Distance education or long-distance learning is the education of students who may not always be physically present at a school.Traditionally, this usually involvedcorrespondence courses wherein the student corresponded with the school via post. Today it involves online education. Courses that are conducted (51 percent or more)are either hybrids blended or 100% distance learning. Massive open online courses(MOOCs), offering large-scale interactive participation and open access through the World Wide Web or other network technologies, are recent developments in distance education.A number of other terms (distributed learning, e-learning, online learning, virtual classroom etc.) are used roughly synonymously with distance education.
The regular technical school or college aims to educate a man broadly; our aim, on the contrary, is to educate him only along some particular line. The college demands that a student shall have certain educational qualifications to enter it and that all students study for approximately the same length of time; when they have finished their courses they are supposed to be qualified to enter any one of a number of branches in some particular profession. We, on the contrary, are aiming to make our courses fit the particular needs of the student who takes them.
The first distance education course in the modern sense was provided by Sir Isaac Pitman in the 1840s, who taught a system of shorthand by mailing texts transcribed into shorthand on postcards and receiving transcriptions from his students in return for correction. The element of student feedback was a crucial innovation of Pitman's system. This scheme was made possible by the introduction of uniforms postcard rates across England in 1840.
This early beginning proved extremely successful, and the Phonographic Correspondence Society was founded three years later to establish these courses on a more formal basis. The Society paved the way for the later formation of Sir Isaac Pitman Colleges across the country.
The first correspondence school in the United States was the Society to Enchourage studies at Home, which was founded in 1873.
In synchronous learning, all participants are "present" at the same time. In this regard, it resembles traditional classroom teaching methods despite the participants being located remotely. It requires a timetable to be organized. Web conferencing,videoconferencing, educational television, instructional television are examples of synchronous technology, as are direct-broadcast satellite (DBS), internet radio, live streaming, telephone, and web-basedVoIP.Web conferencing software helps to facilitate meetings in distance learning courses and usually contain additional interaction tools such as text chat, polls, hand raising, emoticons etc. These tools also support asynchronous participation by students being able to listen to recordings of synchronous sessions. Immersive environments (notably SecondLife) have also been used to enhance participant presence in distance education courses. Another form of synchronous learning that has been entering the classroom over the last couple of years is the use of robot proxies including those that allow sick students to attend classes.