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Methods for Distance Learning
The concept of What is old is new again, seems to ring true, especially when it comes to processes involving the use of information technology. Historically, certain processes required the physical on-site presence of an individual to be completed. The following are just a few examples of how lives have been simplified because of the change in delivery method:
Online Shopping in lieu of mail order catalogs
Video streaming services in lieu of video rental stores
Craigslist and eBay in lieu of newspaper or magazine classified ads
Travel websites in lieu of travel agencies
Wikipedia in lieu of an encyclopedia
Search engines in lieu of library microfiche
Text messages in lieu of telegrams
News aggregators in lieu of newspapers
Distance (online) learning in lieu of correspondence courses
Although it may seem relatively new, distance learning (DL) has been around for centuries. The delivery method for DL has changed from a dependency on postal services and satellite campuses to communicating with classmates in real time and worldwide through the touch of their fingertips.
It is not too surprising that the naming conventions vary depending on the means by which education is delivered, i.e., from classroom instruction to correspondence courses to distance (online) learning. There are a variety of labels used to describe DL processes today, including the following:
Synchronous Distance Learning is real-time DL, whether in a classroom or virtual, through live communication.
Asynchronous Distance Learning is learning performed at your own pace but guided by a designated schedule that ensures the course will be completed on time.
Broadcasting Courses are courses that use television or radio as a means to broadcast lessons in correlation with face-to-face and independent learning.
Teleconferences and Videoconferences are used in DL for collaborating with fellow students and making presentations and as a means to view live lectures.
Hybrid Distance Learning (aka blended learning) is independent DL in which lessons and learning activities are performed online. Typically, no classroom instruction is required unless the degree program requires a student to attend an annual face-to-face residency of some sort.
e-Learning is technology-supported learning (TSL) utilizing various forms of computer technology tools to provide communication and collaboration with classmates and instructors.
m-Learning is technology-supported learning via mobile devices; it is a process similar to e-Learning.
Despite the delivery methods used and associated labels provided, they all fall under the family of distance (online) learning, and as technology continues to evolve, so will the list of methodologies available for an online DL education. The key to making your learning experience a positive one is to use the method of delivery that best suits your lifestyle.
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