Distance learning

Distance learning refers to a learning setting where significant portions of a course are designed to be undertaken from anywhere, with no physical presence required. Such designs also afford a high degree of time flexibility, although some portions of such a course might require students to interact at specific times. More and more learning situations are incorporating distance learning elements such as discussion spaces, virtual collaboration and anytime access to materials and lectures, but might not be referred to as distance learning because the overall course is not designed to be undertaken without being physically present.

Case studies

Related tools and topics

Further reading

Practical help

Contact us with your questions about distance learning.

If you are developing a course which involves a distance element, you should read the principles for distance learning (see programme and unit approval guidance).


The issues involved will vary depending on the content and nature of the course, but you are likely to need to consider:

  • What special support and guidance might distant students need to navigate their learning experience?
  • What special measures might distant students need to feel engaged with their teachers and supported in their learning?
  • How might the design of the learning experience help motivate students in their studies in a situation where they might feel isolated?