Distance Education

There are many ways for students to learn outside of the traditional classroom setting. Whether it’s at their own pace or in interaction with instructors or peers, distance education courses can be an attractive option for many students.

Distance education has been made easier through the Internet, as information is transferred from one computer to another. Distance education is uninterrupted by long distances or time zones. This effectively opens doors to students who may find it difficult to leave their local area, and equally difficult to attend a physical institution.

As a teacher or school leader, distance learning can help you save cost, time and resources by focusing on what matters the most to you. This is a comprehensive guide on what distance learning is all about and how to incorporate it into your educational system.

What is Distance Education?

Distance education is a term used to describe the delivery of course content through methods other than regular face-to-face instruction.

It is a way of delivering higher education to students who are not able to attend classes on campus.

Students can take courses over the Internet, or go to an educational institution that uses television studios and web-conferencing technology, enabling students to connect with a distant learning centre.

Distance education can take place in a variety of ways, using different types of technology, from computer-based instruction to multimedia.

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What are the Benefits of Distance Education?

Self Motivation

A distance education program offers students the ability to be self-motivated. For some students, sitting in class for a prolonged period of time is not ideal.

Rather than struggle through a standard lecture format, these students can take control of their learning and set their own schedule.

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Location Independent

Having the option to learn from any location is an incredible benefit to many students.

Distance learning allows students who have a craving for travel, or are in a profession that requires moving around the country or the globe, to take their education with them.

Whether it’s having the option to do all their assignments away from campus or simply taking a final exam from home, travelling while completing your degree is another important aspect of distance learning.


Distance learning is extremely flexible. This mode of study offers students the choice to study any time at their own pace.

A student who has a job, family and other commitments and still wants to further his or her education can do so through distance learning.

Since they learn at their own pace, students can fit education into a busy schedule, instead of having to change their schedule in order to attend classes.

The convenience of distance learning makes it an attractive alternative to regular education.

Earning while Learning

Taking distance learning classes and earning a degree while working has become very popular with people who want to further their careers.

Distance education is a way to earn a degree while still working full time and maintaining family and other responsibilities.

Distance programs are designed to accommodate busy schedules. Anyone that can study independently and think critically, can study through distance education.


The cost of distance learning tends to be low compared to face-to-face instruction because they do not require costly equipment, additional instructors or additional building space.

Learning through distance education can fit any budget unlike learning through a campus, helping students graduate in an efficient and affordable manner.

Virtual Trips

Virtual trips provide an opportunity for students to experience world events from the comfort of their homes or any location with an Internet connection.

Teachers can take virtual field trips to explore different cultures, regions, and unique landmarks using a combination of images, video clips, virtual tours, and audio recordings.

While travelling to foreign countries may not be possible, virtual trips allow students to have a feeling of different countries around the world.

What are the Features of Distance Education?

Separation of Teacher from Learner

Distance education utilises the inherent barriers found in our geography to teach courses and lessons at a distance, separating the instructor from the learner.

With distance education, the teacher and learner may be separated by a considerable distance, though they are both able to communicate through electronic media.

Two-Way Communication

When one learns through distance education, there is two-way communication.

With two-way communication, teachers and students are able to constantly interchange information with one another. By doing so, there will be more understanding between the instructor and student about the curriculum being taught.

Use of Technical Medias

The distance educator uses technical media such as print, audio, video or computer, to deliver instructional materials to learners, making it possible for them to take courses even though they are not present in one location.

The use of technical media helps students communicate with the instructor, access materials, and submit assignments through different means.

Multiple Classes

Distance education allows students to take classes taught at multiple universities in the comfort and convenience of their home.

They will be able to take many of their core courses online, allowing you to complete your degree faster, rather than waiting for the next on-campus class.

Distance education allows students to find an educational opportunity that fits their busy lives and schedules.

What are the Common Types of Distance Education?

Synchronous Learning

Synchronous learning involves multiple students taking part in the same class at different locations by using audio, video, or teleconferencing equipment.

This allows the teacher to see and hear all the students who are participating in real-time. The students and teachers all learn at the same time but in different physical locations.

Hybrid Learning

In hybrid learning, students learn the same curriculum at the same pace in a synchronous way.

However, not all students are required to attend class in person. Some students may attend some of their classes in person while others may take their courses via distance learning.

