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eLearning and Distance learning

Differences between eLearning and distance learning

The advancement of technology and the varied educational institutions, each providing a number of courses or degrees, has led to a confusing a variety of terms in the field of eLearning and distance learning. If you are considering pursuing an online course or a distance learning degree, you will first need to understand what each type of learning offers. That way, you can make an informed decision and avoid any mix-up.


This is learning using electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. The courses are specifically delivered via the internet to somewhere other than the classroom where the lecturer is teaching. eLearning is sometimes interactive in that students can also communicate with their lecturers, professors or other students in their class. Sometimes it is delivered live, where students can electronically raise their hand and interact in real time and sometimes it is a lecture that has been pre-recorded.

Distance learning

This is a way of learning remotely without being in regular face-to-face contact with a teacher in the classroom. In Zambia, such learning has its roots in students learning through correspondence courses. Materials are produced by an institution and are either sent directly to the student or more usually today accessed via email. There may be occasional face-to-face encounters with tutors.

About eLearning and distance learning

eLearning and distance learning is a form of education in which the main elements include physical separation of lecturers and students during instruction and the use of various technologies to facilitate student-lecturer communication. Distance learning typically focuses on students that are full-time workers, non-residents or individuals in remote regions who are unable to attend lectures. However, distance learning has become an established part of the educational world, with trends pointing to ongoing growth. In Zambian higher education alone, a huge number of students have benefited from eLearning and distance learning programmes.

There has been an increasing number of colleges and universities offering eLearning and distance learning opportunities in the country. Both students and institutions have embraced this programme with good reason. Institutions benefit by adding students without having to build lecture theatres and housing, and students get the advantages of being able to work where and when they choose.