eLearning, eLearning Industry, eLearning Software, Professional Training

Distance Learning – What is it? How to Deliver It with an LMS

6 min read | updated Mar 17, 2022
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Traditionally, K-12 or college students would learn inside of a physical classroom. That was until schools began offering courses through a more flexible approach called hybrid learning.

Hybrid learning – a type of distance learning – allows students and employees to alternate between attending in-person classes and learning online to take complete a program (eLearning).

Fast-forward to the present, hybrid learning is still a popular option for students taking courses and employees training, but fully remote (distance learning) is at an all-time high in popularity.

With these changes happening in the education market and workforce you may be asking yourself “What tools or technologies are needed to offer distance learning.” So, in this article, we’re going to first talk about what is distance learning and the different types available, and then we’re going to cover how you can efficiently offer distance learning with a Learning Management System (LMS).

What is Distance Learning? Is it the same as eLearning?

Distance learning, otherwise known as eLearning is any type of learning that happens online remotely. Distance learning is helpful for non-traditional students who don’t have the luxury of being able to attend in-person classes while taking courses: full-time employees in college, international students in a different time-zone, military personnel, etc. Although the term “learning” is used in the phrase, distance learning is not limited to educational institutions like k-12 schools and universities. Many training institutions and companies training internally offer continuing education to employees, customers, and partners using a hybrid or fully remote system!

Distance learning has been around for decades, but ever since Covid-19, it’s become a norm for delivering education to students and training to working professionals.

When it comes to distance learning there are a few different types to consider – let’s talk about those next!

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Three Different Types Of Distance Learning

Live Virtual Training (Webinars)

Out of all the different types of distance learning, live virtual training is the most similar to traditional teaching. The main difference: instead of meeting in a physical classroom, students and instructors sit in a virtual classroom together hosted using video conferencing apps like Zoom or MS Teams.

Whether you are teaching students graduate-level courses or trying to improve company culture in your tech startup, webinars and live virtual training are always good options. Additionally, live virtual training is great for keeping large groups of students or employees engaged in a program – even more, since this form of distance learning is so similar to the traditional form of learning most students adapt to it quickly.

Self-Paced eLearning

Self-paced eLearning is pretty much the “go at your own pace and in your own time” style of online learning and training. Unlike live virtual training, self-paced eLearning happens asynchronously (time-zone friendly). eLearning courses that are self-paced consist of materials that can be accessed on-demand, 24/7.

Here are some common instructional materials that could be included in a self-paced eLearning course:

  • Multiple-choice tests and quizzes
  • Discussion boards
  • Videos
  • Interactive SCORM modules
  • PDFs and platform-native text modules
  • Written response assignments and more!

Blended Learning (combo of the two)

Blending learning happens in an online program when the company hosting training utilizes both live virtual training and self-paced eLearning together. Blended learning is great for maintaining high levels of engagement in your classrooms – regardless of the use-case or industry being educated!

Here’s a theoretical way blended learning could be used: Company A is offering training on X, Y, and Z. After students have completed the self-paced course on X, Y, and Z, before awarding them with a certification and passing them in the program, you could require them to be tested by an instructor over a zoom call.

Blended learning allows you to challenges learners in different ways, to maximize the knowledge and skills being acquired from distance learning!

The Advantages Of Distance Learning

At the beginning of 2020, distance learning and training were forced on many different schools and businesses around the world – most of them were not prepared. That said, if by some miracle you somehow managed to stay in person during the last few years, we’re going to tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning right now.

Let’s start with the advantages:

Whether a class is hosted via a webinar or through self-paced modules, distance learning is much more accessible to students and employees than in-person instruction. This means more students can get educated and more businesses can easily scale training. Equally important, it’s more affordable to deliver training courses online since fewer instructors are needed and the cost of materials like books can be reduced or eliminated completely.

There are a lot of advantages to distance learning. We’re not going to cover all of them during this article, but let’s finish by talking about efficiency. Especially when it comes to self-paced eLearning, curriculum and content can be edited and updated, and a video or course created one time can benefit unlimited students and employees for years to come! Unlike an in-person seminar that has to be recorded and sent out manually, webinars hosted with an LMS can be automatically recorded and accessed by learners after it’s over.

Disadvantages to distance learning:

Let’s start with the obvious – unless you have the right software and structure in place, distance learning be a lousy solution for educating and training online.

In order to deliver courses online effectively, you need a platform like a Learning Management System (LMS). We recommend a cloud-based LMS so that your courses are hosted on a secure server and all the technical maintenance is handled for you. LMSs are equipt with all the necessary integrations and features to deliver, manage, and report on distance learning.

Once you have an LMS, then you’re headed in the right direction. However, there are a few common disadvantages to think about while delivering distance learning.

  1. eLearning in a virtual environment is not as stimulating as training or learning in person with other humans.
  2. Students and employees enrolled in courses will need a computer and most likely a steady internet connection.
  3. Self-paced learning is most effective with in-person and virtual live training alongside it.

Effectively offer Distance Learning using an LMS

High-quality LMSs are compatible with just about every industry and use case. Whether you are using our LMS to streamline your HR department and onboard employees or to deliver training to real estate professionals, an LMS works well. Equally important, while many people think of educational providers like Canvas or Blackboard when the LMSs are mentioned, LMSs are widely used beyond schools for training employees and external audiences in business!

Here are a few of our LMSs features that allow your business to thrive while offering distance learning and training:

User Roles

Live virtual training supports multiple user roles of instructor present student in LMS eLearning e-Learning platform

Academy Of Mine LMS has a user management system that’s based on a feature called user roles.

The use roles feature allows you to create a hierarchy in your training system where certain users have fewer permissions than others. For example, students cannot delete other students in a classroom or reset another student’s progress in a course – meanwhile, instructors and administrators can. Our LMS by default allows you to choose from 6 roles when assigning permissions to users, starting with Students, Instructors, and Administrators.

Using our LMS, you can also create custom roles to personalize how your eLearning portal structure works.

Reporting & Analytics

The majority of grades and student reporting in an LMS should be automated. Our LMS has built-in reporting & analytics tools that allow instructors to easily monitor progress users are making in a course or a group of students is making in a classroom. Other than basic reporting like keeping track of what grade a user has received on a test and if they have completed a course and been certified, there are some more advanced reporting options available.

For accredited courses, you may want to utilize features such as “time-spent” which allows you to closely monitor how long a student has spent in a module or course. We also have a feature that you can turn on to prevent users from skipping ahead inside of a course or video.

If you want to learn more about our reporting and analytics read this.

The Takeaway

Now that you are an expert when it comes to distance learning and you understand how to effectively offer it using an LMS. If you’re looking for an LMS provider with excellent software and a team dedicated to customer success, give us a call.

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