Defining Distance Learning

Before taking this course or any online courses here at Walden University, I believed that distance learning was individuals enrolling in courses online and completing various assignments. I also thought that distance learning included the students logging in at a certain time of the day to virtually attend a seminar or lecture led by the instructor. Throughout the lecture, the students are participating and asking questions. I figured that distance learning was like this because my mother was taking classes online and that is what she had to do. When I started the master’s program at Walden University, I noticed that distance learning also allows you to work at your pace and log in to access all resources for your class at any time. Although there were no lectures in which I had to log in at a certain time for any of the courses I have taken at Walden thus far, there are multimedia resources we are required to view throughout our weekly resources to teach us different content. Rather than synchronous distance learning, the program that I am enrolled in at Walden University uses asynchronous distance learning.

In this week’s resources, I have learned that there are many definitions for distance learning. I have also learned that distance learning have four components which are: distance education is institutionally based; it has the concept of separation of the teacher and student; interactive telecommunications connected with the instructor, learning group, and resources; and instructors interact with the learners and the resources that allow them to learn (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek 2015). Another thing that I have learned from this week’s resources is that telecommunication in distance learning is not limited to the use of the computer and internet. It also refers to the use of the postal system, the telephone, television broadcast, radio broadcast, and video.

Simonson stated that “distance education is formal education in which the learning group (teacher, student, and resources) are separated by geography and sometimes, by time” (Laureate Education, n.d.).  I believe that the one factor that causes the definition of distance learning to change is technology. There are always new advances in technology and some individuals, businesses, and institutions are looking forward to the next big thing. I think that as technology continuously changes, so will the way in which distance learning is executed.  I believe that these changes are based on how much technical knowledge a person has as well as what they have experienced distance learning to be.

After learning about distance learning, my definition for it has changed. I always thought that distance learning only involved using the computer and internet to access your classes at a certain time to be in attendance for a lecture by the instructor. However, distance learning includes synchronous and/or asynchronous learning in which the teacher, learners, and resources interact with one another. Distance learning also involves communicating via mail, telephone, internet, and many other ways that are not electronic.

As time goes by, distance learning will continue to change and evolve. It is going to continue to change because technology is constantly changing. As it changes, I think that there may be newer ways in which content can be presented. I believe that the way in which we learn can be enhanced as long as the instructional designs of the courses are sound. The way in which distance learning have changed from the past to present is fascinating. I could only imagine how different it will be in the future.



Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Distance education: The next generation [Video file]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education. (n.d.). Distance Learning Timeline Continuum [Video file]. Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.) Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.


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