Asynchronous Learning

Asynchronous learning refers to a learning system that does not involve real-time attendance. Students do their own assignments, receive feedback, and then return to the online course management system to submit their work for grading.

With asynchronous learning, students are essentially self-taught, and their teachers provide them with learning activities to complete within a deadline.

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing is a great way for students to go face-to-face with their teachers and engage in a live lesson from a distance.

Whether students need direct assistance with online homework, remote tutoring, or just want to hear a speech in person, instructors can reach them using video conferencing.

Online courses

An online course is a type of synchronous distance education program or module which requires participants to be online at the same time; this is most common in web-based training programs on the Internet.

7 Top Distance Education Tools

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is an incredible distance education tool that helps students and teachers organise notes, provide feedback, set reminders, and much more.

Instead of emailing teachers or waiting for classmates to turn in assignments on time, the Classroom lets you post all assignments in a single place where your teacher can direct everyone’s attention with ease.


Coursera is one of the top providers of online classes and online degrees, with free and paid options for students. With tools to help students track their progress, and forums to ask questions when they get stuck, Coursera’s platform is full of features.


Canvas is a powerful learning tool that is open-source, and free to use. Canvas is a tool that works not only with teachers and students, but parents can track their students’ work via this online tool as well.

A handful of other tools are built into the software, so you are able to create quizzes, download assignments directly to student accounts, and have an overall view of each student’s progress via a dashboard.


Edmodo is an education platform that brings teachers, parents, and students together in one network. Create student accounts and assign homework immediately from the app.

See your student’s grades, attendance, and more right on your phone. And track classroom discussions, assignments, announcements, and events in one central location.


Socrative is a top distance education tool that helps teachers monitor their students’ progress.

Get immediate responses on your students’ work to make sure they are keeping up, or let them check-in after some time has passed to keep you updated.


Edpuzzle is a website that lets teachers make summaries, review videos and pair them with quizzes to create engaging lessons.

Edpuzzle will turn any video into a personal lesson by adding your commentary and comprehension questions. Edpuzzle lets teachers distil the best of their lessons and share it with students anywhere.


Loom is an easy tool for recording, narrating, and sharing lectures with students. Teaching and giving a lecture can be tricky, but Loom makes it easy to record a lecture to share with your students.

No more worry with recording expenses or intricate software functions.

What are the Differences Between Distance Education and Regular Education?


In distance education, students can take courses without attending school or college. This type of education is convenient for those who are unable to commute to school or college.

Regular education, on the other hand, requires in-person attendance at a given venue.

Programme Length

In distance education, students are allowed to study at their own pace, they can therefore complete their programme in a shorter period of time. A regular course doesn’t have the advantage of being completed faster.

Technical Access

When studying in regular education, students do not need any technical access to be able to study. They will only have to go to school at the times scheduled for classes.

However, in distance education, there is a requirement for advanced devices and technology.

These include a laptop or desktop computer with high-speed Internet access so that they can gain access to the internet and check their emails regularly.


Distance education tends to be cheaper than traditional learning. For example, the cost of books and other regular education materials are mostly higher than online materials.

Distance education eliminates the need for some of the costs associated with campus-based learning. Teachers and students do not need to spend money on transportation, housing or food on campus.


With education changing daily, the time to embrace distance learning is now.

Now that you know what distance education is, its benefits, its features, and what types of distance education are there, you can determine whether it’s the best choice for you and your student.

Most students find distance learning to be a rewarding and cost-effective way to get a good education without having to go to a regular school.

With the above guide, you can get up to speed quickly and get your students learning from a distance.

Additional Information and FAQs

Is distance education full time?
Time is not an issue for distance education. As a result, a student can hold down a full-time career whilst studying at their leisure.

One of the most fascinating aspects of distance learning is the ability to study part-time. While working full-time, students can conveniently enrol in classes for personal and career advancement.

Is a distance education degree as valid as a regular degree?
Yes. Distance education, like regular education, has accredited programs, learning materials as well as exams administered by universities or colleges.
What is the purpose of distance education?
Distance learning is a new method of education that aims to help students to get educated without having to physically attend college or university.
Are distance education degrees recognised?
Distance education is accredited, but it depends on the programmes offered by the school as well as the location. However, an institution’s accreditation status will make the difference between a recognized or non-recognized degree.
Does distance education have value?
Yes. Although distance education was once thought to be a poor replacement for formal schooling, many today believe it surpasses regular classroom teaching.