Distance education is learning that takes place from a distance or outside of a traditional or physical classroom. Distance education has existed since the mid-1800s and first presented in the form of correspondence courses for students learning to transcribe shorthand. During the 1990s, personal computers started to become a household standard, and with the development of the internet, learning from a distance became more convenient and easier to accomplish.
While distance education may have begun as correspondence courses, it has now grown into a large assortment of instructional formats offered in partial or full education programs. These formats include online courses, credit-by-examination, massive open online courses (MOOCs), training and certificate courses, as well as blended or hybrid classes.
Distance education offers students a monitored class experience with structured online courses that require them to participate in weekly discussions and assignments. Or they could choose a more self-governed experience where each student is responsible for their own learning by preparing for exams worth credit and participating in open online courses. Self-governed learning provides student with maximum amount of freedom when pursuing an education, while a monitored approach offers students order and clear direction to keep them on task while completing a degree program.