Distance learning, also known as distance education, D-learning/d learning is a network of imparting knowledge, instruction and education, to learners who are physically absent in a conventional environment such as a classroom. In spite of not being physically present, distance learning delivers education on an individual basis. It offers accessibility to education in a setting where the student and the source of information are not connected by distance or time, and sometimes both.
There are many distance learning / distance education courses available around the world. Some distance learning courses require a physical presence in a traditional classroom for specific reasons, such as taking an exam; these modes of learning are referred to as blended or hybrid courses of study. On the other hand, there are also vast open-courses offered by online schools known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) that provide expansive synergistic involvement and access to specific forms of education through the Internet or other forms of electronic technologies. This concept has emerged as a recent development in distance learning.
The first chronicled distance learning course, in modern era, was initiated by Sir Isaac Pitman, somewhere in the 1840s. Sir Isaac, introduced a system of shorthand techniques by sending transcribed shorthand texts on postcards through mails to his students. He invited transcripts from his students to correct their learning -- thus introducing a concept of student feedback. With the help of uniform postage rates across England, beginning from 1840, this crucial innovation of Pitman's system was made possible and became widespread.
Following the success of the early beginnings of Pitman's technique, the Phonographic Correspondence Society was established to launch shorthand courses on a more professional basis. The society further paved the way for the formation of Sir Isaac Pitman colleges throughout the nation.
Subsequently, the first university to offer professional distance learning certifications and degrees was the University of London that introduced its External Programme in 1858.