Is there any Difference between Online Education and Distance Learning?

Published: 14th May 2010
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Do you wish to find a school near you for an online program? If you know the subject area you want, use the search form below to find the school or program most suitable for you. Or are you wanting to find out about online learning programs in a particular discipline, or about college admission, or financing for your studies, or free education? Are you a student wanting to know more about what distance learning is all about? Or how new ICTs are changing classroom education? This section of the web site tries to help you find some answers.



There are reasons behind everyone asking about distance education and online learning. In these difficult financial times, there has been a massive increase in the number of learners wanting to know more about online learning & distance learning. Not only is learning online usually more affordable, it is also more convenient for these distance education learners. But one of the good things about online learning is that it is not only used in distance education programs - it is also used for campus-based programs.



There are certain differences between online learning and distance education. Distance education has been a method of learning for individuals wanting to study at home for at least one hundred years, starting with correspondence learning (home study) via postal mail. With the greater use of computers and the Internet, it is now possible to offer distance education programs using only the online modality. In fact, distance education programs in the US and Canada use online learning so much, that for many people distance education is thought to be only about online learning. But in reality, not all distance education programs are offered totally online. In fact, many distance education programs use a mix of modalities in that they also refer the learner to physical books. However, even these are increasingly available online. In many developing countries where the availability of computers and access to the Internet cannot be assumed, distance education very often still uses a mix of hard-copy study guides, books and attendance at weekend classes. There are many initiatives to try to change the problems of access to ICT, e.g., "One Laptop per Child (OLPC)", so that those countries can also reap the benefits of using ICT in learning.



New information and communication technology (ICT) has made online learning or e-learning possible, in which learners can participate in interactive learning using audio and video-conferencing, email, chat and computer-conferencing. The distance learner can now have almost the same instructional contact and interaction as the student on campus. This is why distance learners want to know more about online learning programs. But online learning is not just the province of distance education. It is also used in campus-based education. The on-campus student can now have another modality to use in addition to the lecture and tutorial. So on-campus students and teachers also need to know more about online learning.



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