Distance learning has evolved throughout the decades. When I went to school, I thought that distance learning was barely being introduced and the technology wasn’t nearly as advanced as it is today. In the school setting, distance learning was a tool used to communicate to remote areas. They placed a big screen television with a camera in the front of the classroom, and if we were lucky, other students from the district would tune in and we could all watch a demonstration live. Many people are under the impression that distance learning only deals in the education atmosphere, which is not true at all.
Due to advances in technology, distance learning has come a very long way and keeps advancing as new technologies are brought to light. Distance learning is a form of communication where the teacher and the student do not meet in a face to face classroom but rather online.
Distance education has gone through several stages of development.
Taylor (1999) has proposed five generations of distance education:
- correspondence education;
- integrated use of multiple, one-way media such as print, broadcasting or recorded media such as video-cassettes;
- two-way, synchronous tele-learning using audio or video-conferencing;
- flexible learning based on asynchronous online learning combined with online interactive multimedia;
- intelligent flexible learning, which adds a high degree of automation and student control to asynchronous online learning and interactive multimedia.
The progression through these stages of development has been driven mainly by changes in technology and educational theory.
Throughout the past week, I’ve learned that there are four characteristics of Distance Learning (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015):
- It’s carried out through institutions
- Geographic separation and time separate students and teachers.
- Interactive telecommunications, electronic communication created the interaction between learners and teachers.
- It established a learning community.
Distance learning has become a method of learning (studying), in which the lectures are conducted over an online connection, without the student or employee having to be present in a face to face environment.
The future of Distance learning is held in the demands of the consumers. Many have turned to Web 2.0 tools to learn how to do many things from cooking to building a house. It will remove barriers from learning and technology will continue to be the critical element in Distance Learning.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of
Taylor, J. C. (1999). Distance education: the fifth-generation proceedings of the 19th ICDE world
conference on open learning and distance education, Vienna, Austria
What Is Distance Education? (2008, July 7). Retrieved January 13, 2017, from