streaming. Instructors give assignments or projects by posting them on virtual blackboards or send them through email, or on a virtual blackboard. Assignments may be done at student’s own time, but during exams, they will need to log into the school’s system at a particular time.
Distance education is a variable that is different for each individual student. Some students are more relaxed than others with practicing autonomy in:
- Setting their studying goals,
- Selecting their studying techniques,
- Monitoring their meta-cognitive states,
- Ensuring that they have obtained their predetermined goals, and
- Assessing when they have exceeded perfecting predetermined goals and have obtained the capability to be innovative, fix problems and deal with unique conditions when they occur instantly and suddenly.
- More independent students usually reduce the stage of transactional distance between themselves and their teachers. Other students require more structure in their studying. They:
- Are less likely to set their own studying goals and depend more on what is set for them in advance,
- Are more relaxed with preselected studying techniques as in comparison to choosing such techniques for themselves,
- Prefer to get support in how to observe their meta-cognitive states,
- Rely on consistent assessments to make sure that they have obtained the specified goals of training, and
- Arrive at critical thinking, troubleshooting and creativeness with the support of a group of students.
Less independent students usually increase the stage of transactional distance. However, both categories of students and the many more that fit in between them benefit from versatile distance education that accommodate their patience for independence and meet their need for framework.
Distance education in-and-of-itself has no value other than serving the learning of students according to their skills (ability to perform particular projects under certain conditions. More transactional distance is not better or more intense; its appropriate stage relies on the skills of each individual student while executing a process). The objective for all students is to be successful, some may take more time, some less, but all of them would master the conventional studying goals. Distance education created based on the concept of transactional distance is, therefore, result oriented; it measure the efficiency of the student under certain conditions as the important factor in the teaching-learning formula.
Distance education needs to be clearly defined and understood for a variety of reasons. Without a clear meaning, significant discussion and analysis on pedagogy cannot occur. Furthermore, a precise meaning is important for both teachers and students when thinking about distance education and learning. Interpreting distance education and learning is made more difficult because the development of this type of education has changed quickly from first-generation correspondence education and learning to fifth-generation intelligent flexible learning. Furthermore, there are multiple published explanations. Before developing a usable meaning, it is helpful to see how distance education’s meaning has been both created and pushed up to now.
Valentine talks about distance-learning explanations by discovering colleagues’ differing views. He declares, “Greenberg (1998) describes contemporary online learning as planned teaching/learning experiences that used a wide variety of technologies to reach the student at a distance and is designed to encourage student interaction and documentation of learning.” However, Valentine’s notes that Greenberg’s meaning doesn’t address whether the student is learning asynchronously or synchronously. Valentine says that Teaster and Bliezner’s (1999) meaning makes clear that distance education and learning happens when the student is separate in space and possibilities. But the author features that technological innovation isn’t mentioned at all in Teaster and Bliezner’s meaning.
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (2009) describes online learning as “an educational process in which all or the majority of the instruction happens with the instructor and student in different locations.” In this meaning, Center States makes no mention of technological innovation or whether learning is going on asynchronously or synchronously. In evaluating Keegan’s meaning, Valentine says, “Keegan (1995) gives the most thorough meaning. He says that distance education and learning and training result from the technological separation of instructor and student, which liberates the student from the necessity of traveling to ‘a set position, at a set time, to meet a set person, in order to be trained’.” While Keegan’s meaning of online learning is indeed thorough, it is not able to determine education and learning. Learning and education do differ. Furthermore, for successful research to begin, defining online education and learning is imperative.