Distance Learning Defined With A Little Help From My Friends

Interestingly enough distance learning has been around for over 160 years. The first method of this particular education took place in Sweden where in 1833 an advertisement was placed in the local newspaper offering opportunity to study “Composition through the medium of the post” Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). In the 1840’s England jumped on board when they allowed Isaac Pitman to offer shorthand courses via you guessed it correspondence. Three years later the idea evolved into the Phonographic Correspondence Society which was better known as Pitman’s Correspondence Colleges Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015).  So you see this very idea of distance education is not new it is merely the evolution of technology and learning mediums that have changed.

My personal definition of distance education prior to starting this course was that distance education had been around for a relatively short period of time, that it was a learning medium offered for convenience and through the computer only. What I have learned through my course resources this week is that there is a very rich history surrounding distance learning and that this particular concept was incepted long before the invention of computers and other technology. With technology in mind Europe was the first to expand their communications with electronics, Audio recordings were used in instruction for the blind and in language teachings Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). In the 1960’s Satellite technology was developed and in the 1980’s it was made more cost effective enabling a wide spread of what is now known as instructional television Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Fiber optics was introduced in the 1990’s and so began the beauty of “live, two-way, high-quality audio and video systems in education” Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015).

After learning more about the evolution of distance learning,  I still hold firm on my idea of convenience, this form of learning has proven to be a much more convenient mode than the traditional brick and mortar and for me it has been an idealistic way to earn my graduate degree, work, take care of my family, advance my career and learn from others that are more experienced, share common goals and interests and provide instant feedback, which in my opinion is crucial for any successful learning environment.

My belief is that distance education will be around for many, many more years and that the only thing that may change is the way that the courses will be presented. I use to think that distance learning would eventually take over all of the traditional brick and mortar institutions but I am beginning to waver on that theory a bit these days.

 I believe that every organization whether educational, corporate or non-profit is looking for ways to save money in order to stretch those dollars further and I believe that in some cases distance education has provided that; organizations use to spend millions of dollars sending their employees all over to garner sales, clients, learning experiences etc. but now with technology they are able to send their employees to their desks in front of a computer screen for a few hours and” Wala” learning accomplished and less money spent on man hours, flights and accommodations. There is only one little flaw in that idea, not everyone learns the same way and let’s face it not every learning course is designed in the most engaging manner, that is why I firmly believe that there will always be a need for traditional learning within a brick and mortar, that there will always be benefits in face to face interactions and that in the future there will be more of a balance of the two. My hope is that as time passes we will become more in tune with what each learner needs in order to be successful and that we will be able to accommodate those needs. Learning and education is not a privilege it is a right and one that everyone should experience despite possible limitations Ohio State Senator Peggy Lehner (2013).

Education has proven to be a key to many things in this world. My Mind Map below is representation of what I believe education and in this instance distance education means. Distance education has provided convenience for many as they pursue whatever educational goals they have whether that be through a university or through their occupations, it has allowed the learner freedom which means that they there are able to pursue their goals without having to make sacrifices in their employment, families etc. it has also allowed organizations to save millions of dollars. Distance education is ever changing and will continue to change as technology advances, it allows the learner to engage with other students, professors and professionals within their fields all from the comfort of their homes, offices, and hotel rooms etc. and learning has no mileage limitations. In short distance education has allowed for many to have the opportunity to advance their knowledge base and obtain their learning and life goals through the convenience of technology that has been around for over 160 years and for that I am internally grateful!



Lehner, P. (2013, February 6). Education: A Right Not A Privilege. Retrieved November 1, 2015.

Course Text: Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education

Chapter 2, “Definitions, History, and Theories of Distance Education” (pp. 31-40 only)




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