``Distance Education is an
excellent option for a great many
busy Americans who have a work life and a family life..."
- Lamar Alexander, former U.S. Secretary of Education
Distance Education is instructional delivery that does not constrain the
student to be physically present in the same location as the instructor.
Historically, Distance Education meant correspondence study. Today, audio,
video, and computer technologies are more common delivery modes.
The term Distance Learning is often interchanged with Distance Education.
However, this is inaccurate since institutions/instructors control educational
delivery while the student is responsible for learning. In other words,
Distance Learning is the result of Distance Education.
Another term that has experienced some recent popularity is Distributed
Education. This term may represent the trend to utilize a mix of delivery
modes for optimal instruction and learning.
The Distance Learning Resource Network (DLRN), located at WestEd, is the
dissemination project for the U.S. Department of Education Star Schools
DISTANCE LEARNING FACT SHEET:
Distance learning is the application of technology ofelectronic means to
education in all areas: K through 12Higher Education, Continuing
Education, Corporate Training, and Military and Government Trainitelemedicine
and those devoted to the pursuit of life long learning.
Effectiveness studies have been quite consistent in showing that when used
in business, military training, and adult learning, there is no significant
difference in effectiveness between distance learning and traditional instruction
methods, and student attitudes are generally positive about the experience
Providing courses for underserved or advanced students is the principal
application of distance learning for K-12 education. However, it is being
used for rural and inner city classes, enrichment, staff development and
in-service training for teachers and administrators.
In higher education, distance learning is providing undergraduate and advanced
degrees to students in offices, at community colleges and at various receive
sites. Students for whom convenience may be a crucial factor in receiving
college credit are earning degrees by satellite, audio, or on-line computer.
Faced with retraining 50 million American workers, corporate
America is using distance learning for all aspects of training both internally
Many major corporations such as Hewlett-Packard save millions of dollars
each year using distance learning to train employees more effectively and
more efficiently than with conventional methods.
Programming for distance learning provides the receiver many technical
and content options.
Educational materials are delivered primarily through live and interactive
classes where the intent is not necessarily to replicate face-to-face
instruction. Interactivity is accomplished via telephone (one-way video
and two-way audio), two-way video or graphics interactivity, two-way computer
hookups, or response terminals.
Technology offers many options for delivering and receiving education over
a distance. The ability of the teacher and students to see each other may
not be a necessary condition for effective distance learning, but audio
can be a critical component for interactivity.
Teaching strategies based on computer applications are emerging that also
Research in effectiveness is limited in K-12 applications, but existing
research, project evaluation, and anecdotal evidence strongly suggest
that distance education is an effective means for delivering instruction
just as it has been proven effective in adult learning and training settings.
Paying for distance education systems can be done through issuing bonds
to cover construction costs; legislation to install satellite dishes on
every school in the state; state, national and Federal grant programs
for local projects; and various other taxes and levies.
Telecommunications systems that serve education can also benefit
the community at large. In rural areas especially, telecommunications
systems and services are tied increasingly to economic development and
community survival. New uses include the application of information
and educational resources for K-12 students, adults, senior citizens, local
governments and organization, and business.
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