What is a Distance Education Learning system and how can you implement it?

What is a Distance Education Learning system and how can you implement it?

The Distance Education system, with remote classes that are more dynamic and flexible, just keeps on growing. Learn more about this type of education, its impact on learning, and how to turn your knowledge into an online course.

A teaching modality has gained much prominence in recent years, especially with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. It’s called distance education, or DE, which has been revolutionizing education around the world.

And contrary to what many think, the DE learning system isn’t new. On the contrary, it has existed for many decades, but in other formats, such as correspondence courses.

Over time, distance education has improved, and nowadays, it uses educational technologies to engage students and enhance learning.

But after all, what is a DE learning system, and how can it be applied in practice?

This is exactly what you will discover throughout this post. So, keep reading and check it out.

What is a Distance Education learning system?

Before learning the definition of a DE system, you need to understand what distance education is.

Also called DE, distance education is a mode of teaching that takes place remotely, using information and communication technologies.

Thus, it’s no longer necessary for teachers and students to be present in the same place or time to learn.

But, in order for distance education courses to work, it is necessary to have a system that manages and automates these courses’ content and functions.

And that is where the DE learning system comes in. It allows the management of all of this information in a more organized way, making remote learning very similar to in-person teaching and without hindering students and teachers.

How does the Distance Education system work?

When we talk about distance education, it’s important to emphasize that we aren’t referring to 100% online courses only. There’s also the hybrid model, where students have regular in-person meetings.

In common, both modalities use a virtual learning environment, or VLE, a platform or software that gathers a set of tools that simulate a classroom.

In this system, teachers manage the classes, monitor the students, and evaluate the performance of each one remotely.

Besides, the VLE allows students to access all course content, such as workbooks and video lessons. 

They may also include synchronous activities, which require the presence of students and teachers in real-time, as in a videoconference, and asynchronous activities, where the teacher prepares exercises for the students to do outside of the synchronous meetings.

When we talk about distance education, the courses can be divided into open courses and higher education.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses

Recently, many universities and educational institutions have adopted the DE system as a way of attracting new students, offering undergraduate and postgraduate distance learning courses.

Currently, there are distance learning college courses in various areas, such as marketing, business administration, and even engineering. Such a variety has contributed to the growth of the sector and, according to Education Data, the online learning industry is projected to pass $370 billion by 2026.

Open courses

Open courses, in turn, are those that offer training outside the academic scope. In other words, they don’t require previous education or the need to take the SATs to enroll.

Because of this, the time dedicated is shorter; the content is more direct and focused on learning specific skills or the professional improvement of students. Therefore, there are open courses in a variety of topics, such as language, cooking, beauty, personal finances, and business, among others.

And because open courses are more informal, they don’t follow a single format and can be of short or long duration, free or paid, for beginners or specialists, in person or online, etc.

What are the pros and cons of DE?

As you can see, the DE system is a model that is revolutionizing teaching and allowing thousands of people to share their knowledge or learn a new skill.

But this is not the only advantage of the DE model, which offers other benefits, such as:

  • Flexibility: Because it’s online, students find it easier to reconcile the course’s activities with other activities.
  • Location: DE courses also offer more flexibility regarding the course’s location. Since there’s no classroom, students can do the activities anywhere, as long as they have access to the Internet.
  • Cost-effectiveness: online courses are usually cheaper than traditional ones. This is because they eliminate several expenses, such as renting a physical space and printing the didactic material. Besides, the price of the course for students and their expenses with food, transportation, and accommodations are also lower.
  • Interactivity: even if activities do not take place in synchrony, online courses allow students and teachers to interact very efficiently through real-time chat tools, e-mails, or video calls.

But of course, it’s not all roses, and the DE system has certain disadvantages when compared to the traditional model:

  • Requires internet access: if the students don’t have access to a device with Internet access, such as a computer or smartphone, they may be prevented from accessing the course content.
  • Difficulty in offering hands-on classes: in some cases, there is no possibility of offering practical classes, especially those that require specific equipment or laboratories. This may hinder the learning of certain skills.
  • Lower retention: Another fairly common problem with the DE system is the greater difficulty in keeping students engaged throughout the course. For this reason, the online course dropout rate is usually higher than in traditional teaching.

How to implement a DE learning system

Now that you know how the distance education system works, and the benefits it offers, it’s time to learn how to turn your skills and knowledge into an online course.

Shall we get started?

1. Define your audience

The first step before turning what you know into an online course is to determine the profile of the students to whom you want to teach.

Determining your target audience is critical when launching any product and the DE system is no different. By doing this, you’ll be able to determine the course’s format, the language style used in the materials, and even which teaching strategies will be needed.

When determining your audience, think about certain issues, such as age, income, geographic location and the level of education of your prospective students.

2. Choose the course’s format

The next step is to choose the course’s format, i.e., how the content will be presented to the students.

One of the advantages of the DE system is the vast range of different formats you can use, such as video lessons, e-books, slide shows, podcasts or live videos.

The right format for your course will depend on your target audience’s profile. So choose wisely.

3. Set the duration for classes and the entire course 

Another detail that cannot be left out of your planning is the duration of the classes or modules and the course’s total time.

As we explained earlier, open courses do not follow a pattern, and the workload can vary between a few hours, days, weeks or even months.

Ideally, the duration should be proportional to the complexity of the subjects that you will be covering in class.

4. Prepare the content and didactic materials

The most important part of a distance learning course is the content of the lessons and didactic and support materials. After all, it is through them that the students will learn the content you have planned.

Ideally, you should prepare a course plan, a syllabus outlining the path your students will follow from the first class to its completion, and the skills that you expect them to have learned by the end.

Then, start developing the teaching materials that you will use in class, such as videos, presentations and infographics.

Finally, also include support materials, such as spreadsheets, audio files and even lists with links to complementary websites.

5. Choose a good DE platform

Finally, you’ll need a place to host and make your course available online. Therefore, choose a DE platform that gathers all the necessary resources your course will need.

Overall, a good DE platform needs to have certain features, such as:

  • Responsiveness, i.e., adapt to mobile devices (tablets and cellphones), used by many students who are looking for a DE learning system
  • Good learning environment, offering interfaces and features that facilitate learning
  • Reliability, ensuring the security not only of the course’s content but also of all course purchase transactions, including students’ financial and personal information;
  • Compatibility with several course formats, such as video, audio, image, and live interaction classes
  • Accessible Communication, with features such as sending direct messages between students and teachers, discussion forums, and direct messaging chats during live classes.

Are you all ready to enter the world of distance education?

The DE system isn’t new, but it has gained increasing relevance in recent years, winning over people who seek to share knowledge or learn new skills.

One of the explanations for such success is the flexibility in course formats and the possibility of learning occurring more dynamically than traditional teaching.

In this post, you learned a little about the characteristics of the DE system and how to turn your knowledge into an online course.

Now, it’s time to take the next step, put your ideas – and everything you’ve learned – into practice. 

If you’re looking for a complete platform that can offer you all the best tools and solutions to create, host, and distribute your online classes, learn more about Hotmart.

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