Distance learning as a concept might seem confusing at first, but it’s quite simple, and very efficient if managed properly. For some students, it might be the right kind of education, and sometimes it create barriers to implementing it effectively.
In this article, we are going to talk about distance learning, history, challenges and how to overcome these challenges at your school or institution.
What is Distance Learning or Online Learning?
Distance learning or interchangeably called online or remote learning, is a method of learning in which the teacher and students aren’t physically in the same place. Although there’s a difference between online and distance learning and the line between both is not clear, but mostly they are used in combination and interchangeably to indicate non physical face-to-face learning, it depends mainly on technology to make communication easier for students and teachers.
The misconception is that most people think distance learning is self-study or nonacademic learning, but the truth is that distance learning is carried out by institutes and schools. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this concept – distance learning was employed in many schools and universities across the globe.
Distance Learning: History and Future
As controversial as it might seem, distance learning is not a new concept, the first attempts of distance learning or distance education was back in 1728 attributed to Caleb Philipps, a teacher of a new method of symbolic writing. He was teaching his students through weekly mailed lessons. This is the first and earliest attempt to teach and educate from a distance.
But some others argue that the first distance learning method in a modern sense was back in the 1840s by Sir Isaac Pitman, he taught his students a system of shorthand writing and was receiving their answers and transcripts from his students back for correction.
Then this concept started to prove its efficiency, until the first distance learning was founded in the UK in 1894, Wolsey Hall, Oxford.
Distance learning was only adopted in higher education by universities, and institutions, but this isn’t the case anymore. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused schools worldwide to shut down and they moved to online learning and distance learning.
Technology has advanced many sectors, and education is no exception, many tools, technologies were developed to enable online learning, and promote distance learning. From MOOCs platforms, to smart school management systems, and online campuses.
Many schools, even some businesses, were not prepared for the sudden lockdown during the pandemic, and distance learning style which costs them too much. So it’s important to stay up and ready if anything happens so your school can continue, this won’t happen if you don’t have a solid system in place. It has become a necessity to have a school management system in place, read this article: Top 7 Reasons Schools Should Use Student Management System if you want to know how a school management system would help you be more efficient and prepared.
Shams offers you a solid system that creates a seamless framework for your school to operate, streamline all your operations and help you and your employees be productive and efficient. Explore Shams Features Now!
Benefits of Distance Learning
Distance learning has some advantages, and also some challenges, some teachers and students prefer face-to-face learning, the traditional classroom-based learning but new generations are tech geeks, and they spend most of their childhood and adolescence with technology in-hand which changed their perception of learning new stuff. Unfortunately, some teachers, and school administrators are missing on these points, a fair amount of schools are still using papers and attendance sheets Ugh!
Here are some fast facts about Distance learning and online learning in many schools.
- 10% increase in students being enrolled online.
- 60% of students strongly agree with the use of mobile learning.
- 74% of school principals indicated that technology already had reduced workload.
Here are some benefits of distance learning
Distance learning promotes resources and learning accessibility by expanding access to your teaching efforts to be online so students who can’t be in-person with you in the classroom are able to follow the material and curriculum.
- Comfortable Communication (For some students)
Many students are anxious or even shy to ask questions, and they might skip a concept or a subject just because they are afraid to ask or shy by nature. In your teaching and the system of learning you set for your school you need to account for all these personalities. Distance learning and online learning in general makes communication more comfortable asking questions or requesting elaborating on some subjects, being communicating via a chatting system or a video conference.
Distance learning offers a great deal of flexibility for both teachers and students. It enables any student with a disability or illness to keep up with their peers, and not left behind. Distance learning also offers teachers some flexibility in their scheduling for lessons and exams
- Saves Time
Distance learning saves the time students take to commute everyday from and to school. It hones your students’ time management and communication skills. It’s also easier for parents to follow up with their children.
A trending topic in education that might be interesting to you is gamification and their implication in education, why it’s important, how to incorporate it into your learning, all this and more in this article, Gamification in Education: Theory and Practice.
What Are the Challenges of Distance Learning?
Not to overestimate distance learning, it has some challenges to be addressed and thought about, some of them represent a major challenge to teachers, and some to parents.
Managing a distance learning environment is not easy because you have to deal with some challenges regarding the tools and technology you’re using, one of which is distraction. You need to educate your students on how to stay focused, and use tools that maximize their performance and promote their productivity.
- Hard to Follow-up
Following up with students online or from a distance can be a challenging task for teachers. You need to follow up regularly to see what issues they are facing, and if they have any tech shortage, you might also spend some time and effort to get your student familiar with tools you are using.
- Delayed and Async Communication
We all agree that communication is vital in any learning process, and it’s increasingly important in case of distance learning, communications have to be instant and sync, so both teachers and students can participate in an active learning and teaching. Although distance learning provides a good and comfortable framework for some students, it can be challenging and hard for some students. We advise you to set some direct communication channels according to a specific schedule.
Distance learning nature makes it challenging for teachers to get students engaged, you should make sure your students are interacting with you and with their peers in a way that promotes their learning. Read this article:3 Ways to Improve Student Performance if you want to know how to increase student engagement and performance.
Distance learning and online education is the future of school, as we live in an unprecedented time, anything can happen anytime, so it’s better to be prepared for any situation. Distance learning has some benefits and it also comes with some challenges. If you manage to overcome them you’ll be surprised by the outcome of this learning technique.