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EDIT 5370 - Roy Bartels

 
 
DISTANCE EDUCATION - DEFINITION

Defining Distance Education

Simonson defines distance education as institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors.
Merriam-Webster contains definitions for distance and for education. By combining the two definitions, distance education becomes: To provide schooling for or to train by formal instruction and supervised practice, where such instruction is taking place via electronic media linking instructors and students who are not together in a classroom.
Although these two definitions are very similar, Simonson's use of the terms "institution -based" and "formal education" lend an air to the definition that appears to indicate academic institutions, and where the result of the training is some sort of degree.
In the Merriam-Webster version, the use of "formal instruction" carries a different connotation than Simonson's "formal education". The use of the term "institution-based" seems unnecessary to me and eliminates the possibility that other forms of education/training, such as cooperative home schooling, could be done via distance. With the wide availability of individual video conferencing today, it is entirely possible that a home schooling cooperative could conduct sessions via the web.
formal
While it may not reflect much creativity on my part, I will offer the Merriam-Webster version as my own approach and definition.

To provide schooling for or to train by formal instruction and supervised practice, where such instruction is taking place via electronic media linking instructors and students who are not together in a classroom.

Looking at existing definitions of distance learning, even definitions created within the past five years are dated. As new technology emerges and new instructional methods are created, no specific definition of distance learning will stand the test of time. Change is good.