Defining Distance Education
Off-Campus, Distance Education is not new. It dates back several centuries. In the 1700s John Wesley utilized the home study method to educate laymen and ministers alike to spread the evangelistic fires of Methodism.
About 100 years ago, the universities in Europe, including the University of London offered the "nontraditional" degree program. Matthew Henry, the author of the Matthew Henry Commentaries, who was born in 1662 was privately educated at home. Abraham Lincoln who became one of America's presidents was self schooled.
During the 1950-60s nontraditional, distance education began to emerge, more so in the theological schools. Various concepts in education were presented to the American people and the idea caught on. Now many our major universities offer degrees through distant learning.
Off-Campus Distance Education programs consist of well planned and thought out programs of study. Fundamentally, good teaching practices are basically identical to good traditional teaching practices. Well-designed syllabus and presentation outlines, along with the regular college textbook and in some cases audio or video tapes are the mode of delivery. The internet has now made it possible to become a part of a virtual classroom, on-line libraries, and constant contact with a mentor or professor.
Benefits of distance education to the learner include:
(1) Accessible education to students in rural areas.
(2) Students may complete their course of study without suffering the loss of salary due to relocation
(3) Students are exposed to the expertise of a qualified faculty.
(4) Students may study at their own pace allowing some to complete their work quicker while others may take longer.
(5) Students may enroll and begin their studies any time during the year.
(6) In most cases Distance Education is less expensive.