Distance learning can be defined as,

“A mode of education, usually college or university level academics, that allows students to work at from home or work at their own pace while keeping in touch with the instructor via video conferencing, chat applications, discussion forums, email and instant messaging”.

Distance learning programs typically include online writing courses, language learning, and online degree programs.
Types of Distance Learning Programs

Knowing how does distance learning work & the various options that it offers enable students to choose the alternative which best fits their needs, routine & lifestyle.
Levels in Distance Learning Education

Distance learning schools
Distance learning colleges
Distance learning summer programs

Types of Online Courses


Mediums of Instruction and Education
Virtual Classrooms

As the name suggests in itself, a virtual classroom environment is created through the implementation of CBT (Computer-Based Training). These virtual classrooms allow fellow students to interact with each other through online chat, instant messaging or leave messages for one another to follow-up on discussion forums
Televised Courses Through Online Lectures

A lesser interactive mode is lectures that are delivered through the television. These lectures can be either delivered live or be pre-recorded. Video copies of the lecture are usually available at the college/university library for future referencing.
Online Documents (Word, Excel, PDF, PPT)

In some cases, students who sign-up for distance learning courses are provided with a course outline. The outline (usually) has an online link written on it which leads to a web portal. The student signs-in and is able to access documents in either .doc (MS Word) or .pdf (Adobe) formats for their reading. In addition to online documents, a list of prescribed reading material is also provided to students at the time of registration. The outline also mentions quiz, assignment & examination dates.

With both the last 2 examples of distance learning, students must pace & plan their daily study schedule by themselves as (normally) no instructor is instantly available for coaching.
Difference Between Distance Learning and Traditional Learning

Contrary to the mode of traditional learning, distance learning education calls for enhanced commitment and dedication at the end of course enrollers and students.

Individuals who are self organized and good time managers can benefit the most out of such programs as the medium primarily relies on self regulation and responsibility.

Advantages of Distance Learning
Benefits for the Learners
Time Constraints are Met Effectively

One of the primary advantages of distance learning is that it overcomes time-constraints that bind individuals due to various factors.
Second Chance at Academia

Individuals who could not or did not perform well during/till high school get a second chance in life to attain better academic credentials & standing. The opportunity opens the doors to better career prospects even at later ages in life.
Simultaneous Handling of Personal Commitments

Individuals bound or restricted by personal factors such as physical disabilities, living in remote areas, or the burdens of single parenthood can make use of this academic medium and get diplomas or degrees in their preferred field of study despite the personal responsibilities they are faced with.
Benefits for the Programs Organizers & Institutes
Additional Credibility

At a commercial level, institutions benefit both in monetary terms & with regards to winning favorable reputations/goodwill from the populace.
Cost Effectiveness

It reduces and (at times) eliminates the need for a physical structure to be constructed; this, reducing the fixed expense cost factor.

It makes studying cost effective for the students as well since they don’t need to spend resources such as time while stuck in traffic jams and money either on fuel (if they have their own vehicle) or on purchasing tickets (in case they make use of a public transportation facility).
Signing Up for Distance Learning Programs and Classes

With all the above provided details, what is distance learning becomes quite clear. In addition to just the question, it also becomes evident that with such benefits & flexibility associated with it, distance education will always remain popular among aspiring scholars & students. The whole concept of distance learning is based on a model that benefits all parties involved in one way or the other.

Author's Bio: 

Ozzy Mirza has contributed this article. Visit www.learnalearning.com to learn more about distance learning.