I'd love to share my joy of reading by participating in an online book club.
My physical disability prevents me from attending school.
I'd like to learn more about tax preparation, but I don't want to take a formal course.
My work schedule never meshes with course offerings.
I'd love to take classes, but I live too far from campus to attend.
Distance learning environments allow librarians, educators and schools many new opportunities. Teachers and learners have increased access to experts and information. No longer are classes made up of students who live in the same location or share similar backgrounds.
Students are exposed to a diverse environment of cultures, opinions, and resources. This diversity promotes cultural understanding, global awareness, and international connections.
Distance learning provides options for flexible course scheduling, independent study, informal learning, and varied communication channels. It can also address barriers of time, distance, physical disabilities, personal, and professional responsibilities.
Think about the wide range of online learning opportunities:
- formal, credit-based courses (i.e., British Literature course, American History course)
- seminars and orientations (i.e., library orientations, prenatal health seminars)
- informal, self-instructional courses (i.e., tax preparation, organic gardening)
- online clubs and group meetings (i.e., poetry club, romance readers, oral history group)
- virtual events (i.e., online conferences, virtual poetry slam, online author connections)
Read Johnson, Larry and Lamb, Annette (2009). Addressing Diverse Needs: Differentiation in Distance Learning (pdf document). Indiana Libraries (Journal of the Indiana Library Foundation & Indiana State Library); 28(3), 3-6.
The article addresses how broadly diverse contemporary distance education has become; it points out that distance learning encompasses all types of libraries and library patrons. The article poses some challenging questions for librarians attempting to serve these library patrons in their quest as distance learners.
Note: The entire issue of Indiana Libraries (2009; v. 28(3)) was devoted to articles related to distance learning (I have not found the publication online via database collections, but you may be able to access a print copy of the journal at a Indiana Library).
Think of different ways that distance learning can be incorporated in libraries. Don't forget to consider smaller elements or components within a larger library program.
Use the navigation bar on the left or the two links below to learn more about the basics of distance learning:
Distance learning environments provide:
- new learning opportunities.
- increased access to experts and information.
- exposure to a diversity of cultures, opinions, and resources.
- flexibility in learning options.
- ways of addressing barriers such as time and distance.