There are those who think that distance learning is something recent. But, amazingly, this teaching model has existed for years, but in another format: through correspondence.
It was the letter course, still in the 18th century, that started the model we know today, in which it is possible to take undergraduate, graduate, free and professional courses without necessarily having to attend a physical classroom. But you must be asking yourself: how does the distance learning system work?
But first, what is distance education or distance learning? By definition of MEC , “distance education is the educational modality in which didactic-pedagogical mediation in the teaching and learning processes occurs with the use of information and communication means and technologies, with students and teachers developing educational activities in places or different times ”.
In short: it is one of the most innovative and practical ways of studying and training people today.
And now, to understand how the EAD education system works, let’s divide this content into stages. Come on?
What will you read in this article?
- How the distance learning system works: know everything!
- The context of EAD
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning
- And, today, what is the profile of the EAD student?
- But in practice, how does the EAD system work?
- Undergraduate and graduate courses
- Free courses
- Inside the EAD structure
- The future of EAD
How the distance learning system works: know everything!
The context of EAD
Distance Learning closer to what we know today began with the Telecurso model, with classes being broadcast on TV and in the telesrooms, which were spaces for physical meetings that took place at certain intervals. This model, today, is known as semi-face-to-face, since the student needs to attend a physical classroom at some point.
The popularization of the internet contributed to the fact that, in Brazil, distance learning started to spread to more regions. However, while she contributed, she was also an impediment to people who had a low speed internet.
The content videos took a long time to load and, many times, the student ended up giving up on completing the course. Today the reality is different. More than 60% of Brazilians are already connected to the internet , which ensures that more people have access to quality education, regardless of where they live.
Online courses gained more strength as universities – public and private – began to invest in distance learning. The challenge was to show people that the certification for the online and face-to-face course was the same, since it was common for most students to think that the face-to-face diploma is superior to distance learning.
As distance learning became more popular, other models emerged, such as free and professional courses, which do not require MEC certification. In these courses, the contents are aimed at people looking for ways to specialize with market references and with themes that go beyond university theory.
According to research carried out by the Brazilian Distance Learning Association, which interviewed 2,000 young people in the country, about 44% have already taken an online course and, of this number, 56% were young people who took a free course on the internet.
Also according to the survey, most courses were taken for the purpose of professional training.
Want to know more about how distance learning came about? Check out Marcelo Tás’s explanation in the video below:
What are the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning
The distance learning model offers several advantages for students who choose it, such as:
- Flexibility: the student can take the class at any time and from the location they prefer;
- Economics: a distance course costs, on average, 3 to 4x less than a classroom course;
- Autonomy: you make your schedules and define the study plan;
- Interactivity: it is possible to interact with people from completely different places;
- Variety of courses: there is no need to restrict yourself to courses near your home or work;
There are also some disadvantages compared to the conventional classroom. However, each person has their own pace of study and these disadvantages may not make sense to you. Some disadvantages can be:
- Low socialization: interaction between students is limited to discussion forums and there is no physical contact;
- More organization is needed to carry out the tasks;
- It depends on a fast internet to have access to quality videos;
- Absence of practical (or laboratory) classes, in some cases;
- Retention: the dropout rate in this model is higher than in the face-to-face course.
We list here the points that, in general, people consider as a disadvantage of distance learning. But, the success of EAD will make sense according to the student’s profile .
- Learn how to attract studentsto distance learning.
And, today, what is the profile of the EAD student?
Today, there is a small difference between the profile of students in distance education and classroom teaching. Generally, students looking for distance learning are over 28 years old, already working and looking for training that complements their activities. The average age of this student fell from 42 years, between 1995 and 2000, to 33 years in the last 7 years.
Meanwhile, the profile of the face-to-face student is a recent graduate, between 18 and 21 years old, and who has the availability to, at times, study during the day and dedicate himself exclusively to the university. These data were taken from a study released by Veja magazine in July this year.
- Discover the best practices for student retention in distance learning!
But in practice, how does the EAD system work?
When we speak of a distance education course, we are not only referring to those who are completely online. There are also semi-presential classes, in which the student has at least one classroom class per week or in another period defined by the institution.
There is still a variation within the semi-presential, in which students go to a teaching pole and, there, attend classes on a screen. It is a way for the teacher to be able to contemplate more students with the same content at the same time, and for the student who does not adapt to a 100% online model to be able to study.
There is no ideal course model, but the one that best suits the student’s routine. Let’s get to know these models and examples of them?
Undergraduate and graduate courses
When we think of distance learning courses, the first ones that come to mind are undergraduate and graduate courses. This is because today, mainly, most universities – public and private – already offer this modality and have invested in them as a way of attracting more students to the institution.
But, about 20 years ago, when these courses started to appear, it was more common to find only pedagogy courses for teachers. Today, distance learning courses exist in the most diverse areas, such as administration, economics, marketing and even engineering. This contributed to the number of students in this modality increasing considerably: there are about 1.5 million students in distance learning.
Another model that has grown and attracted more and more new stakeholders is the free course.
Without the need for prior training or dedicating a long period of time to it – as is the case with graduation -, they offer direct, quality, professional content and at a lower price.
In order to supply the market demand, several institutions started to invest in this modality – including renowned universities, such as Fundação Getúlio Vargas, for example, which has free investment courses , financial planning, marketing, negotiation, etc. Through free online courses, they train thousands of young people and adults each year.
Some institutions even invest in these course models as a way to attract students to larger courses, such as postgraduate courses. Two examples are the Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing , which offers several free courses that provide the ESPM methodology for a student who wants to invest in an MBA, for example, and the Cásper Líbero Faculty, in São Paulo, with Cásper Digital , offering courses in the area of communication and audiovisual.
A student who already knows the methodology of the institution, even after a brief contact, is more likely to return to another course. It is still a way to capture leads and contacts from potential customers , right?
In addition, online, there are numerous companies that are already specialized in free courses – free or not. Some even offer international certifications without the student having to leave home for this. Below, some of the examples we have separated:
- FGV Online;
- EF – English Online.
- Want to set up an EAD? Check out content ideasto launch your business
Inside the EAD structure
To build a successful EAD, it is necessary to think about the whole structure that exists behind the project. Anyone who thinks that only good content is capable of sustaining an education business is wrong. It is necessary to think about the user experience to engage and retain it in its course.
The VLE – Virtual Learning Environment , also known as LMS (in Portuguese, Learning Management System) is the system that will gather all the content for your student.
As its name implies, it will function as the student’s classroom on the internet. This is the place where it should contain all the complementary content for the student’s training and where he should have contact with the teacher.
So it is essential that this environment is easy to access and very intuitive. It is there that the distance learning student will be guided to his training.
- Read more about the structure required for an ODLand the steps to open a distance learning institution
The future of EAD
Distance learning is a modality that will help more and more people to have access to quality education. Therefore, this is a model that is here to stay and has been gaining more and more fans – students and institutions.
Due to the demand for these courses, the offer also increased considerably. In 5 years, enrollment in free courses jumped from 755 thousand to 4 million. Therefore, when investing in the creation of an EAD course, it is necessary to invest in the differentiation of the content and the way you present it.