There are two types of courses on the market - distance learning and online courses. Why did they get such names, and what is the difference between both training formats? Let's get to the bottom of this question!
What Is Distance Learning?
If we consider offline learning, this format affects the distance form. But this is far from the truth because getting new knowledge involves taking a short-term curriculum online. While taking a distance learning course, students perform the following tasks:
- Independently familiarize themselves with the materials provided;
- Watch records of classes;
- Do their homework;
- Get answers from tutors in direct messages or online chat;
- Submit completed homework for review.
This type of learning is asynchronous. It operates in a split time mode (i.e., the student chooses what time it is convenient for them to learn new material). Therefore, students can plan to work on acquiring knowledge.
Distance learning emerged in the 1990s, but the most significant breakthrough in its development happened during the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, people from big cities and remote settlements could find time and an opportunity to get an education. And now, the distance format is perceived not only as an addition to the usual formats of education; it has become an independent way to learn a new specialty. Thus, many classical universities and large companies now offer short-term courses, enhance expertise in well-known areas, and even get a degree.
What is eLearning?
However, the online learning format has some differences, despite some similarities with distance learning courses. First, it involves learning new materials "here and now," so most (or all) classes take place live.
The format also has another name, "eLearning." All because it is considered a new degree of development of the distance format, but with new realities. And the prefix "online" (or "e") testifies to the method of acquiring new knowledge and skills and interaction with the tutor.
Thus, each student in an eLearning course should watch recorded or live lectures, take tests or open-ended assignments, submit assignments for review and receive feedback from a tutor. After that, learners can share impressions or asks for advice and group chat, track progress in their studies, etc. It allows for fewer distractions and a better immersion into the educational environment.
How Is eLearning Different From Distance Learning?
Electronic learning differs from distance learning in the very principle of education. Whereas in traditional distance learning, the distance between students and tutors and the availability of recorded lessons on a particular platform is essential, in the case of online learning, a person can use any gadget with an Internet connection and watch the classes live.
But if we consider the other aspects, there are no differences. Both distance and online learning stand out for the following advantages:
- The ability to study at your own pace without being tied to the place of living, study group, or time zone;
- Availability of training from any device with an Internet connection (PC, smartphone, tablet);
- The ability to receive clear feedback from teachers on both homework assignments and all progress during the course;
- The feature of watching a missed lesson at any time and downloading the materials provided by the tutor;
- The ability to do homework and turn it in for review in the interface of the learning platform.
This allows students to gain new knowledge and succeed in the future effectively.
Why are these concepts still confused?
Experts are still researching the issue, but most believe that the confusion over the concepts is caused by the continued penetration of many English words into other languages. And some ideas can mean the same things. Also playing a role in this is the lack of regulation of using terms to explain certain aspects of learning.
However, the main problem is different: everyone involved in eLearning and distance learning has been disconnected from the beginning. Every university, college, or individual business has always been sure of the right approach to providing valuable knowledge to others. However, discussions about what single concept to use for online learning began relatively recently. The reason is simple: the market has grown so large that it is time to introduce uniform standards and rules.
Moreover, there is no unified understanding of EdTech (educational technology). Some educators understand digital solutions for creating and running learning projects, while others understand online courses and training sessions using innovative approaches. However, most often, the term EdTech describes everything that concerns education and digital technology (i.e., the word itself has a pretty broad definition).
Why the Concept of eLearning Is Outdated
Also, according to some experts, the eLearning term is considered very outdated. Indeed, companies try to show their experience in the market using this word, but on the other hand, such data use shows irrelevance. Therefore, the industry now needs to use different terms, "online learning" or "digital learning," which better reflect the essence of the education format.
There is another argument in favor of the new terminology: eLearning as electronic learning made sense when they opposed traditional methods of gaining knowledge (i.e., without a digital component). However, the situation is somewhat different: electronic means and networks are actively used even in classical learning. Thus, we can not talk about another format of electronic learning.
Therefore, the variant with "online learning" fits best because it reflects precisely how students acquire knowledge and are relevant at this moment in time.
What Role Does the LMS Play in Creating an Online Learning Course?
If we talk about online learning, it is only possible to imagine it with a learning management system (LMS). It is a kind of control center that allows you to configure many aspects: learning content, lesson schedules, testing, homework, group communication, and much more.
Some systems are so complex that individual developers are hired to customize them to the needs of the company or school. It is understandable because they know how to properly plug online learning tools into an e-course and use their full potential. Recently, however, LMSs with an intuitive interface and user-friendly builder that allow you to launch the first lesson in just 30 minutes have appeared on the market.
An online learning management system has several significant advantages over the traditional format:
- It offers tutors and coaches accessible tools for easy course organization and content delivery.
- All students get access to learning materials from any device.
- The LMS requires no additional software installation; everything is available directly in the browser.
- Students have complete control over their progress as they can view class notes conveniently.
- The LMS allows teachers to create interactive tests with instant results. It reduces the time commitment of both the student and the tutor.
All these advantages attract thousands of teachers and entrepreneurs who enter the educational product market and launch their unique products. And it allows the creation of a no-nonsense competition to classical training sessions.
We hope that in this article, we have answered all the questions that you may have. But if certain things remain unclear, write in the comments. We will try to help you!