Distance Learning (Distance Education)


The term distance learning refers to a process that allows students to earn course credits at off-campus locations.  Distance learning can be delivered over the Internet, through cable television, using video tapes, as well as other electronic means.


Also known as distance education, distance learning is a way of delivering instructions to students that are not physically located in a classroom setting.  These programs allow students to learn from teachers even if they're separated by great distances.  Students may also receive college credits for participating in these programs.

The distance education model has its traditional focus on content delivery or correspondence, and emphasis on independent learning.  Lectures are delivered electronically using a variety of communication channels such as the Internet or even through video tapes.  Students have the ability to learn at their own pace, and are oftentimes able to communicate with their teachers directly or through a virtual community of student participants.

Colleges and universities may offer students the ability to take courses using their computer, smartphone, or tablet.  These programs are usually offered during the school's normal academic calendar, which includes both fall and spring semesters.  This process allows students to view weekly lecture videos at a convenient time and place.  Some programs are more structured, and permit students to log into a virtual classroom, with the ability to interact with the professor in real time.

Hybrid distance learning combines on campus sessions with web conferences or video lectures.  These types of programs can provide a student with the opportunity to receive on-campus course credits.

Related Terms

entrance counseling, adult education program, apprenticeship, Career and Technical Education, concurrent enrollment, deferred admission, early action, early decision