Online Learning vs Distance Learning vs Remote Learning vs E-Learning


Online Learning vs Distance Learning vs Remote Learning vs Elearning

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Online Learning vs Distance Learning vs Remote Learning vs E-Learning – How they differ and relate. Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Distance and information Education:


4 Forms of Digital Learning: Online Learning vs Distance Learning vs Remote Learning vs E-Learning: Differences and similarities


In this post, you will find:


Remote forms or modes of learning in modern distance education

Online learning, distance learning, remote learning, and elearning explained

Online Learning vs Distance Learning vs Remote Learning vs ELearning: What are the differences and similarities?

Online learning vs Remote learning vs Distance learning

Distance education vs traditional classroom learning: What is the difference?


In our other Distance & Information Education posts, you will find:


Advantages and disadvantages of Distance Learning

Elearning: Meaning; Types and Importance

How to have a successful online distance learning program

Factors that determine a successful distance education program

How distance learning works

Distance Education System: Meaning, Features, Technology Application and Resources

Distance Education vs Distance Learning: Meanings, types, and forms

Distance Education Resources: 10 free educational technology apps

Digital learning

Digital learning is a type of learning that involves the use of technology in the delivery of effective instruction. It covers a wide range of educational practices and instructional strategies, like personalized learning, game-based learning, inquiry-based learning, flipped learning, direct instruction, differentiated instruction, including all forms of distance education and e-learning – online learning, mobile learning, hybrid (blended) e-learning, whether they are offered synchronously or asynchronously.

Distance learning encompasses all categories of computer-based and Internet-facilitated electronic learning.


Remote forms or modes of learning in modern distance education

Education stakeholders use these remote forms or modes of learning in modern distance education – online learning, distance learning, remote learning, and elearning interchangeably.  Could we possibly say that the use of those educational concepts synonymously is right?

This blog post will inform the reasons behind such usage by educators and if they are justifiable:


1. Online learning

In online learning, courses are delivered through real-time video lectures or self-paced assignments as the central modes of instruction – the online instruction and the educational resources and materials accessible through internet-enabled computer devices. The educational tools are created solely to be delivered online by an online instructor.

Online learning is a form of electronic learning often more interactive than the other types of remote or distance learning, as it allows students more flexibility to reflect on what they say when they communicate with tutors, instructors, and fellow students expressively in a more comfortable environment in real-time.

Even though online learning can benefit students of all learning styles, it is a preferred mode of education for more visual learners to communicate and get information with people they can see and hear in a two-way interactive video instruction mode via a computer or electronic device rather than to write messages to unseen students and instructors.

A student’s online experience is usually intuitive, interactive, and engaging. A student who wishes to engage himself in an online education program enjoys equal access to the same educational resources and materials as an on-campus student, like your institution’s digital library, The Distance Learning Management System, like the computer-assisted instruction(CAI), student union and discussion forum membership, among others provided he is officially registered with the institution.

Mobile learning (mlearning) is a future trend in distance education aimed at delivering instructions on PDAs and mobile phones as computer devices. Mobile learning (mlearning) can be a form of elearning via the Internet or computer network mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones to obtain learning materials through installed mobile apps, online social interactions, and/or educational hubs.


2. Distance learning

It is a functional process of having remote learning taking place among learners usually in audio clips and video images or other forms of distributed resources connecting different learners in a system of electronic space or using non-electronic (print) or electronic communication media to deliver instruction and facilitate teaching and learning when teachers and students are separated in place and/or time.

The modes of operation include internet-enabled online video-chatting, mailing, emailing, or/and a combination of e-learning and non-e-learning media.


3. Remote learning

Remote learning, in similarity to distance learning, is an example of the traditional in-person classroom learning moved to the realm of the virtual online environment due to scheduling issues, sickness, or disaster.

In remote learning, learners normally follow a schedule similar to a typical traditional in-person school day by logging into a virtual classroom to complete assignments, listen to lectures, or participate in group activities.


4. Elearning

ELearning is a system of distance learning whereby electronic technologies or devices are used to access educational resources or run an online course or program remotely. ELearning can also be said to be the use of technology to connect teachers and students for the purpose of transfer and

Identification of computer-based e-learning and internet-based e-learning as two primary types of e-learning provides the difference between elearning and online learning.


Online Learning vs Distance Learning vs Remote Learning vs ELearning: What are the differences and similarities?

Differences and similarities between online learning, distance learning, remote learning and elearning
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Differences and similarities between online learning, distance learning, remote learning, and elearning. Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay


What is the difference between online and distance learning?

 Is there any difference between distance learning and online learning or are they the same concept of remote learning? Yes, there are slight differences between the two modes of education.

