Distance Learning: It’s The Latest Thing…Or Is It?


You may have heard it referred to as e-learning, online learning, distance education, distance learning or online classes. Computers, technology, taking classes without traveling to a school campus…it all sounds very up-to-the-minute. Would you be surprised to discover that the concept of distance education is nearly three hundred years old?

According to Wikipedia, a teacher promoting his shorthand course in an 1728 edition of the Boston Gazette was “seeking students for lessons to be sent weekly.” Whether the lessons were sent by a rider on horseback or a ship departing from the Boston Harbor we aren’t told; however, shorthand evidently proved to be a good course to teach from a distance. Another instructor offered the subject through the mail in Great Britain in the 1840s.

Soon distance learning swept across the Atlantic to North America. As post offices dotted the land, correspondence schools begin to pop up throughout the United States and were widespread as recently as 1980. Students relied on the post office to bring lessons to their home and deliver their homework to the school by return mail. Who knew the old correspondence schools advertised in the Sunday Parade Magazines of the 50’s and 60’s had evolved into the sophisticated online schools of today?

Distance education… in today’s terms

As the little history lesson on correspondence courses demonstrates, distance education is the process of learning from an instructor who is not in the same physical location as the student. In addition, the learning often occurs at a time other than when the teacher originally presented the lesson.

Today’s distance learning is often conducted online, making it accessible to anyone with a computer and Internet service. The training can also be delivered on videos, CDs and DVDs, and by teleconferencing and podcasts.

Why register for a distance education course?

Though the times and technology have changed drastically, the reasons for signing up for a distance education course remain the same. They are:

  • You need to gain knowledge.
    You want to acquire new job skills so you can increase your income and elevate your standard of living.
  • You can learn at your convenience.
    Possibly, you hold down a full time job during the day and have to study at night. Perhaps you are a young mother who has to wait until a baby is napping before you can read the lessons or do homework. Maybe you were injured on the job, and want to use your recovery time to improve your skills.
  • You can study in the comfort of your own home.
    You aren’t confined to rigid chairs and crowded classrooms. Just lean back in a cushy chair with your laptop.
  • There is no commuting.
    You don’t have maneuver through congested traffic and travel long distances.

Those were good reasons in 1728 and they are good reasons today. Distance learning is the perfect way for those who are confined to their homes, either by necessity or by choice, to acquire an education. For more about distance learning and how you can expand your skills and knowledge, visit http://imtcva.org/program/distance-learning/

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