Also known as “distance education”, distance learning refers to learning experiences in which the student and instructor are not in the same place.
In his famous “mere vehicles analogy”, Dr. Richard Clark likens the use of media to get instruction delivered (from a teacher located at a distance) with the use of a truck to get your groceries distributed (from a farm located at a distance). Just as the contents of the groceries are not altered in the transportation process (given careful packaging/refrigeration), the quality of instruction is not altered by its delivery via media (provided careful instruction/facilitation). In other words, the medium itself does not alter the quality of the product; what we do with the product (think refrigeration/teaching), however, does.
Dan Coldeway came up with the quadrants of distance learning, as follows:
- ST-SP (same time, same place): this is essentially face-to-face instruction
- ST-DP (same time, different place): this is synchronous or live instruction
- DT-SP (different time, same place): this is instruction in a learning center at the student’s choice of time (tutoring, or group work, for example)
- DT-DP (different time, different place): this is asynchronous instruction.