With distance learning , in contrast to face-to-face studies, most of the study takes place off campus . In contrast to face-to-face lectures, the student acquires his knowledge through specially prepared scripts, face-to-face seminars, multimedia teaching materials and performance control based on the correction of submitted tasks or exams.
The term distance learning, which leads to the achievement of an academic degree (e.g. diploma , bachelor or master ) and which takes place at a state or state-recognized university, must be distinguished from distance learning , even if both terms are used synonymously. Online studies are an internet-supported form of distance learning .
The Rustinsche Lehrinstitut for self-tuition in Potsdam (later Düsseldorf ), which was founded before the First World War , was the first and until the 1960s also the only provider of systematic distance learning ("Rustin Method") in Germany. The institute also published the first magazine specifically devoted to distance learning.
Rustin's teaching institute had three founders: the architect Simon Müller, the wine merchant August Bonneß and the bookseller Robert Hachfeld; the word "Rustin" is an artificial word and should be effective in advertising. Since 1903 the institute has been issuing lesson letters in preparation for the Abitur examination.
The first distance learning courses were originally referred to as correspondence courses , as the student and the supervising institution were in contact with one another by post. Traditional distance learning often has high drop-out rates because of its anonymity and the lack of time for the mostly working students. In the times of communication via a virtual campus, forums, blended learning and the introduction of bachelor / master courses, the demand for academic distance learning has increased again.
In the GDR , the first distance learning courses with a university degree as their content were introduced in the mid-1950s. In all courses of study, distance learning was gradually possible and made it possible for employed people to obtain an academic degree as part of the second educational path and could lead to a doctorate. In addition to distance learning, evening courses have also been set up in some cases. It is not uncommon for these existing further training opportunities to be closed for cost reasons after the fall of the Wall.
An electronic form of distance learning is the online course , in which course content is provided in audio, video or written form via the Internet. Teacher support usually takes place via chat, video conferencing, e-mails or telephones. In addition, shorter attendance and examination phases are usually offered at a university. A digital “learning space” enables digital and interactive learning materials to be offered over the Internet, as well as communication between teachers and students and between students. Compared to traditional distance learning, online courses are characterized by lower dropout rates. The free time management of the students is the same for all methods - which requires a high level of self-motivation. A study of 300 German companies with at least 150 employees in January 2007 showed that distance learning graduates are recognized by HR managers.
Provider in German-speaking countries
In the Federal Republic of Germany, the FernUniversität in Hagen, founded in 1974, with over 85,000 (as of June 2013) students is not only the largest provider of distance learning, but also the largest university in Germany. Through a state treaty between the federal states, it was given the state mandate to offer distance learning beyond the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. For a long time, it was the only notable institution in western Germany and later in Germany as a whole that offered academically oriented distance learning. In Switzerland, the "Universitäre Fernstudien Schweiz" foundation works with the Fernuniversität Hagen, but also offers its own courses. In Austria there is a cooperation agreement with the Johannes Kepler University Linz . Furthermore offers the Fernfachhochschule Switzerland (FFHS) since 1998 federally recognized polytechnic degree programs in distance education combined.
The largest private, state-recognized provider of distance learning courses is the IUBH International University with over 20,000 students (as of August 2019), followed by the HFH Hamburger Fern-Hochschule with over 10,000 students. Other providers include the AKAD University with 32 test centers nationwide (which was the first private German remote university of applied sciences), the SRH Fernhochschule - The Mobile University , the APOLLON University of Health Economics in Bremen, the Wilhelm Büchner University , the Private University of Applied Sciences Göttingen , the European Fernhochschule Hamburg (Euro-FH), as well as the Diploma University with nationwide study centers.
Increasingly, face-to-face technical colleges and universities are also offering distance learning courses or further education distance learning. This is implemented in different ways. Models have been established within the university, with their own company or institute organized under private law and through cooperation with other providers. Examples of the cooperation model are the distance learning courses offered by the Technical Academies and also by the European University Association. The German University for Continuing Education (DUW) in Berlin with its distance learning courses was founded as a so-called "public private partnership" by the Free University of Berlin and the Stuttgart Klett Group and was taken over as a commercial company from 2015 by Steinbeis GmbH based in Stuttgart. The Wismar University offers its own private law Fernstudienzentrum WINGS to part-time distance learning courses with a state university Bachelor, Diploma and Master. A university technical engineering distance learning course offers z. B. the TU Dresden in the courses of civil engineering and mechanical engineering . The Distance and Independent Studies Center of the Technical University of Kaiserslautern (DISC) specializes in postgraduate (continuing education) distance learning courses . The Central Office for Distance Learning at Universities of Applied Sciences (ZFH) in Koblenz, as a scientific institution in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Saarland, in cooperation with universities of applied sciences, offers part-time distance learning courses in economic, social and technical fields. The Center for Distance Learning and University Further Education (ZFUW) at the University of Koblenz-Landau offers scientific further education in the fields of natural sciences / technology, human sciences and management in cooperation with the departments of the university. The ZFUW program at the University of Koblenz-Landau includes distance learning courses with master’s degrees, distance learning courses with specific job-related content, university certificate courses, and day and weekend seminars. Since October 2019, the private Macromedia University has also been offering distance learning programs in 10 fields of study in the fields of business psychology , media and communication management and general management . The distance learning can be studied part-time and as a full-time course completely online.
In Germany, Catholic theology or religious education cannot be taken as distance learning at a university or technical college, but only at the cathedral school in Würzburg . However, the course is recognized by the church and qualifies for church service. In Switzerland you can study Catholic theology as a distance learning course at the University of Lucerne . The study there even entitles to ordination as long as the minor subject is also theological in nature.
An evaluation by the Federal Statistical Office for the 2013 reporting year shows that 29% of students at private universities in Germany are enrolled in distance learning courses. In contrast, only 5 % of the students at public universities and only 2% at church universities are enrolled in a distance learning course.
National interest groups in Germany for distance learning and distance learning are the DistanceE-Learning forum and the working group for distance learning at universities (AGF) .
The situation in Austria: An English university, Middlesex University , also offers - in cooperation with the Austrian KMU Academy - distance learning with eight different focuses for the German-speaking area. The University of Liverpool is represented in Austria with a range of distance learning courses through Higher Education Services GmbH. With the change in the legal situation for so-called university studies, the private Austrian WWEDU has been offering new distance learning courses in cooperation with the FH Burgenland since the beginning of 2013 .
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