Distance education, or “distributed learning,” (Stella and Gnanam 143) is a method of teaching and learning that caters to the needs of individual learners through time and place flexibility. Also referred to as ‘e-learning,’ distance education distributes education to students through the use of advanced technology. It reaches out to the non-traditional student, for example, those who are unable to physically attend classes due to other responsibilities. This increases the educational range to reach across various types of students. Distance education is made available to students through the use of the Internet. This use of technology “bridge[s] the instructional gap” (Lease and Brown 415) between teacher and non-traditional student and allows for better communication and easier transfer of assignments.
The term “distributed learning” comes from the idea of decreasing the gap between on- and off-campus students (Stella and Gnanam 143). What should the student who has the luxury of attending class be the only one who is able to benefit from learning? Distributed learning focuses on the separation of students in the classroom and students not in the classroom and how the latter can still be in contact with the professor and course material. Communication becomes the significant factor of distributed learning that enables a variety of learners to connect to different learning resources via a facet of the Internet (see CONCEPT MAP).
Distance education enhances educational opportunities by increasing the number of students with access to course material. Learners no longer have to physically be in a classroom in order to receive and learn information. This resource offers teachers and students a convenient means of communication, in addition to greater accessibility of resources.
[This video comments on the rapidly increasing use of technology and the impact it has, and will have, on society. It does not specifically talk about education, but it considers the immense utilization of computers, mobile devices and most importantly, the convenience of the Internet.]