Distance education (distance learning) is simply defined as "a field of education focusing on delivering education to students who are not physically in a classroom or campus setting." In its simplest terms, it means earning a degree online.

The use of electronic and printed media enable students to improve their knowledge without attending lectures on a university or college. Online education enables the students to study at their most convenient time, via Internet technologies that allow them to communicate with their lecturers in real time.

Since physical classroom attendance is not a requirement to complete coursework, distance education courses are highly sought after especially by people working on full time basis. By choosing a distance learning program, you are enabled to reach your educational goals without giving up on your other life commitments such as family and job. This also comes along with other far reaching benefits, including:

1. Flexibility - Distance learning programs are designed to suit your lifestyle. It doesn't matter whether your job involves a lot of traveling or if you work at night and sleep during day time - as long as you can find some time you can enroll in a distance education program.

2. Reduced expense - There is a significant reduction of expenses in areas such as travel expense, housing costs, child-care, and loss of earnings. Online education also saves time since there is no time spent commuting to classes.

3. Unlimited options - It is possible to study any course regardless of your location. Many distance learning programs have several short terms throughout the year so that even if you can only take one courses at a time, it is easy to end up having taken four or five classes in a year.This can give you an edge over most traditional college programs, which have three semester (fall, spring, and an optional summer term).

4. Diversity - Distance learning programs offer a conducive environment to interact with students from a wide range of backgrounds, work and life experiences. This makes learning more enriching and lively.

5. Financial aid - In most cases you can get student loans and income tax credits for participating in a distance learning programs.

6. You do not have to keep up with the pace of the group. This works well for those who seem to always be behind or ahead of the group.

7. Easy access to learning resources. The teacher, other students, library are only a click away.

Being enrolled in a distance education poses a lot of advantages and many people are taking advantage of it. People from all walks of life are accepted in this kind of educational setup, provided they pass all the requirements and meet the standards. The best part is that there are a lot of credible distance education universities online such as Kaplan, DeVry, AIU and many more.

Here are distance education great advantages:

1. Accessibility - Anyone who is interested to apply in distance education can do it all online. This provides the applicant with the freedom to choose when or how he or she is going to apply. You can access the university's sites anywhere you are, whether at a net cafe or through your mobile phone.

2. Less pressure - This means that you can learn without being pressured by your classmates or teachers. You have your own time and space to study your lessons. You can either learn by reading or listening. There are different course materials provided to students online such as video, audio and text. So you can just listen, watch or read the course material repeatedly in case you did not understand a certain part.

3. Posting questions and queries are entertained - Another distance education great advantages is that you can post your questions anytime in discussion boards. And your classmates and teacher can both join in on the discussions. You can also direct questions to your professors through emails.

4. Financial aids: Not everyone is able to afford educational fees or are able to relocate to attend school. Online universities also provide financial assistance to those who qualify. They have forms online and guidelines on how they process it. So if you are planning to attend school and need financial assistance, accomplish the forms needed as soon as possible because the process may take awhile since there are a lot of students who might also be applying for assistance.

5. Flexibility: You own your time and you get to fit school with your schedule provided that you submit requirements at the time set by the professor/s. This is one of the main reason why distance education was created in the first place.

From groceries to clothing, everything you buy goes through some form of quality control. It's the reason your milk cartons are always sealed, and why the jeans you spent half your paycheck on look perfect. Since the distance education you're considering will be a big financial investment, you should expect the same kind of quality assurance in your online investment. Fortunately, online learning programs have many ways to assure that the education you're paying for is worth the money.

Four Major Aspects of Quality Assurance in Distance Education

The quality assurance programs in distance education look a lot like their traditional counterparts. There are four major aspects of quality assurance for distance learning:

1. Faculty Quality

Though you may never meet your instructor face-to-face, quality assurance programs review the faculty to make sure they have enough education and experience to work in distance education.

2. Study Time

Schools are required to spend a minimum amount of time each semester on courses. Students should also have study materials and the ability to contact the instructor.

3. Student Support

In an online learning environment, you should have access to help when you need it. The best distance education programs focus on student support, making sure that questions you have about fees, courses, and your degree can be answered quickly and correctly.

4. Program Goals

Distance education institutions make program goals, and quality assurance makes sure they meet those goals. Knowing that the school you have chosen to earn your degree with is achieving its program goals consistently will give you confidence in the quality of education you are receiving.