As a digital curriculum developer, middle and high school teachers often ask us the best way to implement digital resources in their classrooms.
Two of the most common buzzwords surrounding these conversations are online learning and distance learning.
While both of these teaching strategies involve students working on computers or devices, there are some differences between them.
In this article, we’ll answer your biggest questions about online learning and distance learning, including:
What’s the difference between them?
What are the advantages of each?
What potential drawbacks can come up?
Which one is best for you and your students?
You’ll also discover whether digital curriculum is a good fit for your program to implement online or distance learning.
1. What’s the Difference Between Online Learning and Distance Learning?
Both online learning and distance learning require similar online learning tools, but there the similarity ends.
Overall there are three major differences between online and distance learning:
Differences in Location
The key difference between online learning and distance learning is location.
With online learning (sometimes called eLearning), students can be together in the classroom with an instructor while working through their digital lessons and assessments.
When using distance learning, students work online at home while the teacher assigns work and checks in digitally.
Differences in Interaction
Because of the differences in location, the interaction between you and your students differs as well.
Online learning will involve in-person interaction between you and your students on a regular basis. This is because online learning is used as a blended learning technique along with other teaching strategies.
Distance learning includes no in-person interaction between teachers and students. However, you’ll likely rely on digital forms of communication such as messaging apps, video calls, discussion boards, and your school’s learning management system (LMS).
Differences in Intention
The final difference between online and distance learning is the intention of the teaching strategy.
Online learning is designed to be used in combination with a variety of other in-person teaching methods. It’s a supplemental way of mixing things up in your classroom to provide a variety of learning opportunities for your students.
Distance learning is a method for delivering instruction solely online, not as a variation in your teaching style.
Now that you know the differences between online and distance learning, let’s move onto the advantages of each one.
2. Advantages of Online and Distance Learning
Online learning and distance learning are both viable and effective teaching strategies.
However, they each have their own distinct advantages for both teachers and students.
Advantages of Online Learning
Online learning provides three major benefits in the classroom.