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Defining Distance Education


Distance learning is formal learning activity in which participants and instructors are separated by geography, time, or both for the majority of the instructional period. Distance learning materials come in a variety of media, including, but not limited to, web-based programs, print, audio recordings, videos, broadcasts, computer software, and other online technology. Instructors support distance participants using methods including, but not limited to, communication via mail, phone, e-mail, and online software, and through face-to-face instruction.


Who is a Distance Learner?


A distance learner, for federal reporting purposes, is a participant in distance education who has more proxy contact hours than direct contact hours at the end of the program year. Distance learners are reported on NRS Table IVC: Educational Gains and Attendance for Participants in Distance Education. Distance learners are a subset of participants with proxy contact hours.

A participant with proxy contact hours is a participant who engages in distance learning and has completed at least one proxy contact hour. A participant with proxy contact hours will not be counted as a distance learner unless the total number of proxy contact hours exceeds the total number of direct contact hours.

A non-distance learner is a participant who has fewer proxy contact hours than direct contact hours or no proxy hours at all.