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A Guide to How Distance Learning Works

Aug 17, 2007
For those who are new to distance learning, it is imperative to understand how distance learning works. With the onset of the technological revolution, the sphere of distance learning has earned an unprecedented advancement. Where earlier, distance learning meant course material being sent to the student through the mail, today students can interact with teachers and fellow students through mediums like web-cams on the internet.

Interacting Asynchronously, but Feeling in Sync

As opposed to a traditional classroom atmosphere where student and teacher interact in real time, in distance learning the interface is asynchronous, since the student and teacher are separated physically. Instead of sticking to a water-tight schedule, virtual learning allows students to choose a time best suited to them for attending classes, in other words asynchronous classes. Some courses even allow recording of interactions and instructional proceedings that have occurred earlier for later review by any student. How distance learning works effectively is measured by the amount of comfort that exits between student and instructor. Prompt feedback and personal interest in the student's progress is a prerequisite from the instructor and at the same time a student is required to be pro-active in asking questions and raising doubts. Healthy dialogue and group discussions are the best ways to learn in a virtual classroom.

How Does Course Material get Transmitted

Some online courses have scheduled chats between students and teachers to enable one-on-one interaction between them, and give them a feel of real-time contact. Most of the colleges design student friendly course structures, since the aim of distance learning is to reach out to people who cannot follow the traditional methods of education. For example, at University of Phoenix Online, classes mostly last for 5-6 weeks and the mood for a particular week is set by the professor who lists topics to be discussed and assignments to be prepared. This is followed by the professor posting his lecture and discussion topics. The students then work on their assignments and reference work, as well as participate in online discussions with fellow students. The assignments are sent to the teacher via email, and he in turn grades them and returns them with comments. How distance learning works efficiently is dependent upon how best the students and teachers use the technology being provided to them.

Here we have taken a look at how distance learning works, since it is vital for any student to understand the basics of how a course functions before getting involved in one.
About the Author
Jim Zorn is web master of the Guide to Distance Learning. Please visit to learn more about online colleges and universities, distance learning degrees, majors and courses offered.
http://www.guide-to-distance-learning.com/index.html
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