Distance learning refers to a way of teaching in which the students are not present in a classroom; the most part of the studies take place off campus. With distance learning the student gains, in contrast to normal lectures at universities and colleges, his knowledge through prepared scripts and multimedia educational materials. Recently distance learning has expanded rapidly – for example already more than 50 % of English universities and colleges offer some form of distance learning. Positive for the development of those courses are constantly improved communication methods like a virtual campus and forums but also the introduction of blended learning.
Business schools all over the world have now also adopted this approach and are offering their courses to students worldwide. They may have regional partner schools or centres, where their students may participate in courses, meetings, events or summer schools. Often partnerships also involve universities or colleges overseas that offer tutorial support of the provided courses. Distance learning MBA programs are especially suitable for busy business people. An alternative is the so called blended learning – a term that is used for programmes that are partly taught at a distance but involve other methods as well. Similar programs are the part-time MBAs. These are programs, in which the student attends the program for several weeks and then works for several weeks interchangeably.
A new trend in distance learning, which is well accepted by the students, is e-learning. E-learning includes all forms of learning methods that are electronically supported. There are also complete online degree programs, so called “virtual education” programs whose students basically study entirely in an online study room. Here, teachers and students can be separated by time and space, and special applications are used to provide the course content. No matter which method, successful completion of distance learning programs requires a lot of self discipline and commitment. This however is also known and recognised by recruiters who nowadays see online business degrees nearly as equal to a degree gained in the traditional way.