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Distance Education: Concept, definition, characteristics, Advantage| Needs of Distance Education




'Distance Education' as its word indicates the system of education from a far to the place.

Distance learning means the act of acquiring education from a remote place.

Distance learning is in fact a form of open learning.

Distance education has turned out to be a boon to the officials scattered over diverse geographical areas with diverse backgrounds. 

The learning process in this education takes place not through the teacher but through the communication media. The discretion and self - action of the objector is more important.

A learner acquires content to suit his speed and needs. It is a systematic learning process which uses communication mediums.




Different scholars have defined distance education in different ways -

According to  Prof. Homberg: "Distance Education is the variety of education at all levels where teachers do not attend a continuous and speedy inspection of school classrooms with their students, but do not benefit them less by planning, directing and educational arrangements."


"Distance education is such a learning method in which the teacher takes the responsibility of imparting knowledge skills to students who do not orally receive education but seek education at places and times suited to her personal circumstances".

 According to Dr. R.A. Sharma, "Open learning has a flexible, independent and free range of circumstances. A learner can arrange his or her studies to suit his/her need."




Distance education was invented to meet educational needs.

The following points are to be noted in favour of its requirement:

(1) To meet educational demand :

In modern age, there is an increasing demand for education from all sections of society. As a result of the growing population and inclination of the masses to education, formal education for all is difficult and therefore distance education is necessary.

(2) Life - long education :


Education is life - long process. Formal education is received only for a few years. In such a situation, distance education can be received for life.

(3) Universal Education:

In the modern age, education is not confined to a particular class and the principle of universality is accepted. This need led to the spread of distance education.

(4) To provide home education :


Even today many in the society are deprived of formal education. Generally women in the household are deprived of formal education and the need for distance education was felt as a result of the development of an educational system that could provide education to the people at home.

(5) To take advantage of technology education :

Distance education is also necessary to benefit of technology in education. As a result of the development of technology, radios, television, audio, videos, cassettes, etc. are not only a source of entertainment but are being used for knowledge - building.




In distance education multi - faceted means of educational technology are used.

Printed materials, audio - visual devices, computers, etc are used for the instruction and instruction.

It is a system of learning and learning which keeps fixed and stable text objects, time - learning methods free from restrictions of teaching, sitting face to face.

In this system students study in individual as per their ability and needs.


Here knowledge is not imposed from above, but students study as they will with their inner inspiration.

It solves student difficulties by organising a contact session.

It has an organized pattern of curriculum.

It is flexible, accessible, simple and expensive.

The system carries out specific objectives.

The benefits of this system are useful for those who are deprived of any kind of education by those who are at home, workers and neglected students.




It provides education facilities for all with limited resources.

 As a result of population growth, distance education reduces the pressure on formal educational institutions.

 This education is also useful with a view to expanding education and ensuring universal access to education.

 Distance learning provides golden opportunities to those who have been deprived of formal education or who want to enhance their knowledge even when they are in service.


 Distance education is self directed which encourages the learner to meditate according to his choice and speed.

 This education provides new knowledge to suit the need and the social need.

 This is an approach to education in which the learner does not have to approach the teacher, but he learns at home.

 It is less expensive and does not have any restrictions on time.




In modern environment the utility and need of distance education is very high but still it has some limitations. Here they are briefly mentioned:

(1) Distance education is a single way. A guide or counsellor arranges the same as he plans and a learner follows. This system does not take into account the sense of apprenticeship.

(2) Like formal education, there is no participation of teacher in this education. An important aspect of the teaching learning process is interplay with the teacher learner, but it lacks distance learning. The teacher works indirectly at a distance from the pupil.


(3) Distance education even though everyone has the freedom to learn according to their interest, aptitude and speed, but learning material is of the same kind for all and it takes into account individual differences.

(4) Through distance learning, theoretical knowledge becomes necessary, but there is very little scope to develop practical knowledge, because this method of teaching is only based on information.


(5) The streams of distance education become firm in time and they do not have elasticity or flexibility.

(6) no feedback is taken from the learners regarding the usefulness of text material.

(7) sometimes printed text material is not sent to the learners on time.

(8) In the link programmes, a consultant makes very little effort to resolve the problems of learners.