ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Comparing Correspondence Education and Distance Education

Updated on August 2, 2013
Yoon Sik Kim profile image

A Ph. D. in English, Dr. Kim teaches at Murray State College. A bug rancher, he also keeps honeybees.

Distance Education Means Online Education


Comparing Correspondence Education and Distance Education

Sometimes correspondence education is called Correspondence Courses, Extension Courses, Extended Studies, Home Study, Continuing Education, External Studies, Self-Paced Studies, Independent Studies and Distance Learning (See Reference 1). Similarly, distance education is also called Cyber Education, Online Education, Virtual Education, Technology-Supported Education, Hybrid Education and Distributed Learning. Given the plethora of educational delivery modes currently available, students often get confused over the similarities and differences between correspondence education and distance education, further compounded by the fact that there are still other online delivery modes, such as synchronous live chats or hybrid online classes, among others.

What Is Correspondence Education?

Correspondence education, in fact, is part of distance education: a non-traditional instructional model in which all the course materials are sent to the learner via mail or electronic means so that she can master the materials on her own at her own pace—in the absence of an instructor. (See Reference 2). Once the student has studied the course materials, she will, via mail or electronic means, send back her work for feedback, analysis, criticism, and grading, thus completing the course. On the other hand, distance education nowadays largely means online education with various instructional delivery models, synchronous (instantaneous live chats) or asynchronous (recorded or archived live chats), using internet, TV, or other electronic means such as video or audio tapes. Both models came into being to implement, overcome, or improve the instructional limitations often found in the existing brick-and-mortar instructional model.

Correspondence Education


Correspondence Education and Its Historical Background

According to the University of Florida website, “Correspondence education, the earliest version of distance education,” was “developed in the mid-nineteenth century in Europe (Great Britain, France, Germany), and the United States, and spread swiftly” (See Reference 3). For example, as early as 1840, “an English educator, Sir Isaac Pitman, taught shorthand by mail.” In America, correspondence education began “in 1873 by Anna Ticknow,” who “established a society that presented educational opportunities to women of all classes to study at home.” Initially correspondence education incorporated many then innovative technologies, such as “lantern slide and motion pictures,” but radio broadcasting became a main delivery method after 1910, which will eventually metamorphose into TV delivery later (See Reference 3). Originally intended to educate “trade” instruction, the correspondence course started to offer courses in liberal arts for those who cannot, due to geographical distance and isolation, participate any on-ground instruction in brick-and-motor institutions.

Distance Education


Differences in the Delivery Methods

Correspondence education is much slower in pace than today’s distance education as it employs yesterday’s technology, such as mail or even radio; as a result, it relies heavily on the self-paced learning progress of the student, in the absence of a teacher, as it does not include any face to face interaction with the instructor at all, much less any interaction with other classmates; due to its intrinsic delivery method, the communication flow in a correspondence education is typically top-down, instructor-centered, and not student-centered, one way communication. In fact, it was first developed to overcome the challenges of access to university education, especially for women and servicemen via improved modern mail delivery system (See Reference 3). Unlike correspondence education, however, today’s distance education takes advantage of ever-improving, fast internet technology as well as ever-evolving instructional delivery methods; typically, the instruction is delivered instantaneously via live chat in the virtual classroom. Depending on the model of delivery, some schools may incorporate emails and live chats as well as audio or video recordings.


Differences in Academic Rigor

Today’s online education offers far more student-centered, interactive learning environment than the traditional correspondence model once did; in fact, the instructor and the learner can share a virtual class, interacting instantly during the live chat. Typically, today’s instructional platform will include a built-in instant message pod, in which students can type their questions for the teacher to see and respond, instantly. As a result of such virtual interaction, the teacher can offer individualized learning process tailored to the specific needs of individual students. To maximize such personalized learning, many online schools now use adaptive technology—a self-paced software program designed to assist various remedial needs of each student.

Furthermore, today’s distance education offers numerous opportunities for students to interact among themselves or with teachers, such as virtual communities, forums, discussion boards, webinars, teleconference, and other venues. Such peer-to-peer interaction, a dynamic part of learning, was impossible in earlier correspondence education. Similarly, today’s distance education resembles any brick-and-mortar education in that it offers just about all the infrastructures of a traditional school; for example, in place of a physical library, it offers cybrary or ebrary. In this regard, correspondence education was stagnant while online education is lively.


Convenience and Flexibility Factors

Both correspondence education and distance education allow students to be autonomous learners as they do not to adhere to the fixed schedules of an on-ground model; in fact, you do not have to drive to school or fight for a parking space. Since correspondence education leaves the learner alone, it offers more flexibility than distance education does. Some students might not like such “open flexibility” as it demands self-motivation, self-discipline, excellent time-management skills, and study habits. To a lesser extent, online education also offers autonomy since most of the live chats are usually archived so that students can check the recordings later at their convenience; if you work two to three different jobs, such accommodation will be good. Despite such flexibility, however, students must meet deadlines for posting their assignments and responses on the discussion board regularly. Depending on schools, you may have one or two such deadlines a week, thus reducing the autonomy.

1. Duke University: History of Distance Education (p.1)

2. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools: Distance and Correspondence (p.1)

3. University of Florida: History of Distance Education


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)