What Are the Different Types of Distance Learning Resources?

Amy Hunter

Distance learning resources include traditional classroom resources such as textbooks, and less traditional resources, such as forums and video recordings. The type of distance learning resources used depends on the subject, and the style of class taught. Synchronous learning is the classification for distance education where all the students are present at the same time, while asynchronous learning is when the students work at their own pace. A class can be taught in either of these styles, or a combination of the two.

A woman taking a distance learning class.
A woman taking a distance learning class.

In synchronous learning classes, all of the students work at the same pace, however the teaching is remote. A schedule is provided so students will know when to be available for classes. These classes are taught by video or web conferencing, or through educational television. Students may also participate in live chats with the instructor and other students online.

Asynchronous classes move forward at the pace set by the students. They access their distance learning resources on their own schedule, and are not required to meet online, or in front of a television, at a particular time. Distance learning resources for asynchronous students include email, audio, and video recordings, as well as books and other print materials. Message board forums are also usually an important part of classroom interaction.

Individuals struggling with a class, or wanting to delve deeper into particular subject matter, may find they need additional distance learning resources. The bibliography of the textbooks currently in use often provides additional resources for the student. Open source classes, taken in conjunction with the current course load, can improve understanding of complex topics. Both traditional and digital libraries offer a wide range of educational materials that tie in with whatever field of study the student is pursuing.

The struggling student may find that the hands-off approach to learning in distance education does not suit his or her learning style. In cases like this, distance learning resources may not help either. A tutor that is available to meet in person can often assist the student in overcoming roadblocks in a particular subject, such as math. Some individuals find distance learning to be challenging, due to the remote nature of instruction and feedback, while others actually prefer it.

Distance education provides options for students that may normally not be able to further their education, and allows others in remote locations, or with busy schedules, to have an opportunity to gain knowledge in a major that may not be offered close to home. Distance education is growing in popularity as more colleges realize they can reach more students with the same amount of resources as in the traditional classroom setting; moreover, constant improvements in technology are improving the opportunities for this type of learning every year. Distance learning is particularly attractive to older students, those with children or full-time jobs, and individuals who have issues with mobility or other disabilities.

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