Online Learning vs. Distance Learning: A Brief Comparison

Distance learning

Distance learning or Distance education is a term used to refer to students who do not have to be physically present at a school, college or university in order to attain an education.

Its origins are college correspondence courses whereby education materials were posted to the student, with the majority – if not all – of the course learnt through a postal correspondence between the student and the educational institution. Today, distance learning is frequently used as a blanket term to refer to online learning despite differences between the two.

While most distance learning courses do have an online study component and include access to online learning materials, the key difference is that they often have workshops, summer schools or ‘residentials’ attached to the programme. As a result, a more suitable term for these types of courses is blended or flexible learning degrees. 

Online Learning

In Online learning or commonly known as E-learning, courses are 100% online, providing students with an incredible amount of flexibility in choosing where they learn, when they learn and even how they learn.

Online learning lets you study from wherever, whenever students have access to a virtual platform (Learning Management System) with recorded lectures, student resources and e-books, on top of access to the full digital library of a University. Interactive learning tools such as discussion forums, group projects or online self-test quizzes are used to keep students engaged in the content and encourage interaction with their fellow peers. 

Regardless of study preference one thing is true between distance and online learning: one must be disciplined and self-motivated.


A Learning Management System is a software-based platform that facilitates the management, delivery, and measurement of an organization’s corporate e-learning programs. The powerhouse of a complete learning technology solution, an LMS is a fundamental component of an effective learning strategy.

Learning management systems are used to deploy a variety of learning strategies across different formats, including formal, experiential and social learning to manage functions such as compliance training, certification management and sales enablement.

As for St. Peter’s College, it utilizes an LMS called Moodle to offer online learning to its students.

However, only the new curriculum subjects will be under the LMS and will be uploaded in Moodle. Subjects that belong to the old curriculum will utilize what we call Distance Learning. 

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