Distance Learning – Earning a Degree at Home
In the mid-19th century America, educators used the postal system to impart knowledge to people
who could not attend traditional schools for a variety of reasons. This was the beginning of
distance education and it was delivered through the exchange of print-based study material.
Those who benefited most from it were students with physical disabilities, people with jobs that
made it difficult for them to attend school during work hours, or those who lived in far-flung areas
that didn’t have proper schools.
Cut to the present – students who now enroll in distance learning courses belong to a much wider
demographic base. However, there are some typical factors that distinguish distance learning
students from those who attend on-campus programs. The former are generally older and most of
them juggle their education with other commitments like jobs or family responsibilities.
Distance education itself has also evolved a great deal over the last two centuries. Technological
advancement is one of the biggest factors contributing to this change. The way distance
education is disbursed has altered beyond imagination and with it has come vast improvement in
the quality of distance learning courses and a change in public perception about them.
Technology & Education
Although distance education has always used the prevalent communication technologies of the
time to reach students, never has the use been so widespread and effective as it has been with
the advent of the World Wide Web.
Only Internet has made it possible for students to attend lectures sitting at home in front of their
PCs via video-conferencing. It has thrown up novel ways of classroom interaction – from online
discussion boards and chat rooms for students to participate in group discussions to bulletin
boards and forums where they can post their queries or answer questions posed by instructors.
While some online distance education courses require students to spend a p