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The difference between e-Learning and Distance learning is attributed mainly to the mode of interactions, the tools used, study materials delivered, the expenses incurred, and the global reach. Distance learning is focused on a limited set of students based out of specific locations, but the e-Learning breaks all such barriers. Read on for what makes these approaches to education so distinct:

Tools and Mode of Interactions

The distance education relies on more traditional methods of disseminating the lessons. It is broadly based out of academic institutions sending paper books and study materials to the students and expecting them to follow the content. Additionally, students need to attend personal contact sessions wherein classes akin to the regular classrooms are conducted at the authorized study centers a few times in an academic year. They can seek guidance from the teachers and submit their assignments. However, in the case of e-Learning, the teachers and students may never meet in person, irrespective of the type of course such as regular or part-time. The interactions are essentially virtual using the team room software over the internet. Instead of pen and paper, the use of software applications on the internet is all-pervasive.

Study Materials & Assignments

For distance education, the course books are distributed to the students through the post or couriers. They also need to complete assignments on paper and send back to the institute for reviews through the same conventional means. However, in the case of e-Learning, the study materials are usually made available for downloads in the form of pdf documents or videos. The students do not need to submit the paper passed assignments for the courses they undertake, instead, they submit the same through predefined online forms or scanned documents sent through emails or shared on specific spaces designated by the institutions. This marks a key difference between e-Learning and distance learning.

Cost Differences between e-Learning and Distance Learning

The costs involved in imparting and using e-Learning for both the educational institutions and students are far less in comparison to the traditional distance learning on account of various aspects such as:

Expenses Incurred on Printing and Distribution of the Study Materials

In the case of Distance Education, the institutions incur costs in getting the courseware printed and distributed. They printed study materials sent to the pupils through the postal or courier services which add up to the costs involved. These are ultimately passed on to the students. For the e-Learning, though the printing and distribution costs are saved through publishing the content on the internet and making it available for downloads. The costs to be borne for the printing and the distribution of the study materials are almost nullified making it a hands-down winner for an e-Learning vs distance learning comparison in terms of expenses.

Travel & Boarding Costs

The distance learning usually involves students to attend personal contact programs involving formal classroom study sessions a few times during an academic period. They need to make travel and lodging arrangements for attending these sessions making them loosen their purse strings a bit further. In the case of e-Learning though, such costs are completed avoided since the instructors and students meet through the virtual means over the internet making the advantages and differences of costs galore between e-Learning and distance learning.

Costs Incurred on Equipment

In a perfect world, no specific equipment other than a pen or paper would be required, in the case of distance education as it is closer to the traditional white board-based teaching. On the contrary, for e-Learning, the learners need to make some upfront one-time investments on buying equipment such as a Laptop, a printer-scanner in addition to a subscription with an internet service provider. Thus, making e-Learning appear costlier on the onset, however, these costs flatten out on realizing its benefits and rewards over a period through the avoidance of travels and paper-based books.

Real Estate Costs

The institutions need to invest money in providing for the brick or mortar classrooms for the one-on-one personal contact programs in case of the distance education which in turn escalates the costs of delivering a course thereby making students bear the brunt of excessive costs alternatively, these costs are reduced to zero or almost nil in the case of e-Learning thereby benefiting them enormously.

Scalability of the Learning Facilities

A major difference between e-Leaning and distance learning is the agility with which new students could be enrolled in education programs in the case of former. The distance education has limitations on the number of students who can be admitted in specific study programs for the sheer want of logistics such as printing and distribution of books and arrangement of classrooms for contact programs. In the case of distance education, only a limited number of students could only be offered courses per the availability of the infrastructure but in comparison, the number of students which could be enrolled has practically no limits as the facilities needed to host students could be radically enhanced with very little costs involved.

Global Reach

The distancing learning has in-person tutor-taught interactions at its core, it needs the students to travel some distance to reach out to the instructors. Hence it is pertinent that distance education is limited to geographies. Any travel far from the vicinity of one’s residence, region, or country might not be feasible because of the practical and monetary reasons for the expenses involved. On the other hand, the e-Learning content could be delivered anywhere around the world without needing to travel for personal interactions using the internet-based virtual tools and study materials delivered electronically. The e-Learning breaks the geographic barriers and tends to be omnipresent.

The conventional appears to be safe but the new internet technologies make the delivery of e-Learning a very exciting, cost-effective, and pan-global paradigm both for the teachers and learners.