Difference between Distance Education and Correspondence Courses

“Thanks to the possibilities of distance learning, time and geographic space are no longer meaningful barriers to learning.  Through distance learning, we bring experts to students and build a world community of learners studying important subjects in their own time and in their own vill'ages and cities.  We celebrate that reality as well as future exciting


 Dr. Richard Hezel, President & CEO, Hezel Associates and USDLA Board Member



Introduction and Concepts in Distance learning

What is distance learning

Explanation of Various Terms.

Glossary of Web Based learning


Practical self experience with Distance Learning?

Difference between Distance Education and Correspondence Courses

 Can skill oriented courses be covered by DE?

Technologies used in distant education

Instructional Qualities for Web Based Learning

Challenges of Web-based Learning

DE in providing medical education to non traditional students

Teacher and student qualities for distance education

Assignment - Preparation of Distance Learning Module

Evaluation of Distance Learning

Advantages and Disadvantages of e-Learning

Famous quotes

Discussion end- Compliments from Sir & Friends

Summary - Distance Learning


Now that we are well versed with distance education, How is it different from traditional ways of learning?

What is difference between distance education and correspondence courses?

I think it is quite clear from our discussion so far, that correspondence course is oldest form of distance education.

What I understand further is that correspondence courses are done to acquire a certain qualification whereas distance education by electronic media is more flexible towards learner's objective  and may or may not be for award of an added qualification.

You are right it is the oldest of the forms of distance learning.
According to me correspondence course is a subset of distance learning.

The typical correspondence course involves the exchange of teaching materials between a student and teacher geographically remote from each other. The student obtains a textbook locally, and lesson plans, lecture notes and problem sets are sent by the instructor to the student. The student sends completed assignments back to the instructor for grading, and exams are administered by a proctor local to the student.

Traditionally, a correspondence course could work no faster than the mail system. Actually things sent by mail are more synonymous with correspondence course.

With improvements in technology, communication has become virtually instantaneous.

Lecture notes and problem sets can be distributed by email or posted on a web site. Even textbooks can be distributed in electronic form as PDF files.

  Dr Tejinder Singh
Just a small correction- DE uses correspondence as one of the media for sending printed lessons- which could be both regular mail or pdf files. The material however, is the same as used by teachers for class room teaching.  DE uses specially designed learner active material with an in-built teacher to guide the student (again back to definition part: Moore says DE is a guided didactic conversation). It is important to make this distinction because in India, many people use these term inter-changeably. The one carry home message from this  month- DE is not correspondence education but much more than that!

I am not getting the point here. Do you mean that course content of correspondence courses is same as a normal class room teaching material whereas other forms of DE use specially designed learner active material.

Dr. Tejinder Singh
Yes- in correspondence courses, all that was done was to print the lectures taken by teachers and then send them by post. There was no difference between the regular and correspondence student, except that the latter did not go for classes. Otherwise, course, content and examination system was the same.

For DE, the material is specially designed to build a surrogate teacher to guide the student to learn. A  number of activities and feedback mechanisms are included and a component of distance teaching is included as well.

You might remember the feedback that I had shared on my Maastricht assignment 2 months ago- a typical example of distance teaching.

Comparison of traditional learning & online learning

Find herewith an article comparing Distance learning with traditional learning where the students are placing distance learning on a high note.

 MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching / Vol. 2 / No. 1 / March 2006
Received 29 Oct 2005; revised manuscript received 6 Feb 2006. 1
Maureen Hannay
Troy University Florida
Panama City Beach, FL 32408 USA
Tracy Newvine
Troy University Florida
Panama City Beach, FL 32408 USA

Universities have long experimented with different learning environments to accommodate the needs of their students. Along with the traditional classroom, we have seen the use of correspondence courses, courses on tape, televised courses, and most recently internetbased distance education. Utilizing a 22question survey with 217 respondents, who were primarily adult, parttime students enrolled in criminal justice courses, this research examined why students chose distance education, and student perceptions of the quality and difficulty of those courses as compared to courses taught in the traditional classroom. The data indicate that students strongly prefer distance education, largely because it allows them to balance their other commitments more easily. Respondents also perceive that they achieve higher quality educational outcomes in the distance learning environment. They do not believe that they sacrifice a quality education for the convenience of utilizing distance learning. While distance learning may be most appropriate at colleges and universities with large numbers of adult learners, commuters, and part time students, there may be some educational advantages for institutions to integrate some of the best aspects of distance learning into traditional courses to build a “hybrid” learning environment.