Dec 08

What Is Distance Learning?

For many people, studying in a classroom environment isn’t always possible. It could be due to their age, special needs or negative experiences that make the traditional school environment too challenging.

Luckily, a solution for both young people and adults is available; distance learning. In its simplest meaning, distance learning refers to education that doesn’t take place in a school, university or training centre.

But there are many types of distance learning available, so it’s important to understand the pros and cons of studying at home.

In this post, we’ll cover what distance learning is, the types of distance learning and the pros and cons of choosing it over traditional schooling.

Distance Learning Explained

Distance learning is a method of teaching where the course delivery takes place in a student’s home rather than in a classroom environment. Today, it’s most common for distance learning to be in the form of an online course instead of printed materials.

Many distance learning courses are available, including traditional educational routes, such as GCSE’s, A-Levels, and degrees.

You can also find a range of vocational and career development distance learning programmes, which are beneficial if you’re short on time and have other commitments.

In general, distance learning can either be synchronous or asynchronous.

Synchronous Learning

Synchronous learning refers to real-time education, which often occurs through the internet. This type of distance learning is beneficial for online tutoring because students tune in to their lesson, and it’s the closest thing to an actual classroom experience.

While synchronous learning is beneficial for younger students who need an educator’s support, adults might find it too restrictive, as you need to be present for every lesson.

Asynchronous Learning

Asynchronous learning still supports learners, but the sessions are less interactive. For example, you could have a set curriculum, but watch the lessons in your own time.

Most asynchronous learning programmes have set assignments, and if you’re studying an academic subject, you’ll need to attend an exam centre.

The Benefits of Distance Learning

Distance learning isn’t easy because it requires a lot of commitment and dedication – but the ability to learn at home has many benefits, including flexibility, convenience and opportunity. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.


With most distance learning courses, students can enjoy a degree of flexibility. Instead of getting up every morning and heading into a school or college, you can use your spare time to catch up on lessons, and most courses give you the flexibility to learn at your own pace.

The internet also enhances the learning experience because people can study from anywhere without carrying around books or other materials. All you need is an internet connection.

It Builds Confidence

For some people, learning comes naturally – they have no problem absorbing information and learning new theories. But some might find they need more time to grasp that information, which by no means makes them less intelligent.

Distance learning enables learners to access tutor support and study at their own pace, which is beneficial if you’re nervous about the course or have been out of education for a long time.

There’s a sense of achievement when you complete each assignment, which means learners are more likely to progress at their own pace and become more confident.

Adaptive Learning

We all learn in different ways, and while some might prefer reading materials, others need a more practical approach. Distance learning courses can sometimes be restrictive in terms of content delivery, but if you choose online tuition courses, the educator can tailor the learning technique to suit your needs.

For example, if a younger student needs extra support with maths, the tutor can offer one to one online support, which is still a form of distance learning, but it’s much more integrative and bespoke to the student.

Some young people struggle in a classroom environment but are scared to speak up because they don’t want to feel embarrassed in front of their peers. With online tutoring, most students are able to voice their concerns to the tutor, which makes the education process more enjoyable.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Distance Learning?

As with most things, there are some disadvantages to distance learning. For younger students, being out of the classroom environment can restrict them socially, as there are fewer opportunities to build friendships with their peers.

However, there are plenty of social activity groups children can join, so it’s more a case of ensuring they have that social enrichment.

The other disadvantage of distance learning is it requires commitment and motivation. As you’re in charge of where and when you study, some people find they fall behind with their course.

Is Distance Learning Right For My Child or Me?

We always recommend that a distance learning programme for children should be more interactive, and live online tutoring is the best solution. Not only does it offer the most support, but children will associate online tuition with a classroom environment.

Adults might also benefit from online tuition, but they’re also more likely to commit to learning independently, so if you work full time or have other commitments, it might be best to opt for a more flexible distance learning course.

Do You Have The Right Equipment?

Equipment is essential for distance learning, and most providers require you to have a computer and webcam to communicate.

Is The Time Right?

If younger people struggle at school, it’s always a good time to invest in online tutoring because a good education is key to succeeding later in life. Adults should think about whether they’re able – and willing – to invest their time in furthering their knowledge.

The Bottom Line

Distance learning has so many benefits. With modern technology at our disposal, everyone can further their general knowledge, learn new skills, and access qualified tutors at the click of a button.

While any form of learning requires motivation and commitment, online tutoring can provide students with the necessary skills and confidence to succeed later in life.