Distance Learning definition

Distance learning, also known as dlearning or D-Learning, is a method of education that allows students that are geographically dispersed to benefit from structured instruction. Distance learning differs from learning methods that depend on physical presence, such as classroom learning. There may be some requirement to be on-site for part of the distance learning course, for example to take an exam, but in this case the method is often called hybrid or blended learning, although this depends on how much time is spent on-site.

Distance learning was traditionally defined by, for example, courses where materials are delivered by post and learners run through the material in their own time. They then submit work, also via post, which is marked and returned. However, with the explosion of the internet, distance learning is now often conducted online – the technology allows learning to be delivered in a variety of ways, such as video, text and audio. Massive open online courses, also known as MOOCs, are a modern form of distance learning, whereby a significant group of people from across the world take part in the same course, which is structured. Grading often revolves around peer feedback because the number of participants and the cost of the course – it’s generally free to participants – precludes an academic or course tutor from marking everyone’s work.

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