Distance learning

General Information

The many possibilities of distance learning

Subtitles available also in English

Research on Distance Learning (abstracts)

The charm of distance learning: A review of international literature

16 March 2012 / University of Turku, Centre for Learning Research

This review looks at international research literature on distance learning. Distance learning has long been used as an alternative to direct face-to-face instruction. The earliest applications of a systematic delivery of education and instruction at a distance date back to the late 19th century, and the International Council for Correspondence Education was founded as early as 1938. The modes of delivery, however, have evolved as new technologies have emerged. The focus of this review is on the ”new wave” of distance learning that has followed the introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and information networks.

The relevant research literature reviewed suggests that in adult and higher education distance learning has established itself as a mode of delivering education and instruction that can be useful in many situations where the traditional classroom setting is not feasible or convenient. Extensive research has helped in dissolving concerns that distance learning might have a notably adverse effect on learning results. Most research on distance learning in higher education has found that there are no differences in learning results when compared with classroom-based instruction The same applies to general education: no meta-analyses point to there being any differences in results between these two methods of teaching.

Learning environment survey – Distance learning in Finland

17 February 2012 / University of Turku, Centre for Learning Research

The aim of the survey was to examine the ways in which teachers in Finnish general education are using information and communication technologies as well as to identify areas for improvement, particularly with regard to distance learning. A survey questionnaire was sent in November 2011 by email to all elementary and upper secondary school head teachers in Finland. They were asked to distribute the questionnaire to teachers in their schools. A total of 2,493 teachers from across Finland completed the survey.
The survey would seem to suggest that Finnish general education at a distance mainly relies on the old, familiar ways of doing things. Teachers who provide distance learning tend to use applications and distance learning tools they are already familiar with, such as email, virtual learning environments and video conferencing equipment. In general, teachers expressed more interest in using the above-mentioned, familiar applications as opposed to new technologies. The results showed that teachers – including those who have never done teaching at a distance – have fairly positive attitudes towards distance learning. As for the factors critical to the success of distance learning, the teachers surveyed seem to emphasize factors that are much the same as those in face-to-face teaching environments, including interaction and the ability to motivate and activate the learners.

Results of a national survey on distance learning

22 August 2011 / University of Turku, Centre for Learning Research

The aim of the survey was to examine the status of distance learning in Finnish general education. The survey in spring 2011 covered 36 ongoing or completed distance learning projects in general education across Finland. A total of 142 teachers in 22 different distance learning projects completed the survey.

Distance learning is offered through a variety of different media and technologies. The survey would seem to suggest that distance learning is still predominantly delivered using very familiar information and communication technology tools (email, virtual learning environments and video conferencing equipment) and that there is a preference to use traditional teaching materials (textbooks, web-based open source materials etc.). The results also show that the most common methods of distance learning include, along with information sharing, instructor-learner interaction and the distribution of learning materials with the help of different distance learning tools. The survey also set out to investigate what kind of problems distance educators had encountered in their work.