Online learning and distance learning are two phrases that are often used interchangeably. Whilst they both involve working on computers, there are actually some differences between them. The three main differences between online and distance learning are: location, interaction and intention. Let’s have a look at these in further detail.
Differences in location
With online learning (also referred to as e-learning), learners can actually be together in one place with a teacher whilst working through their lessons digitally. On the other hand, distance learning is where learners work at home and are assigned work from their teachers digitally.
Differences in interaction
This is mainly caused by the differences in location, as learners interact in different ways depending on whether a teacher is physically standing over them or letting them get on with it on their own. Online learning is a more personal approach as there is that interaction between learner and teacher. It involves blended learning which is a mixture of online and face-to-face, so learners get the best of both worlds.
Distance learning doesn’t include any human interaction at all, and digital forms of communication are heavily relied upon. This can be anything from messaging apps to video calls and internal learning management systems (LMS) such as Moodle.
Differences in intention
Online learning is meant to complement, and be used alongside other in-person methods of teaching. Think of it as a supplementary teaching style rather than a holistic one. By using a variety of teaching techniques, learners will be more engaged. Distance learning is a lot more structured and is used to solely deliver learning online.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Online Learning
Starting with online learning, some of the advantages of this method include:
- It is a great way to improve learner engagement when used in combination with blended learning.
- It allows for a more flexible teaching approach – there are lots of online learning tools to help with this.
- Time is saved when it comes to both planning and grading as e-learning systems often have lesson plans and assessments within their platforms.
Some of the disadvantages of online learning are:
- The reliance on learners having access to technology and internet connection on a regular basis.
- It involves lots of screen time, which can cause eyesight problems later in life.
- Cheating is hard to monitor when assessing learners online – there is nothing to stop them from Googling the answers.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Distance Learning
Now let’s have a comparison against distance learning. Here are some of the advantages:
- Distance learning can continue without any external disruptions – for example the pandemic, or even bad weather days when transport is not accessible.
- It provides much greater flexibility as learners can work at their own pace, allowing them to revisit modules if necessary.
Some of the disadvantages of distance learning are:
- Again technology, because if learners don’t have access to a computer or the internet they are unable to learn at all.
- It is hard to see how quickly learners are progressing with distance learning (and whether or not they are studying when they say they are).
- Screen time again is an issue with distance learning, but unlike with online learning there isn’t really anything you can do to reduce this!
So as you can see, the advantages and disadvantages of both online and distance learning are actually very similar. It really depends on the individual needs of the learners, and also their ages too. Younger learners benefit more from online learning as there is more face-to-face interaction, whereas older learners often work better on their own and can be trusted to study without much guidance.
If you would like to find out more about the distance learning that we offer here at Brooks & Kirk, drop us an email – email@example.com.