So, what is Distance Education?
Are you wondering what exactly is “Distance Education?” Maybe you think it is a math class just focused on the subject of “Distance.” Could this really exist? A class that would completely built around educating an individual on the distance between two points or locations. If that was the case then, you are in for a complete surprise. Distance education, also known as distance learning, is a form of education that looks at the techniques and technology that educators have at their disposal to provide education to individuals, that otherwise would not receive any form of standard education.
Students and teachers that take part in this form of education don’t have the benefit of conforming to a standard classroom or university setting. Learning environments range from one-on-one lesson plans/sessions and even students not physically being in the educational arena due to time or distance issues. Thus the origin of the term, “Distance Education” in the global community.
Technology plays a tremendous role in distance education and is possibly the most important educational tool in the box. Technology has created two forms of learning experience students can choose to interact with. Those two being synchronous learning and asynchronous learning. Synchronous learning is when students are “present,” at the time of the lesson. They are not physically there with the instructor but are following the lesson play through technology like web cameras, internet radio, live streaming video, VoIP (Voice of Internet Protocol,) and even the conventional telephone. Asynchronous learning is when students are not “present” at moment of the lesson. Those students receive and send course materials whenever they get a chance. This is a very flexible form of distance education. Lesson plans and assignments are usually communicated through message boards, e-mails, and the traditional local mail service.
There are many benefits that distance education has created not only for the world but also the whole educational community. First off, it has obviously granted access to education to a larger population of the world that otherwise would not ever even pick up a book. Second, due to the face that distance education does not require a physical building to house teachers and students it has helped with large and crowded classrooms. Distance education has also been a great solution not only for educational institutions to generate income but also provide higher education to graduates that want to enhance their education. Institutions that provide courses for working professionals, that don’t have time anymore to follow the conventional path of education, can now make school “work” around their jobs. Another benefit is that disabled, handicapped, or ill individuals finally have a chance to take part in education. Finally the greatest benefit of all is simply the fact that it provides an equal opportunity for education no matter who, when, or where someone may be.