People use lots of terms when it comes to new styles of learning. Nowadays, everybody talks about online learning, eLearning (electronic learning) and distance learning while considering education options. And every time they talk about these terms, there’s one confusion that whether they are the same or different.
Few people use these terms interchangeably with few similarities but each of these learning is unique having strategic although subtle differences. The features of these three types of learning that differentiate them from each other can be the type of access, media and of course, the interaction they include. What according to you is eLearning and distance learning? Let us put this up in simple words. You can say that eLearning is one of the styles of learning while distance learning is one of the methods of attending classes by not physically going for it.
Before we jump to discuss their differences in detail, you must know what these concepts are.
What is eLearning?
Learning that includes technology to help the learner can be known as eLearning. eLearning uses technology to enable people to learn anytime and anywhere. In the real world where people have occupations to do with limited budgets, the learning system that one uses should possess the power of technology to overcome the impediments of time, distance as well as resources.
You can use eLearning delivery methods for the very fact that people learn in a wide range of courses and at different times. It is a new way of learning that suits a lot of learners including, both school-aged and adult. Tutor James Anderson at the State of Writing says, "We use eLearning in order to connect with our students. They can connect with us online, and we can work with them to improve their writing skills". Most people fail to understand that eLearning can happen anywhere, as far as you have a laptop/desktop.
What is Distance Learning?
When you want the data exchange should happen regardless of geologically isolated by time or distance, distance learning is at your rescue. Distance learning is often comprehended and used as a synonym for online learning. Online learning is considered as a form of distance learning, but a more feedback-oriented version of distance learning. Distance education begins with teaching through print media even before the internet. Distance learning is a concept that uses technology to bridge the gap of time and distance.
How are eLearning and Distance Learning different?
Both, eLearning and distance learning are capable of getting learners out of learning, irrespective of where they are. Even though these methods of learning are slightly different from each other, but can also overlap. As we discussed before, since eLearning is used in local settings, the distance is not considered as much of a factor.
It is helpful for adult learners as eLearning fits into most people's busy schedules making it easier to access anytime and anywhere. The ease of access means more and more adults are undertaking online courses and classes, to learn the necessary skills. eLearning can be used when by including multiple formats and methods of instruction, like CD-ROM, the Intranet, the Internet and audio as well as video formats. While technology continues to evolve, e-Learning also keeps changing.
Distance learning, on the other hand, is designed in such a way that it is accessible from anywhere in the world. It is the solution to the issues of accessibility by using webcams or chat programs. Both eLearning and distance learning are fairly flexible. But in distance learning, you have to learn in a specific time frame, whereas in eLearning, the learner can go through the course at his/her pace. eLearning gives the learner a lot more freedom than distance learning. When one is learning online, he/she may or may not have a specific tutor to help but distance learning may provide a little less support in terms of receiving feedback or responses to your queries.
Can both happen at once?
If we say these two types of learning are not the same, does that mean that they are always separate? The answer is, that is not the case at all, because eLearning just refers to how the teaching is being delivered. As you can see, although there is a difference between eLearning and distance learning, there are no reasons to keep these two apart. As an educator, one uses both these types of learning together to create unique and engaging training courses.
Now that you know what distinguishes eLearning and distance learning, you need to consider the type of learning that suits you the most. Apart from this, you must also consider that how earning an alternative education could benefit you.