Distance Learning: Benefits, Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

Rajiv Shah
Rajiv Shah
April 9, 2022
Distance Learning: Benefits, Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

What is distance learning?

distance learning, also called distance education, e-learning, and online learning, form of education in which the main elements include physical separation of teachers and students during instruction and the use of various technologies to facilitate student-teacher and student-student communication.

Distance learning traditionally has focused on nontraditional students, such as full-time workers, military personnel, and nonresidents or individuals in remote regions who are unable to attend classroom lectures. However, distance learning has become an established part of the educational world, with trends pointing to ongoing growth. 

The Benefits Of Distance Learning

As mentioned above, students can study from universities around the world, even if they are not able to travel to their preferred program. This allows top universities to be available to students who would not otherwise be able to attend due to distance, finances, or other circumstances.

Distance learning is extremely important for those who cannot attend programs due to health complications, severe social anxiety, busy work schedules or parenting demands, or any other situations which make it necessary to be confined to the home.

Online programs, such as University of the People, cater to students who prefer or need distance education. UoPeople is a tuition-free nonprofit institution, making it an affordable and sustainable option for students worldwide. In addition to being affordable, University of the People employs academic leadership from renowned universities around the world, allowing equal opportunity for students to access quality education.

UoPeople provides distance education for students who may have physical or health restrictions, those who live in remote areas, or those who cannot otherwise attend school due to late work hours or raising a family. This provides an equal opportunity for people to access higher education despite restrictions or location.

How does distance learning work?

There are different types of distance learning available. Nonetheless, instructors send all information to students over the internet.

This information may come in the form of: 

  • Online textbooks
  • Screen-recorded videos using tools like Snagit and Camtasia
  • Voice-over slideshow presentations
  • Scheduled chats between students and the instructor

What are the disadvantages of distance learning?

The benefits of distance learning are clear, but there are some warnings when it comes to this learning approach, too.

Let’s consider some of the disadvantages. For one, students face a higher risk of online distraction. Without face-to-face meetings, students can lose track of deadlines and motivation.

Students who work well on their own may easily surmount these obstacles. Students who have trouble prioritizing may stumble. So will those who lack organizational and scheduling skills. 

Distance learning comes with hidden student costs, too. These expenses include:

  • Gaining access to a reliable computer
  • Having an internet connection
  • Buying a web camera (in some instances)
  • Computer maintenance
  • Utilities (e.g., electricity for internet services)

The future of distance learning

Most professors aren’t confident they can make online learning as effective as their face-to-face courses. 

But if you’re cramming traditional teaching methods into your online courses, your students’ success (and your evaluations) will suffer.

We want you to be successful teaching online. And engaging your students with video is the best way to do that.  

We understand that teaching online can be intimidating. And we’ve helped thousands of professors across the country easily create video content for more effective courses.

Types Of Distance Learning

1. Online courses

Online courses are usually offered as additional classes in traditional degrees. As long as students have computer and internet access, they can learn and receive instruction at home.

2. Hybrid courses

Hybrid courses combine traditional classroom settings with online learning at home. This can mean that students learn individually at home and meet up for in-person instructions or lectures at certain intervals during the course. The amount of at-home learning and in-class learning varies for each hybrid course.

3. Conference classes

Conferencing allows students and teachers to meet up for class in real time, whether in a group or one-on-one with an instructor. Using the phone or video chatting, such as Skype, students and teachers can engage in live lessons despite distance.

4. Correspondence courses

Correspondence courses consist of students engaging in class material via mail or email. Students receive material and assignments through mail, and they send completed assignments back through the same method.

Hybrid distance education

Hybrid distance education combines synchronous and asynchronous methods. Students receive deadlines to complete assignments and exams. Then, they work at their own pace.

They submit assignments through online forums. They maintain contact with their instructor. Yet, they work at their own pace. As students progress, they gain access to new modules. 

Video conferencing

Video conferencing is traditionally a meeting where two or more participants use video to connect over the internet. This is a form of synchronous communication.

Using tools like Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, Adobe Connect, or other conferencing software, teachers and students interact together no matter where they are located. 

Video conferencing enhances student-instructor interactions and provides a structure for lesson planning. It remains a vital component of distance learning.

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