Online and distance education, also called online distance learning, has grown by leaps and bounds as the Internet and bandwidth become more accessible. In many ways, this paved the path for elearning as we know it today. These medium of instruction leaves the online learner with more options for flexibility. Many accredited colleges and schools in the US offer programs in a variety of areas, whether it is bachelors and undergraduate, and graduate (masters, doctoral/PhD, professional degrees) Distance Learning and e-Learning Technology Degrees Online are offered by leading accredited universities.
An Overview of Online and Distance Education
Distance learning is not a new experience although online distance education is a more recent and evolving phenomena. Distance learning has been a method of teaching and learning for many individuals for at least one hundred years, starting with correspondence learning via postal mail (Moore & Kearsley, 1996). Online degree courses and e-learning utilizes multiple resources and multimedia components for learners anywhere at anytime.
The advent of information and communication technology (ICT) and e-learning have blurred the boundaries of distance education and traditional education (Garrison & Shale, 1987). Distance education has evolved in accordance with the trends and changes in conventional education for online degree classes.
Technological innovations like cable, satellite, computers, and fiber optics have increased the scope of distance education. As the radio was added to the conventional lecture approach, distance education integrated audiovisual components as well.
Online and e-learning degrees are available in a variety of areas:
- Online Business Administration and MBA Degree Programs
- Online Education Degree Programs
- Nursing Degrees
- Computers and Information Technology Degrees
- Health & Medicine Degrees
Presently, distance learning uses emerging technologies such as e-learning to enhance traditional education. For example satellite links, computers, telephone and Internet conferencing, two-way interactive video and the Internet. As a result, the distance learner can now have almost the same instructional contact and interaction as the student on campus. The introduction of live two-way audio and video communications means that face-to-face interaction and interpersonal communication can be combined at the same time when teaching at a distance.
The terms “distance learning” and “distance education” have been applied by many different researchers interchangeably to a great variety of programs, providers, audience, and media. Programs are available at all levels including:
- Associate Degrees
- Bachelor Degrees
- Masters Degrees
- Doctorate Degrees
In these online degree study programs, teaching and learning occur when the written and printed word, the computer, or telephone-conferencing are used to bridge the physical gap (Garrison & Shale, 1987). In other words, it is a process that utilizes various technologies to overcome separation of the teacher and the student. Distance learning is also characterized by the discretionary control of the learning process by the learners rather than the distant teacher, and the non-contacting communication between the learner and the instructor, mediated by some form of technology or print.
For geographically separated groups of learners, Internet-based (online) instruction can be more appealing than traditional face-to-face learning. Distance learning not only adds technology to instruction; it utilizes technology to advance potentially new approaches to the teaching and learning process.
It is a phenomenon that has changed the learning relationship. It has shifted the focus from the common, centralized school model to a decentralized and flexible model. The process had reversed the dynamics of conventional education. Instead of bringing students to school, it brings the school to the students. Online degree requirements do however vary by college or program.
Garrison, D.R., & Shale, D. (1987). Mapping the boundaries of distance education: Problems in defining the field. The American Journal of Distance Education, 1(1), 7-17.
Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Before proceeding with online distance education e-learning degree programs, it is important to examine some important points, such as: 1) The advantages and disadvantages of online distance education; 2) The types of learners who are successful in online distance education programs; and 3) Locating credible and accredited programs. This will help you avoid diploma mills.
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