The major difference between online learning and distance learning is that while online learning is facilitated in a real-time Internet or Web instruction in a virtual classroom as students are separated from instructors and peers while learning remotely in place (remote learning), distance learning offers its remote form of learning facilitated through both real-time Internet or World-Wide Web or other network technologies instruction and non-real-time Web-enabled instruction, including the use of non-electronic (print) communication media and computer-based applications and services or any other electronic means or media of delivering instructions and learning materials (elearning). Such online, electronic, and mass media including emails, mails, audiotape, videotape, radio, and television (TV) broadcasting, and satellite transmission, textbooks, postal correspondence, board messaging, CDs, and DVDs are modes of delivery and gaining access to study materials for distance learning courses without the teacher-student face-to-face social interaction.

Depending on the distance-learning institution providing the course or program of study, a student may be able to ask a tutor or instructor for help via e-mail, telephone, instant messaging, or post.

Online learning can be described as a subset or superset of distance learning depending on the mode of instruction-delivery. When distance learning is done through real-time Internet-based instruction, then online learning becomes a superset of distance learning (distance online learning) but when distance learning is described to include all forms of remote learning including real-time characterized online learning and other forms of remote and elearning (computer- and electronic-based), then online learning will be implied to be a subset of distance learning (online distance learning). That is, online distance learning is a form of distance learning that takes place in an Internet-facilitated online mode.


What is the similarity between distance and online learning?

Notwithstanding their slight differences, there abound a handful of similarities between distance and online education.

Despite online learning is a subset of distance learning, the creation and delivery of distance educational instructions and learning materials are associated with Internet or web resources and services.

All forms of distance education program be it fixed, hybrid, linear, conference, adaptive, correspondence distance learning, or computer-assisted or computer-managed rely on the use of the Internet or Web services, a dominant feature of online learning either in creation or delivery, to provide the distance education resources and services.


Online learning vs Remote learning vs Distance learning

Online vs remote vs distance learning
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Online vs remote vs distance learning. Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels


All forms of elearning courses or programs are Internet or World Wide Web-enabled through network technologies services – a characteristic feature of online learning or computer-based or delivered through non-electronic communication media.

For example, hybrid distance learning is a combination of remote online learning with traditional in-person classroom education. Online distance learning can take place at home (at-home online learning) or any other convenient place remotely.

Fixed distance learning has lesson information and contents delivered to learners remotely unchanged.

While Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) or Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL) utilizes interactive computer software for the teaching of students remotely through a combination of multimedia, quizzes, tests to facilitate learning, Computer-Managed Learning (CML) or Computer-Managed Instruction (CMI) are used by distance learning providers as interactive information databases for information management and educational services.

Conferencing learning stages classroom learning activities in a real-time virtual classroom, whether in a group or one-on-one with an instructor using internet-enabled educational technology resource tools (like video-chatting application software) and services.

Sending training materials to students remotely through TV and radio programs is an example of linear distance learning whereby reflecting a one-way teacher-students communicate in one direction only.

In correspondence learning, the teacher delivers learning materials and other resources to students through internet-enhanced mails and emails while the students submit to the teacher their completed work or assignment via the same media.

An adaptive distance learning, individuals’ remote learning tasks are designed according to learning goals, individual student’s characteristics and abilities, skills, and performance.

Online learning is more adaptable to adult education and degree or professional certification for working professionals, allowing them to tune into lectures and online courses at their own or stipulated time within certain deadlines. It also favours those who wish to learn a skill, typically tending to be more flexible than remote learning.

Online and remote learning are very similar but differ markedly in the mode of delivery of lessons. Online learning symbolizes a mode of distance education that is firmly rooted within the computer and the Internet whereas remote learning is what happens when in-person classroom education must be moved online because of one issue or crisis or another.


Distance education vs traditional classroom learning: What is the difference?

Distance education vs traditional in-person classroom learning
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Distance education vs traditional in-person classroom learning. Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay


Distance education is clearly different from regular education in terms of a student or teacher’s physical presence. But what does that mean, exactly?

For the most part, it translates into increased freedom for both learners and educators, but it also requires higher degrees of discipline and planning to successfully complete the course of study.

The enhanced freedom of remote learning is most clearly seen in the fact that students can choose courses that fit their schedules and resources. (Teachers can do the same.) And in the case of digital learning, students can also choose the location and teaching styles that best suit their needs.

The flip side of freedom, however, is the discipline required to make the most of the lessons. Students need to self-motivate in order to actually get the work done, especially in systems that don’t require them to be present in some specific time or place. Teachers also need to be better organized with contingencies should their students need additional explanation, again especially if they are not live teaching and able to “read the room.”

In certain cases, however, distance learning is not just required but the best possible option. There are times when the advantages of remote education really have a chance to shine.



This blog post on ‘Online Learning vs Distance Learning vs Remote Learning vs E-Learning: Differences and similarities’ is categorized under Distance & Information Education

Our Distance & Information Education system is about creating and delivering impacting and empowering information to our amiable readers on the use of educational technology tools and solutions to achieve achieving better learning towards a sustainable future – Eduonwheels 

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