FORMS OF DISTANCE EDUCATION

There are a number of other ways students can study courses via distance education. These include the following delivery mechanisms.

  • Traditional Distance Education (paper-based education)
  • Projects (mentor guided research)
  • Video or audio courses
  • Real Time Conferencing
  • Online
  • E Learning
  • Blended learning.

Traditional Distance Education
This is a paper-based form of education. Traditionally, sufficient quantities of course materials (e.g. study guides, notes or text books) are printed to supply needs over several years. Some traditional correspondence courses have been known to use materials decades after initial printing. In today’s world of rapid change, material can become out of date rapidly, and this traditional approach is generally less than desirable. Other institutions will print notes as required from a data base that can be updated at will.

Provided adequate resources are allocated for maintaining relevance of content, this method can deliver very up-to-date material. If students take too long to complete a course, though, and are working with materials supplied to them a year or more earlier, this system can also have dated content.

Projects (mentor guided research)
This is more commonly used for delivering post graduate courses, and not by all universities.
It involves providing guidelines or instructions for the student, and assigning an academic expert to provide support as they work through a project.
The mentor may have well defined responsibilities, such as “to provide guidance and direction” when called upon, “to monitor progress” and “to record adherence to guidelines provided”.

Video or Audio courses
Audio education has been used to deliver some forms of education, in particular language courses (e.g. Linguaphone and Berlitz) for many decades. Video education though more recent, has still been used extensively over recent decades, if not to supply a complete course, at least in blended learning situations.

Real Time Conferencing
e.g. Short wave radio, telephone hook up, internet chat, video conferencing

 
Online
This involves utilising instruction and information sources that are transmitted via the internet.
Online education can be relatively simple, or very complex.
In its simplest form, documents are simply viewed and read on web sites. These may have text, photographs and illustrations. There may be both information about the subject being studied, as well as instructions to follow, guiding the student through the learning process.
A very simple course may not even contain assignments that need to be submitted. It could be as simple as three steps:
1. Read the notes
2. Answer some questions
3. Go to a different part of the web site to check your answers are correct.
A step up from this may involve automating stage 2 and 3 so that the student can test themselves.
Complex online learning systems are not only more sophisticated in what the student works with; but also incorporate programming to support administration, allowing such things as  the college to track the students work and automatically record progress.

E Learning

This is similar in some ways to online education, though it does not depend upon any type of link between the computer being used, and other computers. Courses are in electronic format, so that text and graphics are viewed on a computer screen. It may also involve video, automated assessments, access to an online library and other support facilities etc.

Blended learning
This involves using two or more different methods of delivery. It may involve on campus studies as well as distance education (e.g. periodic workshops, or some modules such as lab classes which can only be taken on campus).

 

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