Distance learning is defined as a program or course offered by a university or school that provides educational opportunities and is to be completed remotely.
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Other terms defining distance learning include online learning, E-learning and distance education. In the modern world, majority of distant learning are conducted online by accessing a computer equipped with the internet services. In spite of this distance learning being a broad term, it also involves traditional correspondence courses that are completed through the mail (wiseGEEK, 2010).
Factors affecting distance learning
Accessibility: Technology is a vital element in distant learning. The accessibility of the distance learning courses mainly depend on the awareness of the instructor to the accessibility issues and how the instructor can best handle the course with consideration of accessibility (Cook and Harniss, 2007). Difficulties in accessibility arise when the distance learning concerns people with disabilities e.g. the blind. Moreover, physical accessibility is successfully tackled by distance learning where one does not need to go to class for a lecture (college guide, 2010).
Opportunities: Opportunities unveiled by the distance learning are numerous. Apart from completing 100% of the course via the internet, one can attain knowledge and skills for field choices from the distance learning due to constant updating of the programs (Lloyd, 2007). in addition, opportunities provided by distance learning are not equal after all mainly due to lack of consideration of the disabled people by the educational institutions while selecting features of courseware packages that will suit their instructors and students (Cook and Harniss, 2007).
Barriers: Tipton (2007) cites Language and time differences as the main barriers, which affect the distance learning. This is because the internet has made the world a global neighborhood.
Advantages of distance learning
There are a number of merits associated with distance learning. First, there is no commuting, which means that the distance learning saves time and resources that can otherwise be put into better use. Second, in distance learning majority of the classes are asynchronous; that means it is not compulsory for one to attend a lecture at a stipulated time (college guide, 2010). Third, there is self-paced learning whereby, fast and slow learners are both considered in distance learning, where one can study at a convenient pace (college guide, 2010).
Disadvantages of distance learning
Despite gaining popularity in modern times, distance learning is constrained the following factors among others. First, the program is relatively complex and costly whereby, the program is facilitated by modern technical facilities, which are usually costly (college guide, 2010).
Second, there is social isolation whereby, majority of the students undertake the distance learning individually, thus making them feel isolated from the rest of the society (college guide, 2010).
The gap between “Haves” and “have nots”
In one way or the other, distance learning has contributed to increasing the gap between the “haves” and “have nots”. The high cost involved in enrolling and undertaking the distance learning discriminates the “have nots” from enrolling in the distance learning courses. In addition to this, the modern equipments used in distance learning may not be affordable to all, thus increasing the gap.
Despite the barriers and the disadvantages associated with distance learning, the world has embraced distance learning as one of the major component in the modern education system. Advancement of technology has also aided in advancing distance learning globally.
Cook, D., Harniss, M. (2007). Accessibility and distance learning: An overview. Web.
College guide. (2010). Advantage and disadvantage of distance learning. Web.
Lloyd, B. C. (2007). Distance learning. Web.
Tipton, J. (2007). What’s The Difference between Distance Learning and American Public Schools? Web.
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WiseGEEK. (2010). What is distance learning. Web.