What is distance education? How does it work? Why study online? Discover the answers to these questions in this article!
One teaching modality has been quite prominent in recent years, especially with the recent COVID-19 pandemic: it is distance education, or EAD, which is revolutionizing the way of teaching and learning around the world.
And, contrary to what many people think, the EAD system of teaching is not something new. It has been around for many decades, but in another format: correspondence courses.
Over time, distance education has been perfected and, today, it uses educational technologies to engage students and enhance learning. Read more about education check News PK Jobs .
But, in the end, what is an EAD teaching system and how can it be applied in practice?
It is exactly what you are going to discover throughout this post. So, read on to find out more and understand how to do it.
What is distance education?
As you may have seen at the beginning of the post, Distance Education (EAD) is an educational modality where the transmission of knowledge occurs through the Internet.
Thus, the relationship between tutor and student has the help of online tools and does not need a fixed space or a predetermined schedule to be carried out.
The absence of these barriers of time and place is precisely one of the factors that have been attracting a growing audience, allowing access to diverse content in a much simpler, dynamic, economical and faster way.
Today the EAD offers different options for online classes, going beyond the courses found in universities and specializations. It is possible to find free courses in various areas of knowledge, such as culinary, languages, computing, aesthetics , music and any other type of content that can be taught.
To get a good idea of the scope that the modality has achieved in recent years, we can see the data released by the study Higher distance education in Latin America and the Caribbean .
According to this , distance education in Latin America and the Caribbean is currently experiencing increases of up to 30% year-on-year, that is, much higher than the historical expansion rates observed in traditional face-to-face education.
Given the large amount of data that is being generated and the growing variety of online classes, it cannot be denied that this modality is accumulating more and more followers and conquering a very significant space in the market.
It is an excellent opportunity not only for those who are thinking of studying at a distance , but also for people who are interested in making a change in their professional life and venturing into digital entrepreneurship. If you are part of the latter group, be sure to analyze the possibilities that distance education offers.
In the next topics we are going to present you in a more in-depth way the operation of the EAD , addressing its history from its beginnings until today. Join us and learn more!
How did distance education come about?
If you think that distance education is a completely current topic and that it only began to be discussed when technology invaded people’s daily lives, you are very wrong .
The beginning of EAD as we know it today, that is, as an institutionalized teaching action, dates back to the 19th century, and had its first embryo in ancient Greece and Rome.
Illustration of a woman from the Victorian era waving a pen in her hand, she is seated and in front of her a table with different papers, representing distance education.
Two centuries ago, distance education was done through a letter-sending network . And believe it, there are records of people teaching such varied things as shorthand techniques on postcards, language courses, or mine safety techniques .
Over the years and with the improvements in mail services brought about by the development of means of transport and communication, distance education became even more necessary .
For example, in World War I many students had to flee their hometowns and, of course, leave educational institutions . Thus, in order to reduce the impacts of the war, France created in mid-1939 a distance education program by mail which, over time, also began to use the radio to help transmit knowledge .
During the same period , Latin America also began its first experiences with EAD programs, mainly in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela, giving rise to new teaching methods throughout the world.
Already between the 1960s and 1970s, despite the fact that written materials were still the basis for teaching in the EAD format , other distance learning techniques began to be used . During this time, the incorporation of new resources, such as:
- Audio recordings .
- Use of video tapes.
- Radio and television broadcasts.
- Use of the computer.
- Multimedia technology (combination of text, images and sound).
- Generation of alternative learning paths (such as hypertexts).
- Computerized tutorials.
Thus, what was initially created to be just a way to overcome the educational deficits caused by the war or to update certain knowledge and techniques, ended up becoming an excellent teaching alternative in the digital age .
And as you may have already noticed, all the advances in EAD in recent years have consolidated it not only as a complementary learning system, but in many cases as the main teaching base.
Do you want to know more about how this market works? Follow the next topic!
How does distance education or EAD work?
When we talk about distance education, it is important to keep in mind that we are not referring only to 100% online courses. There is also the hybrid model , in which students have regular face-to-face meetings.
In common, the two modalities use a virtual learning environment , the AVA, which is a platform or software that brings together a set of tools that simulate a classroom.
In this system, teachers manage classes, monitor students and evaluate each of them remotely.
In addition, the AVA allows students to access all course content, such as notes, video classes.
There may also be synchronous activities, which require the presence of students and teachers in real time, such as in a videoconference , and asynchronous activities, where the teacher prepares exercises for students to do outside of simultaneous meetings.
When we talk about distance education, the courses can be classified into free and higher education.
Undergraduate and graduate courses
In recent years, many universities and educational institutions have adopted the EAD system as a way of attracting new students, offering distance undergraduate and graduate courses.
Today, there are already higher education distance courses in various areas, such as pedagogy, management, marketing and engineering. So much variety in the offer contributed, without a doubt, to the growth of the sector.
The free courses , in turn, are those that are not within academia. In other words, it is not necessary to have prior academic training or to take an entrance exam to enroll in them.
Due to this, the dedication time may be shorter, the content is usually more direct and is focused on learning specific skills or professional development of the student. For example, there are free courses in languages, gastronomy, aesthetics, personal finance and business, among other topics.
And, as free courses are more informal, they do not follow a single format and can be short or long, free or not, for beginners or specialists, face-to-face or online, etc.
What are the distance learning formats?
As we have already seen, the EAD offers different alternatives to approach the contents throughout a course. Among the main formats used we can list:
Video classes, which can be made available as live broadcasts, webinars, or recorded in a studio for later playback.
Audio content, such as podcasts or video classes in MP3 format.
