Distance Learning


What is distance learning?

     Referring to (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009), distance learning is “Institution-based and formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunication systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors.” Those are the four main component of the definition of distance learning. Moreover, Coldeway of South Dakota’s Dakota State University provides four practical approaches to the definition of distance learning. For example, Coldeway states that there is a “Combination of time and place results in the four approaches to education:

  • Same-time, same-place education (ST-SP), means learning takes place at the same time and in the same place, which is a self-contained classroom that is teacher-centered.

  • Different-time, same-place education (DT-SP), means learning takes place at different time and in the same place allowing individual learning to occur in a learning center, or that multiple sections of the same classes are offer so students can attend the class in the same place at a time they choose.

  • Same time, different place education (ST-DP), means that learning takes place at same time, but in different places.

  • Different time, different place education (DT-DP) when communications systems are used.”

     The first two types of education are synchronous and the latter two are asynchronous learning.

     Further, explanation of distance learning Rudolf Manfred Delling (1985) stated that distance education, in general, is a planned and systematic activity that comprises the choice, didactic preparation, and presentation of teaching material as well as the supervision and support of student learning” (Simonson et al., 2009). Finally, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational; research and Improvement defines distance education as “the application of telecommunications and electronic devices which enable students an learners to receive instruction that originates from some distance location (Simonson et al., 2009).

Personal Definition and Observation of Distance learning:

     Before this course, my definition and learning was very limited. My prior learning experience as it pertains to distance learning was analyzing, designing, and developing course curriculum for the company’s internal communication platform—the Intranet. My limited responsibility was to create and upload the learning instruction onto the platform. My personal definition as I know it today is Distance learning provides access to students/learners across the globe. Where the instructional designer are afford the opportunity to create meaningful learning sequences that incorporate learners from different places and times, as well as same time and places.

     During this course, my personal definition has evolved. It means that distance learning provide the foundation for the instructional design to build learning sequences to achieve positive outcomes including, but not limited to, time involve in the reinforcement of the instruction. As I further contextualizes, distance-learning start by examining the performance problem and designing the most appropriate means of which the learning should take place. As well, the instructional designer considers the learners needs above the content; and therefore, provide learner-centered learning instruction.

     Moreover, there is a continue emerging of the distance learning definition as well. Referring to Edwards (1995) open learning is “A way in which using mass produced courseware to a mass market…Open learning places greater emphasis on the current specific needs and/or market available by recognizing local requirements and different instead of delivering an established curriculum.” Recently, virtual school has emerged as the expansion of technology continues to develop. Virtual, according to (Simonson et al., 2009) is defined as something quasi or pseudo—distance education is about as real as actual as education can be.”


     As an instructional design student, I envision the continued growth and progression of distance education. In the future, classroom instruction as we know it today might be a thing of a distance past as more and more technologies for distance learning continue to improve. I believe that the next generation of learners will predict how their learning will take place. I see a Facebook type of parallel technology in view for the next generation of learners, as well as iPhones, Tablets, Notepads, or something new altogether. I see professors, teachers, and trainer growing more and more into multiple roles of teaching at a distance because the future is moving rapidly into new technological frontier.

     Universities that are more open are going to spring into existence, perhaps as we sleep. Referring to Holmberg (1986) states, “The Open University brought heightened prestige to distance education and spurred the establishment of similar institutions in industrial nations such as West Germany, Japan, and Canada as well as less-developed nation as Sri Lanka and Pakistan.”

     Who has to say that these trends will not gain more advantage, power, and strength to influence the way we learn at a distance today?



Coldeway, D. (2009). Distance education. In Simonson et al, Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance eduation. (4th Ed.), (pp. 10-11). Boston, MA: Pearson.

 Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S. (2011). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. (4th Ed.). Boston: MA: Pearson Education, Inc.


Mind Mapping of Future Distance Learning