At the same time, the method allows the students to be self learners and the teachers to become facilitators.
From its earliest beginnings, distance learning has changed rapidly and at the moment it seems to have become the trend in future education. One of the main reasons for DE to become such sought after area is the support provided by technology in its conduct. Let us now take a look at how distance learning evolved through time to withstand the challenges and to achieve what it has achieved at present.
In the early days, distance learning was through posting of learning material and receiving the responses from the students through printed media using ordinary mail. As expected, it was time consuming, less efficient, did not allow the teachers to become innovative and lessened the motivation of students to continue to study with time. But, by making use of sound pedagogic practices, it was possible for the teachers to make the students achieve the outcomes which are expected of them to a certain level. But, it was not viewed as efficient as usual face to face learning.
When the digital media came to the picture after 1950s, the educators were quick to identify its potential and the instructional material became much more efficient as well as attractive and was sent over post in an electronic storage device such as a CD. Later, when the email systems developed, the distance learning adopted itself to this mode of delivery as the communication and interaction became rather efficient and was less time consuming.
But, the greatest leap in distance education came since the time of internet and after it being a common household commodity and was available at much greater speeds than what it was decades back, the distance learning began to evolve at a pace that none of the other milestones were ever be able to match.
When considering its humble beginnings, educationists and theorists world over are now lining up to reap the benefits of teaching through distance learning which now being referred to as “online learning” as internet being its major teaching learning medium. At the same time, many researchers have acknowledged the fact that, DE is either same or is superior to the traditional learning scenario when sound pedagogic practices and technologies are properly used.
The development of different technologies related to internet would be the future in distance education and we have already seen the changes that are taking place following introduction of web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis, social networking…etc. As video conferencing, virtual environments as well as simulations are widely gaining acceptance, the future distance learning could replace the age old traditional learning in the not so distant future!
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