Online College Education: The Benefits of Distance Learning!
Distance learning was developed to offer an education to people who could not be physically present in a classroom or with a teacher to learn about a subject or study toward a degree. Distance learning is thought to have begun in the 1700's when a man by the name of Caleb Phillips advertised in a newspaper that he was seeking students for shorthand that he would teach by correspondence. The roots of distance learning at the college level go back to 1858 when the University of London developed its External Programme, in which the Royal Mail was used to communicate with students. Today, nearly every college offers some kind of online format for at least one class, if not an entire degree program. Even some whole colleges are completely online and they utilize many of today's technologies to interact with students in new ways.
Technologies Used for Distance Learning Courses
Many colleges use online learning platforms that are specifically used for use in online classrooms. These include Moodle and Blackboard. These platforms have integrated forums for discussion, messaging systems, chat rooms, and other technologies that can be utilized at the discretion of the school or professor. Many professors also use webinars for which students must log in to a service and call a conference line so that all students can be looking at the same presentation and can discuss the material at the same time. There are services that allow webinar attendees to log in with microphone and webcam so that all students can see and hear each other and be present in the same place at the same time, even if that place is virtual. Some schools offer television programming of lectures related to the class, or even live streaming on television or online so that students can actually see their professors and attend lectures through distance learning. Of course, all professors, even those who only teach on-campus classes, make themselves available by phone and email these days during their regular business hours.
The Benefits of Using Distance Learning
Many adults don't have the option of taking time off work to attend classes, so being able to attend classes through distance learning on their own time is important to them. Some schools value using on-campus learning as well as a distance learning component so that students truly get the most out of their education. Through distance learning, people in other countries all over the world can attend classes in any other country, and this exposes all students in the class to a diverse culture when learning. Many times, distance learning classes allow you to work at your own pace and in your own home as long as you keep up with the work, which makes it much easier for students who have a hard time with on-campus classes.
- Technology & Distance Learning: This guide from the US government goes over some of the technologies in use today and what research has been done to improve the technology used.
- Emerging Technologies in Distance Learning: There are many technologies that are still being researched that distance learners may see in practice in the coming years, according to this article from the University of North Carolina.
- Distance Learning Technologies for Basic Education in Disadvantaged Areas (PDF): According to Princeton, distance learning can help bring education to those living in areas in which education in on the decline.
- Making Distance Learning Accessible to Everyone (PDF): Sheryl Burgstahler, PhD assesses the many ways in which we can make distance learning accessible to everyone through the use of technology.
- Instructional Television: This guide from the University of Idaho covers how best to use television in distance learning for the benefit of the students.
- Distance Learning Technologies: The University of Wisconsin utilizes many different types of technology when using distance learning for its students.
- Understanding Distance Education: It's important to understand just what distance learning is and this guide from the University of Washington can help you do that.
- Use of Distance Learning Technology to Teach a Multidisciplinary Course: This example course shows how distance learning can benefit an actual course offering from Texas A & M University.
- Evaluation and Implementation of Distance Learning: Technologies, Tools, and Techniques: This article, published at the University of Georgia, covers many aspects of distance learning technologies as well as how to use them.
- Benefits of Distance Learning: A chapter from A Teacher's Guide to Distance Learning from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology helps us to better understand the benefits of distance learning.
- United States Distance Learning Association: This association helps guide students and professors in online and other forms of distance education.
- The Benefits of Blended Learning Explained: Blended learning or learning both online and in a classroom, has many benefits.
- Distance Learning Case Study: Berkeley did a study of the benefits of distance learning to see what financial and learning benefits there really were.
- Distance Learning: Another article by Sheryl Burgstahler that highlights the benefits of distance learning for those with disabilities.
- The Blackboard Learning System: This paper highlights the many benefits and few drawbacks to the blackboard learning system used by many colleges for online learning.
- Open and Distance Learning: What are the Benefits for Africa, and What is its Future? (PDF): This paper highlights the benefits of distance learning for a country that is known for poor education due to a lack of qualified instructors in most places.