Distance education or distance learning is a field of education that focuses on the teaching methods delivered using technology and instructional design systems. Distance education degrees are also referred to as correspondence courses. These programs make use of computer-based training to educate students. The University of South Africa has been offering distance education courses since 1946. The Open University in the United Kingdom founded in 1969, is the largest distance education university. There are many private and public, non-profit and for-profit institutions offering courses and degree programs through distance education.
The programs designed are concise and well structured, so as to make the subject matter easily understandable. All forms of technology like radio, television, audio-video conferencing, computer-aided instruction and on-line learning are used. Some institutes may also provide the study-material in hard copy or soft-copy as per systems. There are also student counseling services available. Distance programs are designed for all age groups. There is no age criteria for admission to any program. In most cases, anyone who has a high school diploma can enroll. Renowned universities are usually accredited with a license to carry distance education programs. Typically, the programs have a flexible degree programs, and have examination centers all over the country. The Internet is used as a medium for conducting on-line tests in many cases.
Accredited colleges and universities offer these distance learning degree programs in accounting, paralegal, healthcare, business management, engineering, electronics, computer science, marketing and hospitality management. Programs in associate and diploma studies in subjects as varied as criminal justice, industrial engineering technology, computer Repair, computer specialist, veterinary technician, floral design, medical coding and billing are also offered in the distance education system.