The Benefits and Future of Distance Education

871 Words2 Pages

The Benefits and Future of Distance Education

What is Distance Education?

Education has traditionally consisted of a student or group of students receiving instruction from a teacher; with everyone involved in one location. Distance education is changing the way instruction happens today. Distance education is "the acquisition of knowledge and/or skills wherein time and/or space separates the learner and provider" (McMahan 4). Distance education in its most basic sense happens when student(s) are in one location and the teacher(s) are in another location. In traditional education students use textbooks, listen to lectures, and use other locally available resources. In distance education students use a variety of technological resources (that is, interactive video, television, computers, and even audio and video cassettes). Distance education changes the practice of the student coming to the teacher. It gives students and teachers more flexibility and options concerning when and how to study and teach. Distance education "has provided students with more opportunities to participate in a richer, broader educational experience" (Kessler and Keefe 44) by crossing city, state, and international borders.

Where Did Distance Education Come From?

"Although the term distance education is of recent coinage, the concept of learning at a distance is not new at all" (Neal 40). Distance education has been around in many forms for hundreds of years.

"Almost anyone who has received any formal education has at some time engaged in distance learning. The oldest and most common form of distance learning is probably homework. The teacher constructs a learning activity that can be accomplished without the presence of the teacher, and the student completes it independently, or with the assistance of someone other than the teacher" (Davey 44).

Correspondence courses were the earliest form of distance education courses. "This was the accepted norm until the middle of the century, when instructional radio and television became popular" (Sherry 337). In the past, use of distance education was not widespread because the equipment was costly and difficult to use. Distance education was also a new and unknown field and our society tends to shy away from the new and unknown. The technologies currently being utilized in connection with distance education are now easier to use and are commonly available. The costs have also become more affordable, making distance education more available. The fast paced hectic life of the 20th century also makes distance learning more desirable.

Open Document