In the past decade, distance learning has become an increasingly popular way for training providers to provide access to their programs and for students to learn about and become qualified in subjects that they might not otherwise be able to pursue. Training providers are using the potential of distance learning to teach students from all around the globe, allowing them to work on their chosen qualification and to achieve educational enrichment.
So just what is distance learning?
Distance learning occurs when there is a separation between the assessor or tutor and the student, usually due to geographical or time concerns that prevent the student from attending an on-site course. This gap is often bridged by the use of electronic means, such as computers, as well as making use of tele-conferencing, web-cams and Skype. The majority of distance learning today takes place using the Internet, now readily accessible for the vast majority of students whether in their own homes or at work. These electronic means can be used to distribute the learning material, keep students in touch with assessors or tutors and allow access for communication between students.
Of course, distance learning can use other technological formats as well including television, DVDs, teleconferencing, and printable material, but the immediacy and functionality of Web learning has made it a first choice for many distance learners. Online programs often take advantage of a number of emerging technologies to make keeping in touch and effectively communicating ideas easier and more efficient than ever before and students may find themselves using interactive videos, e-mail, and discussion boards to complete their lessons.
Distance learning makes it much easier for some students to complete a qualification while balancing work and family commitments. Because the hours when class work can be completed are flexible, many students can complete their work during times when they are free, rather than scheduling their lives around a set classroom time.
Not only is distance learning advantageous to the student but also many businesses have found it a valuable tool in making employee education and training quicker and more cost efficient.