Correspondence and Distance Education Differences

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.

3d e-learning conceptCorrespondence 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.

Distance Education and Industrialization

Industrialization has been a feature of distance education for many years. Otto Peters, a pioneering theorist, described when technology is used to reach learners in mass, education assumes commercial features, such as, standardization of services and huge manufacturing of academic products (Keegan 1994). To the level that letters knowledge trusted huge production of academic materials (e.g. books) it was a commercial business. Another sign of industrialization in distance education is division of labor. The course team as initially designed by Charles Wedemeyer and applied by the British Open University is an example of division of labor in online learning. The contemporary university is also gifted with a bureaucracy, by definition is a commercial operation, although the educating methods both in the class room and at a distance, mostly, remain pre-commercial (pre-modern) and craft focused.

3d e-learning conceptIndustrialization to train and learn is particularly suitable when the need of many learners for access is at stake. Daniel (1996) focusing the failure of “campus” education to meet such a need, particularly in developing nations, compared the function of “mega-universities,” or those serving the needs of at least 100,000 learners, with that of “campus” colleges. He said: “The mega-universities vary from campus universities in their manufacturing procedures. The operations of the mega-universities owe much to commercial methods, whereas academic procedures on campus are similar to a cottage industry.”

It is worth noting here that Daniel’s idea of a “cottage industry” is different than that of Toffler, who imagined a “cottage industry” as a “third wave phenomenon.” Daniel’s referrals to a “cottage industry” here is a pre-industrial operation with employees who work alone and perform their projects without the benefit of a supporting staff providing them the advantages of industrial division of labor. Introduction of the Internet with its potential for a post-industrial form to train and learn has led to a review of industrialization. Daniel (1996) making referrals to the disadvantages of the pre-commercial, and commercial operations, said “It is likely that neither strategy will be particularly well designed for the third generation of online learning technologies: the knowledge media.”

Increase of Distance Education Popularity

Nearly 22,000 students registered in online learning applications or distance education courses through South Dakota’s community colleges during the 2012-13 school year, up 8.5% from the year before and up 65% overall during the last five years.  The reported numbers were discussed by the state Board of Regents, whose members govern the community colleges.  Students in distance programs in the last year most frequently were undergraduates (75.5%), part-timers (69.9%) and female (64%).  The University of South Dakota had the largest slice of online learning with 34.4% of the registration and nearly 38% of the applications.

distance_educationSouth Dakota State University was right behind in registration at 33.4%, followed by Black Hills State University at 13.2, Northern State University 9.2, Dakota State University 7.8 and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology 2.0.  Distance education covers a variety of delivery methods. Some are available solely through the Internet; others combine Internet and video technology and also involve correspondence and there are classroom programs at off-campus locations. Students getting distance programs increasingly tend to be from outside South Dakota.

The 6,394 non-residents came from almost every state in the nation last year and represented just shy of 30% of the total getting distance programs. Five years earlier, the number was 2,399, just under 24%. Non-degree seeking learners comprised 30.9% of undergraduates and 61.4% of graduate-level learners in distance education programs last year. Nursing, elementary education, pre-nursing and biology were the top four degree-specific programs for undergraduates. Among degree-specific programs, learners registered most often in education administration, business, administrative studies and curriculum and education.

What Makes Distance Learning Unique

Distance learning is a method which ­provides tremendous advantage, not only to the student’s population but also to the community as a whole. When a student goes to a university, they get a regular degree. The degree becomes more appropriate to the society along with being appropriate to the student. Distance learning offers programs in non-traditional places. So, it is wrong to say that it is a leftover school for students who do not get entrance in a university.

Hands on a globeWhat makes distance learning different from a physical university? There are three elements that make distance learning vary from any other studying, i.e. ­self-learning print content. This is further reinforced by audio-video packages delivered through tele­conferencing, internet classrooms and counseling. Students appear in on the internet degree programs with different levels of capabilities, but success in college needs many different abilities. In addition to the fundamentals, such as numeracy and literacy, certain soft abilities associated with teamwork, such as flexibility and group interaction, are critical to on the internet college student success. Online learners must also master specialized abilities, such as using computer systems and Internet systems, to function successfully in school. The most frequently mentioned single reason for college student drop-out—both online and at brick-and-mortar schools is profession indecision. Guaranteeing learners have a clear education plan that suits their profession objectives should be an institutional priority.

Numerous internet resources are available to help students choose an educational field that suits their strong points and profession objectives. One specific profession choice system that schools implemented is the Idea Generator. This system offers a short internet test that links learners to a profession area entered to their passions and strong points.

Distance Education and the Future of Education

On the internet or distance education— the training and studying of learners not physically present in the traditional educational setting — is growing in recent times and provides perhaps the greatest chance — and challenge — in the history of education. The current problems in college funding, both in the U.S. and overseas, in addition to important technology developments and the demand for more college degrees across all areas of society, have placed distance education in the center of every college conversation. Students and parents, schools, government authorities and management bodies, and many other constituencies have an important interest in a number of critical issues including distance education.

Virtually every large school and many other universities already provide some type of online education and studying opportunity. Some, specifically online providers have been around for decades. Some colleges are experimenting with combined ventures to provide no cost web based programs, such as Harvard and MIT through their partnership edX. Closer To Home, U.Va. has declared its decision to offer no cost web based programs through Coursera, a for-profit company whose other education and learning partners include Cal Tech, Duke, Georgia Tech, Johns-Hopkins, Michigan, Princeton, Stanford and Penn, as well as several leading universities abroad. The commitment of resources both individually and collectively by these top-tier colleges underscores the integral role of distance learning in college.

Regardless of the many hurdles and difficulties, distance education is, and will continue to be, a fundamental element of education. It provides much greater access to college credit and will considerably increase the number of degrees finished while reducing the cost of those degrees. Learners must exercise warning, however, while colleges need to look at common requirements and government and management organizations need to play their part. It is our future to band together.

Future of Higher and Distance Education

Just in case, just soon enough, just enough, just for me… What do these say about our degree components, the time (and resources) our learners need to finish full credentials developed in a past era and where the truth of obsolescence need different responses? These three experiences also provide some feeling of a possible upcoming gestalt of greater and online. In a course I am, I had to elaborate on the different opportunities for and difficulties in using asynchronous and synchronous technology in online situations. I also registered for the Open MOOC provided by Henry Siemens and Rory McGreal discovering the history of open knowledge. The third experience composed an involvement with a school in my home organization showing on issues about the number of our learners who do not finish a three-year bachelor’s degree in eight years’ time.

There is furthermore proof that non-academic aspects such as changes in clients’ life-worlds, institutional problems and macro-societal aspects, etc., effect more on clients’ choices to dropout or stop-out than educational aspects. The high dropout rate in distance education should therefore not be used as proof that learners studying through range and open studying are of smaller quality or have fewer prospects than learners in private colleges. Distance education and studying also draws different types of learners making any evaluation between complete prices in personal and online organizations trivial.

If we agree that most online learners take about 50 percent of the course load per season than private learners, it seems affordable that online learners finish a three-year bachelor’s degree program in six years. If we consider that learners do not complete all of their programs in time and may repeat programs, then eight years for a three-year undergrad certification does not seem to be irrational. How does this describe the 40% dropout and 30% that take more a chance to finish? It doesn’t…