Distance/remote/online learning???

What’s it called?

There are a lot of terms being thrown around to describe what schools are doing right now. What are the differences? Which term fits what you and your school are providing during school

I decided to do a bit of research to clarify the difference between these terms and implications for special education services. It appears (as Mark Twain’s quote indicates) that it’s pretty important to use the correct term. 

Here’s what I learned from my research:

  • Distance learning: instruction delivered solely online to students at home, accessing strategically designed materials and working at their own time and pace. It includes no in-person interaction between the teacher and students. Instead, the teacher checks in via electronic means (email, messaging apps, video calls, discussion boards).    
  • Remote learning: temporary situation when learner and instructor are separated by time and distance and therefore cannot meet in a traditional classroom setting. Prepared schools can switch it off and on as needed.
  • Online learning: (also eLearning) digital lessons and assessments used by an instructor interacting with students together in a classroom. Viewed as one instructional option to vary learning opportunities and address diverse learning needs. 
  • Blended learning: an educational strategy that features a blend of digital and traditional teaching methods, with flexibility to differentiate for special needs.
  • Virtual or online school: a school that is designed for students to receive their education at home from certified teachers, integrating technology, personalized learning, and one-to-one interactions with teachers. Often these smaller schools can flexibly address special needs.
  • Home schooling: parents assume responsibility for their children’s education, withdrawing them from public education. State guidelines vary concerning parent qualifications, curriculum, hours per day, and assessments. States must identify students who qualify for special education services but vary in services for home-schooled students.
  • Homebound instruction: special education instruction provided by qualified specialists to students with IEPs at home or an institution, as decided by an IEP team, considered to be the most restrictive environment on the special education continuum because students have no opportunity to interact with their peers.  

So there you go. Now you can use the appropriate term to describe what you’re doing. As always, let me know what you think!


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