Ebooks, containing the material covered in class and any other complementary information that can enrich learning.
Presentations and infographics, very effective to attract the attention of students by offering content in a creative and differentiated way.
Forums and chats, which allow the exchange of ideas through debates and discussions in real-time.
All these resources contribute to make the information move in an extremely dynamic way, greatly facilitating learning and contributing to the good performance of the students throughout the course.
What are distance education platforms like?
To ensure that all EAD tools work properly it is very important that the online teacher or educational institution has the support of a good hosting platform.
This choice is very important since this tool will store the available content and allow students access to study materials, activities, and other information about their courses and records.
With a simple search you can find several companies that offer hosting services for online courses, just look for the platform that best suits your needs, if you are a Producer.
By hiring a good hosting service you will have a personalized virtual environment, with the most appropriate resources for the courses you offer and with specialized support, so that your only concern is to produce quality content.
What is the difference between a tutor and an online teacher?
In an online course, students can be accompanied by two profiles of professionals who will play different roles throughout the learning journey: the tutor and the online teacher.
So that you know more about the particularities and attributions of each one, we are now going to delve a little deeper into this matter.
As in the face-to-face modality, in distance education, teachers are directly responsible for the transmission of knowledge, stimulating in students reflection, the formation of critical opinions, and an analytical vision.
For this, it is important that the professional knows how to plan and direct online classes in a dynamic and interesting way, to keep students constantly engaged and motivated during their studies.
If the EAD teacher is the key element for the production of the content transmitted to the students, the tutor has the function of mediating the relationship between the first two, monitoring the activities of the virtual learning environment, observing the progress of the students, and help them on their journey. Thus, his routine carries the following attributions:
Solve the doubts of the students about the content of the classes or about the operation of the platform.
Correct exams and other assessment tasks.
Suggest new study materials complementary to the subjects.
Produce pedagogical content with EAD teachers.
To this end, it is important that the EAD tutor is well informed, not only about trends in the world of education but also about new technologies, thus ensuring that the learning process is truly efficient.
Who is EAD distance education for?
Considering the points already addressed about the EAD so far, we can conclude that this modality allows the information to reach a much greater variety of people than in the case of traditional and face-to-face courses, don’t you think?
But we live in a society that demands constant improvement and accelerated acquisition of knowledge and skills. So how do you overcome a lack of time to invest in learning?
It is in this scenario that distance education emerges as a practical and viable alternative. Thus, it reaches those who are interested in studying a certain content but have little time available and need to do so in a dynamic and simple environment.
However, it is important to note that whoever chooses virtual learning needs easy access to the Internet. In addition, even if you operate in a very flexible context, you will need to maintain a minimum of organization to be able to absorb all the content and carry out the required activities within the deadline. At the end of the day, in the EAD it is the student who determines the necessary study time on a daily basis.
Furthermore, distance education is also an excellent option for teachers who want to enrich their classes with other teaching materials, or for those who want to work with other teaching modalities and do not want to leave home to do so .
The truth is that the possibilities are endless when we think of virtual classes . You can learn from a new profession to an artistic skill, all thanks to digital resources and technological evolution. That is why it is so interesting to think about this market .
What is the profile of the student of distance courses?
Those who opt for a face-to-face course generally seek greater contact with the teacher and their peers, as well as an infrastructure that simplifies study as much as possible.
The EAD students already have other characteristics that lead them to seek knowledge outside the classroom. Among them, we can highlight:
In general, the distance learning system requires the student to have autonomy: to manage their study schedules according to their routine, to access the contents of the subjects and to carry out the activities within the stipulated time.
Knowing how to do good planning is an essential skill, both for studying and for the professional routine itself.
This competence will make it easier for the student to create well-organized schedules to balance their daily activities with the moments dedicated to EAD, without forgetting, of course, the moments of rest and leisure.
Discipline and organization
If, on the one hand, planning is essential, on the other, discipline and organization are essential to take programming off paper and put it into practice successfully, fulfilling the proposed tasks efficiently and calmly.
Illustration of a hand writing on a notebook with a thick black marker, depicting distance education
For the professionals behind the teaching process, it is also necessary to have a deep understanding of these characteristics of the EAD student, as well as their needs.
In this way, based on this information, the courses will be able to offer flexible routines that allow a balance between study and work, with more accessible monthly payments and contents that adequately meet the demands of the labor market.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of distance education?
As we can see, the EAD system is a model that is revolutionizing teaching and allowing thousands of people to share their knowledge or learn a new skill.
But that’s not the only advantage of the EAD model, which offers other benefits, such as:
Flexibility: because it is online, it is easier for students to reconcile course activities with other tasks they have.
Location: as there is no physical space for meetings, the student can do the activities from anywhere, as long as they have Internet access.
Cost-benefit: online courses are usually cheaper than traditional ones. This occurs because they eliminate various expenses, such as the rent of a physical space and the printing of teaching materials. In addition, the value of the course for the student and their expenses with food, transportation and lodging are also lower.
Interactivity: although the activities do not occur simultaneously, online courses allow students and teachers to interact very efficiently through real-time chat tools, emails, discussion forums or video calls.
But not everything is rosy and the EAD system has some disadvantages compared to the traditional model:
Dependency on Internet access: if the student does not have access to a device that is connected to the Internet, such as a computer or smartphone, they may be prevented from accessing the course content.
Difficulty in offering practical classes: in some cases, there is no possibility of offering practical classes, especially those that require specific equipment or laboratories. This can impair the learning of some skills.
Lower retention: another fairly common problem in distance education is the greater difficulty in maintaining student engagement throughout the course. For this reason, the abandonment of online courses is usually higher than in traditional teaching.