Distance Learning

1642 Words4 Pages

Distance Learning

Distance education can trace its roots to 1840 when Sir Isaac Pitman, the English inventor of shorthand, came up with an idea for delivering instruction to a potentially limitless audience: correspondence courses by mail. By the 1900s, the first department of correspondence teaching was established at the University of Chicago. The founding of the United Kingdom’s Open University in 1969 marked a significant development of the newest phase of distance learning involving a mixed-media approach to teaching (Matthews 1999).

Distance education takes place when a teacher and student are separated by physical distance and technology (in the form of print, voice, video and/or data) is used to bridge the instructional gap. (Willis & Dickinson 1997)

Today, in addition to serving the learner who lives far from campus, distance education is aimed at part-time students, time-strapped adults learners, and students trying to work full-time while earning degrees. Virtual classrooms are not aimed at the traditional market of young college people, but disciplined adult learners. The benefits such students reap include: increased access to higher learning, flexible scheduling of personal time, convenient location, individualized attention by the instructor, less travel, and increased time to think about and respond to questions posed by the instructor.

At a cursory glance, distance education appears to be working. With few exceptions, most of the research writings suggest that the learning outcomes of students using technology at a distance are similar to those of students who participate in conventional classroom instruction. The "no significant difference" finding has become accepted as fact. But th...

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Schneider, Alison (1999). AAUP seeks greater faculty role in distance-education. Chronicle of Higher Education, 45(42), p. A34.

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Willis, Barry and Dickinson, John (1997). Distance Education and the World Wide Web. In Khan (ed.), Web-Based Instruction, (pp. 81-84). Englewood Cliffs, NJ; Educational Technology Publications.

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