The past decade has borne witness to a revolution in education with the acceleration in the use of online technologies to assist or in many cases supplant the traditional modes of instruction. Educators recognize the need to offer distance learning in the USA to meet the demands of the students of the 21st century and, as a result, many institutions are shifting from purely a campus-centered model of higher education to a more consumer-centered model, using newer online technologies. Educational institutions of distance learning in the USA use a variety of technologies in every state now to participate in online learning projects. Consequently, more students have an opportunity to advance their education within their home environments.
Distance learning in the USA, as the acquisition of knowledge and skills through mediated information and instruction, encompasses all technologies and supports the pursuit of life long learning for all. It is used in all areas of education, including Pre-K, higher education, home school education, continuing education, corporate training, military and government training, and telemedicine. In higher education, distance learning in the USA is providing undergraduate and advanced degrees to students in offices, at community colleges and at various receive sites. Students for whom convenience may be a crucial factor in receiving a college credit are earning degrees by satellite, audio and over the Internet.
Faced with retraining fifty million American workers, corporate America is using distance learning, both internally and externally, for all aspects of training. Many major corporations save millions of dollars each year, applying distance learning to train employees more effectively and more efficiently than with conventional methods.
The United States Distance Learning Association runs link programs, showcases and non-profit foundations, aimed at providing direct broadcast educational courses and information about distance learning institutions, offering degrees, certificates and interactive correspondence study courses in distance education and training. There are course offerings for the Bachelor, Master and Doctoral degree programs, as well as non-credit courses for adult learners and the others, who wish to pursue a specific skill or interest.
The US Distance Learning programs provide an education and training alternative in lieu of the traditional brick and mortar classroom. Research studies have been quite consistent in finding that distance learning classrooms report similar effectiveness results as reported under traditional instruction methods. Theory and practice are an interactive process in classroom discussions, blending academic theories, researches and current information with a personal experience, professional practice and values. Each student individualizes the classroom learning and gains further learning from putting theory into practice at work the next day. Educational materials are delivered primarily through live and interactive classes.
The intent of these programs is not necessarily to replicate a face-to-face instruction. Interactivity is accomplished via the telephone (one-way video and two-way audio), the two-way video or graphics interactivity, two-way computer hookups or response terminals. Over the next few years there will be over two million US students taking distance learning courses.