Difference Between Distance Learning and Online Learning

Distance Learning vs Online Learning

Since distance learning and online learning are connected to each other, people used to confuse with these two terms, but there is a definite difference between distance learning and online learning. The term Distance Learning stresses on the different geographical presence of the student from the educational institution in a learning process whereas Online Learning highlights the method of learning that is based on the internet. Online learning is used as a mode of delivering course content for students who follow distance learning courses. On the other hand, distance learning always requires two parties involved, the educational institution and students. However, when the term Online Learning is considered it can also be interpreted even in accordance with self-directed learning of a person who simply uses sources available on the internet to gain knowledge of his/her interest. For instance, anyone can follow free tutorials available on the internet to learn about certain graphic tools/software.

What is Distance Learning?

The pioneer of distance learning was Sir Isaac Pitman, who first designed a course in 1840s for those who were keen on learning shorthand yet were based on far away locations. He mailed feedback for students written on postcards. The method he used solidifies the nature of distance learning which is being dissimilar in both location and time in a learning process. In the present, all renowned higher educational institutions offer a variety of distance learning courses using a number of methods like posting, mailing of material, communication technologies, recorded tutorials and interactive online learning tools and software. Thus, it becomes clear distance learning is not a collective experience as in a classroom full of students taking part in a lecture. This format of learning rather focuses on the individual student. In most of the distance learning courses, online resources like virtual learning platforms are used for  real-time evaluations of learners.

What is Online Learning?

Online learning as mentioned earlier stands for a specific technique,  mode of learning than a format as in the case of distance learning. Online learning can be self-driven as well can indicate course content delivered via online resources in a distance learning course offered by an institution. Some institutions offer their distance learning courses only via online learning method, e.g. some IT degree programs. Many people who are busy with their occupations prefer gaining qualifications online in distance learning due to easy access to learning resources.

Online learning has a wide scope of methods ranging from downloadable material to interactive learning software with time constrained testing and awarding systems. Apart from these there are also free online courses available on the internet that anyone who has access to a computer can follow without any formal admission  process as in distance learning courses. For instance, a lot of free step by step guide to English language and IT skills are available online.

Difference between distance learning and online learning

What is the difference between Distance Learning and Online Learning?

As a whole, online learning, which is a method of learning based on the internet, is widely used for distance learning purposes. Also, the term “online learning” can mean self – directed learning of an individual using free online educational resources.

• In any of these cases, both distance learning and online learning focus on the individual rather than a group of learners.
• As well, both uplift learner autonomy in the learning process and are flexible in terms of time.
• However, it is important to remember distance learning courses use many other modes like communication technologies to deliver their course content.
• Majority of distance learners who are employed prefer online learning as the mode of learning due to easy access to internet flexibility in terms of time nowadays.