The fundamental characteristic of distance education programs is that students and faculty are geographically dispersed. Teaching and learning in distance education programs can take place through cable television, extension classes, and videotape. The beginning of digital tools has led to educational applications of CD-ROM and the Internet. The easiness with which content can be accessed and information distributed by the Internet enabled pedagogical inventions and has eased the rapid increase in distance education instruction and programming.
A very sundry set of degree programs comes under the term distance education, and these programs vary from those using usual classroom coaching offered at an extension site to those that are primarily electronically mediated and provided over the Internet with little or no face-to-face interaction between participants. There are courses between these extremes that clarify an array of learning experiences, a few of which are electronically mediated and others that are distributed by modalities usually seen in on-campus programs (e.g., face-to face lectures, discussion, and supervision).
Professional programs may also utilize learning and practical familiarity, such as concentrated residencies in which faculty and students occasionally meet at the same location for face-to-face learning experiences. They may also offer practical experiences (e.g., practicum and internship) near the student’s society. Because online programs are the most commonly seen forms of distance education, there is an affinity to suppose that all distance programs are entirely provided over the Internet.
There are countless doctoral training programs in certified psychology not currently accredited that provide one or more online educational degrees in which instruction and other program elements are offered primarily through electronically mediated techniques over the Internet. They also have necessities that teachers and students meet together for residency sessions that range in length from several days to 3 weeks.
Distance education programs state that they request adult learners who are in middle of their career and for whom it would be tough to give up job and move their families to a campus-based program. Thus, they ask most to those with master’s degrees in psychology who are offering human services, who do not have trouble-free access to traditional residency-based professional schools or university programs, and who are incapable to move or wish to remain in their current communities and work settings. Other groups that are mainly served by distance education programs are persons in the military or living in rural, frontier, or offshore societies.