Traci's Blog

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." ~Goethe

Defining Distance Learning

Defining Distance Learning

Before starting this Distance Learning course, my definition of distance learning was simply learning at a distance. I compared distance learning to virtual classrooms and e-learning. My only experience with distance learning is through the E-learning system my office maintain for our employees, both at headquarters and through out our regional offices, and through my studies at Walden University. From reading the learning resources for this week, I understand distance learning is much more than what I have previously expected.

According to Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education, Distance learning is defined as “institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors” (Simonson, et. al., 2012, p. 32). The word separated is referencing the distance of the learning, in which the learning group is separated geographically, intellectually or epochally. The learning group consist of the teacher, students, and resources, which are connected through the medium (i.e. technology). Since my profession offers e-learning in which an instructor or facilitator is not involved, I never considered the teacher or the instructional designer in my distance learning definition. However, as suggested by the video Distance education: the next generation, distance education includes distance learning and distance teaching (Laureate, n.d.).

With the knowledge gained about distance education, I have adopted the definition illustrated by our course text; which also illustrate the four components to the definition of distance learning (Institutionally-Based, Interactive Telecommunications, Separation of Teacher and Students, and Sharing of Data, Voice and Video). Without each component, distance learning would be less than what it aims to be. The terms I would use to refer to distance learning will have to change if I am to adopt the new definition of distance learning. E-learning falls in the same boundaries of the distance learning definition. Virtual classroom, however, is a phrase that I will no longer to reference distance learning. Our course text mentions how virtual means something potential an may become actual; however, actual is the opposite of virtual. So virtual classroom, in my opinion, can be used to defined something that is actually present. And see how present distance learning has become!

Distance education is erasing the boundaries of knowledge between people. This type of learning is allowing for people from all over the world and all walks of life to communicate and share knowledge. When distance education began 160 years ago, I don’t think the contributing parties towards its emergence and success realized how the emergence of technology would bring parts of the world closer together. I can imagine that the future of distance learning will lead to changes in traditional education. Traditional classrooms will be joined by distance learners from all over the world , diversifying traditional classrooms curriculum. Since technology is always changing and is very impressive at its current state, I can not fathom how advances in technology will impact the future of distance learning.


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

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.



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3 thoughts on “Defining Distance Learning

  1. Hi Traci! I will be following your blog throughout this course.

  2. Hi Traci, I am following your blog and enjoyed reading your latest entry!

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