The Differences between eLearning & Distance Learning

Many people may not realize that there are some significant differences between distance learning and eLearning. While neither takes place in a traditional school or university, they are actually very different experiences. Both can make education more accessible, especially to parents or people working full time, or who can’t afford regular tuition fees which can be extortionate. Before deciding if eLearning or distance learning is for you, you should read the differences below and make sure you pick the right choice. You’ll know what style of teaching you prefer and the kind of support you need, so it’s definitely better to make an informed choice regarding your education.

One thing that these two methods of education have in common is lower prices, however, apart from that, they are pretty different. So, once you’ve established your budget, you may want to consider the following factors before picking a course:


Both eLearning and distance learning are fairly flexible, however, with distance learning, you are often sent the materials for a class and are expected to complete it and send it back to the tutor within a specific time frame, as the course runs along a syllabus. With eLearning, you can log on and do what you can, when you can, meaning you can occasionally skip a week, or do more work than usual if you have free time.


If you know you procrastinate and put things off, then you may prefer distance learning, as the materials have a deadline and the class follows a timetable. ELearning gives you a lot more freedom, which for some is appealing, but others may admit that having that freedom may lead to them never quite completing the online course. You know yourself whether you need reminders on when to finish work or whether you’re self-motivated enough to complete a course without external pressure, so this does come down to personal preference.


A lot of respected universities and institutions offer distance learning classes, that can lead to a real diploma and a useful qualification. Alternatively, just about anyone can set up an online course, and your qualification at the end may not be really useful. It’s important to check that the providers of either kind of course are properly accredited and authorised to certify you in relevant areas. This is an area that requires some research, as you should double check the legitimacy of any course before you pay to do it.


When you are learning online, you may not have a specific tutor to help you out with work and will do all of your communication online. Distance learning may provide a little less support, or you may have to wait longer to get feedback or responses to queries.

The Environment

Distance learning often involves sending reams of paper in the post – which is not great for the environment. Working online is much greener, but this aspect may not be important to everyone.

It’s commendable to be looking to improve your education, and either distance or eLearning can be valid options for self-improvement.