Teacher Handout

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Introduction to distance education

Greetings! Welcome to this handout on Distance Education. It is meant to help a Tutor tackle an introductory session to Distance Education. It provides an overview of distance education and pointers to the different issues that will be developed in other sessions.

This handout has thus been developed with sharing of knowledge in mind.


[1]; [2]; [3]

Teaching plan

Definition/s of Distance Education –

Distance education refers to the type of teaching/learning transaction whereby the teacher and the student are separated physically, geographically, and spatially from one another. These contribute to distances that can constrain the teaching/learning that takes place. As Moore and Kearsley (1996) argue, distance education involves planned learning that occurs in a different place from where teaching is being carried out. It requires special course design, instructional techniques, communication media and technology, organizational as well as administrative arrangements. Some authors use distance learning instead of distance education; this tends to shift the emphasis to the learner only –but here the concern is also with the teaching arrangements not only learning arrangements. Further discussion is available on [4].

Characteristics of distance education'

Based on the above definition, the following characteristics appear to belong to the distance education activity:

 Separation of teacher and student  Use of technology to mediate teaching and learning [5]  Interaction between teacher and learner  Administrative and Institutional support

What is open distance education?

A more recently related appellation, open and distance learning (ODL), has extended boundaries of conventional distance education and revisited concepts of accessibility, flexibility, and convenience. It highlights the more flexible arrangements that can be made for students regarding entering and exiting a program of study, e.g. registration points may be less rigidly specified, or the learner may quit for some time because of family or other commitments and come back to the program at a mutually negotiated time with the institution with which the learner is registered. Thus ODL may, for instance, consider prior learning or experience while registering students and give exemptions based on time a learner has to spend on a program or waive entrance requirements accordingly. Its importance and relevance in bringing education to many often marginalised people, has been reiterated in many development and policy discourses. This distinction is discussed here because distance education programs offered may not necessarily be ‘open’ in the sense of accommodating learner constraints. Finally, this project is firmly concerned with distance education that refers to a distance “of understandings and perceptions caused by geographic distance, that have to be overcome by teachers, learners and educational organisations, if effective, deliberate, planned learning is to occur Moore and Kearsley, 1996, p.200.

The different names given to distance education

The following names that are given to distance education activities must be used with care since not all of them represent a learning and teaching transaction. Some may be uni-lateral.

 Distance education  Correspondence education  Online education  Adult education  E-learning  Flexible education

Activity 1

Can you think of any other names by which a distance education activity is known?

Activity 2

Can you write down a paragraph that highlights the difference between print-based distance education and electronic distance education?

Please check proposed answer from the following page, a proposed differentiation and appellation