Distance Learning


Prior Definition of Distance Learning

I learned about distance learning when I started my career in higher education in 2003. Before this time I thought distance learning was a correspondence study for the student to be able to complete a high school diploma or for a technical career like data entry. In college, I did an independent study in which I meet with the instructor once or twice a week. So, my thought was that this was moved to electronic correspondence where the student will email the information instead of meeting them face to face. However, when I started working in higher education, I learned more and decided to start my Master’s degree online. Since then I have only taken online classes; first for an MBA degree and now for Instructional design.

So before this course, I think I have defined distance learning as an opportunity for working professionals to continue their career education by internet from anywhere and at any time. In the past, I viewed distance education as self-study where the instructor will provide assignments for you to complete at your own pace and you will submit them by correspondence whether through snail mail or electronically.   Further, I would probably say that my prior definition only applied to students trying to get a GED or for higher education self-study opportunity.

As a freshman college student my first view or experience with “distance education” was an independent study class. The instructor will provide me with the guided reading, and I will complete assignments and send them by email. Also, I will meet with the instructor to take any test. I took several independent courses because it provided me with flexibility and I felt I was getting individualize attention and interaction with the instructor. To me, they were more efficient than the once I took in the classroom. According to Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek (2012), “The day is coming when the work done by correspondence will be greater in amount than that done in the classrooms of our academies and colleges”.

New Perspectives

Distance education has been defined as an institution based education, where groups of learners are separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect students with resources and instructors. (Simonson et. al. (2012). It is also important to understand the four characteristics that distinguish distance education. Distance education is carried out by institutions; they are not self-study or nonacademic learning environment. There’s geographic separation and interactive telecommunications connect the learning group with each other and the teacher. (Simonson et. al. p. 31 (2012). It establishes a learning community which is composed of students, teacher, and instructional resources. (Simonson et. al. (2012). “Distance education uses technology to mediate the necessary two -way communication”. (Simonson et. al. p. 35(2012). Moreover, interaction can happen synchronous or asynchronous, but it must be two-way even though there’s physical separation between learners and the teacher

New definition

After reading chapter 1 of this week reading, my new definition of distance education is an institution based formal academic education of individuals within an accredited organization which learners are physically separated from the teacher. Learning occurs from anywhere and anytime by interacting, collaborating and sharing information/knowledge with each other via web-based tools. The original target group of distance education was busy professionals with social and family commitment, and this remains the primary target group today, although it has been adopted by K-12 and training and development because it provides the individuality of learning, flexibility in both time and place. I think distance education will continue to grow as new technologies are emerging, it will become the biggest form of education and training because technology and globalization is reshaping the learning styles for students, corporate and K-12.


Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C., (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implication for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K-12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63-67. Academic Search Complete database.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implication for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70-75. Academic Search Complete database.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.


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