Distance Education

Distance education is traditionally defined as, any educational or learning procedure in which the guide and the student are separated geographically. There is no interaction between students.

Distance education also known as distance learning or distributed learning, or remote education, has now existed for ages. It involves acquiring information from methods other then the traditional way of gaining knowledge – attending institutions. Some recent definitions have focused on it as a new development, involving advanced technology

Present-day distance learning is influenced a lot by computer and electronics technology. The technology has now made it possible for the guide and student to connect almost immediately. Study resources can be delivered instantly through computers, satellites, internet, cable television, interactive video etc.

History Of Distance Education

Correspondence education, the initial form of distance education, developed in the mid-nineteenth century in Europe and then spread to the United States and so on.

Initially distance education used the finest technology available at that time, the postal system, to open educational prospects to people who wanted to study but were not able to attend traditional schools. People who gained most from correspondence education were women, professional people, physical disabled, and individuals who lived in areas where schools didn’t exist.

Isaac Pitman, a British is attributed to pioneering the concept of “distance education”. He started by teaching shorthand via correspondence in 1840. Students were asked to copy passages from Bible and send them for grading via the new penny post system.

In, American the distance education began in 1874 at Illinois Wesleyan University where bachelor and graduate degrees could be obtained without being actually present in the classes. The Chautauqua movement in the year 1882 gave the much required thrust to correspondence education.

Correspondence education became quite famous by 1900 and problems of excellence and fair practice came with the popularity. The National Home Study Council (NHSC) was formed in 1926 in part to deal with such issues. 

Distance education went through a major change   after the invention of radio in the 1920s and the arrival of television in the 1940s. Distance education is increasingly using combinations of different technologies to improve communication between teachers and students. In 1900, after the arrival of computer, distance education took a big leap. Now the teachers and students can converse sitting face-to-face.

Students from business and university level have used the conferencing technique known as one-way video/two-way audio where pictures from television are transmitted to particular sites, people can reply to the newscaster via telephone. Television pictures can also be broadcast in two directions at the same time through telephone lines, so that teachers and students at one place can see and hear teachers and students in other places.

Distance Education in India

Distance education was adopted by many universities in India to meet the ever increasing expectations of the students. Students who are not able to complete their education, resort to distance education to complete higher studies. Convenient education, study from home, more quality & less expensive, earning while learning are some of the popular advantages of distance education. And this is the reason it is growing with a great pace in India.

Types of distance learning

Distance learning does not rule out the traditional methods of learning. When used in the classroom or professional education. It is also called distributed learning.

Types of distance education based on the medium

  1. Internet
  2. Video
  3. Audio 

Internet Based Courses

Students receive instructions through websites, email, electronic bulletin boards, and messaging systems.

Video Based Courses

Two types of video based distance learning courses are available

Pre-recorded – These are already recorded video tapes that are sent to the students which they can viewed as per convenience.

Two-Way Interactive – Computer, satellites, cameras, and television allow teachers and students to interact.

Audio Based Courses

This includes everything from phone conferences, radio broadcasting and prerecorded audio CDs.

Who offers distance learning programs?

Most of the universities nowadays offer distance and online learning programs for bachelor's degrees, master’s degrees, and PhD programs. You are certain to find a course of your interest that offers you with the skills you need to achieve your educational and professional goals.

Advantages of Distance Education

  1. Ability to combine work with existing commitments
  2. Cheaper
  3. No deadlines
  4. Less pressure
  5. No set start date
  6. You can decide your time of and place of study.
  7. No matter where you live – you can still achieve a degree from anywhere in the world.

Disadvantages of Distance Education

  1. Distance learning requires self-motivation
  2. Lack of face-to-face time in virtual learning
  3. Distance learning does not offer immediate feedback. 
  4. Distance learning must be accredited.
  5. Distance learning does not give students the opportunity to work on oral communication skills
  6. Distance learning does not always offer all the necessary courses online.
  7. Distance learning requires you to have constant, reliable access to technology. 

Job Prospects

With the economic uncertainties, combined with rising unemployment, it’s important to think how you can stand out in a cut throat job market. Taking up a new vocational course by distance learning will allow you to display self-motivation and attain new skills with negligible impact on your existing lifestyle, which will prove advantageous in the search for your next professional move.

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