Cover Story

Is Distance Education right for you?

Student using laptop for online courses
Photo: © Hongqi Zhang / 123RF Stock Photo

The concepts: Traditional learning, Correspondence/Distance Education, Online learning, let’s get to understanding the basics.

Traditional learning is synonymous to classroom learning; students and teachers get together in real time. Distance education refers to ways in which education may be delivered to students in remote locations, which allows students the flexibility to learn without being physically present on the campus. It is designed to offer students who cannot commit to on-site study, the opportunity to pursue education in non-traditional formats. Distance education may include online degree programmes, correspondence courses, CD-ROM education and many others. All course materials are given to the student via mail or electronic means so that they can master the materials at their own pace and time and which does not involve a specific timetable. Distance education may not necessarily include any face-to-face interaction with the teacher, but this method has surely changed in modern times to inculcate a few features that the online education model of learning has to offer. Hence, online education these days is often seen as a part of distance education and sometimes they are used interchangeably.

The only point of difference between distance education and online education is that online education evolved due to the current advancement in technology. Students who own or have access to PCs can pursue an online degree by completing course work via the Internet. Online education specifically offers a far more interactive environment than the traditional correspondence model does. The teacher and the student can have a face-to-face, simultaneous interaction during live chats in virtual classrooms. They could be geographically isolated, yet they can have a quasi-face-to-face environment, enhancing academic rigour through discussion boards, email, instant messaging, e-libraries, cell phone applications, teleconferences and weekly assignments. Students enrolled in these programmes receive and submit course work online and interact with fellow students and faculty by email or through other forms of electronic communication.

Distance/Online education has gained popularity over the last decade thanks to technological advancement and has benefited many who cannot educate themselves further due to various reasons. Yet students are often plagued with doubts when opting for distance/online education. Often apprehension sets in is because they are not clear on the pros and cons of distance education and whether it is right for them.

There are quite a few advantages of distance education; the following pointers will help you consider if distance education is worth a shot.

1. Opportunity for lifelong learning: Many people have families to support and cannot leave full-time work for a full-time education. Distance learning is perfect for people of all ages who want to gain knowledge or add a certification to help them gain a competitive edge at their workplaces or for those who want to learn a new course and don’t want to get back to regular schooling.

2. Study at your own pace, flexibility option: Distance education works on the methodology of finishing the course within a stipulated period of time. Course materials are handed over to students at the onset of the programme. Since everyone learns at a difference pace; distance education gives students the option to decide how much they study each day.


  • Disadvantages to distance learning
  • Which method of distance learning is right for me?
  • Distance learning in India
  • How do I identify a genuine university from a fake
  • Admission procedures for distance learning
  • Top 10 Open Universities in each career category

Read the full article by subscribing to the print magazine or the digital edition.

More articles

Prof. Sherene Aftab is a passionate counsellor and enthusiastic lecturer. Her expertise lies in the areas of personality development, career and relationship counselling and stress management. You can reach her at

Prof. Sherene Aftab

Prof. Sherene Aftab is a passionate counsellor and enthusiastic lecturer. Her expertise lies in the areas of personality development, career and relationship counselling and stress management. You can reach her at