Distance learning is a form of education in which the instructor and student are separated. As advances in technology rapidly progress, the interest in distance education has grown as well and has thus become more common. Technology has given this kind of learning numerous possibilities. There are various forms of distance education used alone or in combination. These technologies provide many opportunities for education, but not with out a few restrictions.
There is a wide range of technological options for delivering information to the distance learner. There are many different forms of communication and media to contain course material and to overcome physical distance of the teacher and student. These methods include various types of voice, video, data, and print. Instructional audio tools include audio-conferencing, tapes, and radio. Instruction is delivered through lectures and discussions. Tapes and radio allow the student to listen to lectures one way, whereas audio-conferencing allows students to participate and interact with others. Audio tools allow access to the learner from their choice of location; however, with audio-conferencing there is usually a scheduled time for discussions. Another form of distance education is visual learning. This includes broadcast television and compressed video systems. “Broadcast television delivers distance education by sending analog or digital audio and video signals by microwave relay over short distances or by satellite over longer distances” (Ludlow and Duff 13). Television broadcasts can be used for one-way video and audio presentations. This can also be used in conjunction with by audio conferencing in which the students can interact and discuss before, during, or after instruction (Ludlow and Duff 13). This does however, limit learners to an equipped place and set time. There is a need for high development and operational costs.
Specially trained production personnel are required as well as expensive transmission equipment (Ludlow and Duff 14). Compressed video systems are another form of visual learning. These systems “employ coaxial or fiber optic telephone lines to transmit two-way audio and video signals for distance education” (Ludlow and Duff 14). This form of distance education also restricts learners to scheduled times and equipped locations. Ludlow and Duff note that the picture and sound quality are sometimes distorted due to limited transmission (14). This form of learning does however, allow the instructors and learners to see and hear each other minimizing the distance between them. A third form of distance education is delivered through data. Computer uses for distance education consist of computer multimedia components, computer-mediated communication, and online instruction. According to Clark and Else, computer-based media are emerging in independent learning and multimedia methods for...