In a traditional sense, the concept of education is the transfer of contents, abilities and information from a “source” to a “user”. In this context, the Distance Learning (DL) tries to exert the same paradigm but using, as a preferred communication channel, the “new medium” par excellence, a computer connected to Internet.
The use of new media allows the creation of educational environments widening the service’s learning opportunities by an undefined number of potential users. DL paradigm goes beyond the space-temporal barriers of the traditional frontal education allowing practically unlimited widening of the body of users. The DL was born to make training and update operations easier, allowing the creation of educational occasions with undoubtedly cheaper costs.
DL is not a novelty. Similar experimentations were made years ago through what were considered new media 20-30 years ago, that is to say television and radio. Video and audio lessons went all over the world accompanied by the inevitable presence of paper as documentation, notes, studies in deep, journals. If we want to speak of innovation about DL, then we need to set the question into the used tool, that is to say the computer allowing the DL to evolve, as said in the opening lines, to the role of e-Learning, literally “electronic learning”.
Synthetically, today e-Learning allows:
- the ability reach an unlimited number of users;
- have access to information contents in any moment of the day;
- one to participate to virtual sharing moments, such as forums, chats, videoconferences, even remaining at a thousand-kilometer distance from one another;
- you to make recurrent learning verifications.
With DL, two innovative learning dimensions are generated. On one hand, the Web Based Training where the concept of learning self-determination prevails, which allows the user to establish access ways and times to update materials. On the other hand, the Collaborative Work ensuring the support to the whole community through the sharing of questions and discussions.
DL contents can be published in various formats.
Exploiting computer technology available today, besides electronic text, e-Learning is characterized most of all by multimedia contents. Video and audio files, e-presentations, images, drawings, diagrams and tables support traditional learning based on text and pictures.
The great opportunity is represented also by the various possible associations among the various formats, associations and correlations capable to enrich the educational moment in a staggering way.
The fields of DL application are obviously countless: from university education to professional update, from specialized education to communication on a large scale. In all fields of a modern organization, the model of information sharing is preferred and the DL model allows one to reach these aims with an effectiveness and a cost limitation that, up to now, were unimaginable.