What Is Distance Learning and How Does It Work?


Published on: June 9, 2020 Last updated: February 10, 2021

Distance Learning in the Philippines | Moneymax

Gone are the days of traditional classrooms and face-to-face learning. As the pandemic changes the way we live, the demand for a more flexible learning opportunity also increased. To address this growing necessity, schools all over the Philippines shifted to distance learning—a remote learning method where students don’t need to attend lectures and can study at their own pace. Keep on reading to know more about this set up and its difference with online learning. We also break down the pros and cons and list tools and resources you can use.

What Is Distance Learning?

Distance learning is a learning method where the teacher and student are separated geographically[1]. There is no interaction between students, and little face-to-face interaction between students and their teachers.

In a distance learning set up, students may get their learning materials via snail mail, e-mail, or the internet. Learning assessments can be in the form of written exams or assignments, performance tasks, or portfolios. Students can also ask for support through the telephone, snail mail, e-mail, or instant messaging applications used by their teachers.

Also known as correspondence education, this method originally targeted non-traditional learners such as full-time employees or those who couldn’t physically attend a classroom lecture. Because of the growing demand for alternative learning arrangements, distance education now caters to almost every type of student.

Read more: The New Normal: What to Expect After the Quarantine

Distance Learning vs. Online Learning

Distance Learning vs Online Learning

Most people may think that distance learning and online learning are the same. While it’s an understandable confusion, there is a difference between them.

Distance learning is the “traditional” self-study course[2]. Teachers mail learning resources or students may get them online. Students also have to complete the learning tasks based on the schedules assigned. While students and teachers can use the internet as a medium to receive and submit assignments, they do not interact via online lectures or online forums to discuss the learning materials.

On the other hand, online learning heavily uses the internet as a tool for education. There is a physical distance between students and teachers, but they can interact during virtual lectures and other online assessments. Classes are often scheduled at a specific time, with students needing to be online to attend the virtual lecture. In this setup, students can also discuss the lecture or ask questions to their teachers in real-time. Additionally, they can interact with fellow students via online platforms.

Distance Learning Program

Most distance learning courses in the Philippines often cater to learners wanting to get a degree but can’t physically attend classroom lectures. Some of the institutions offering distance learning programs are:

  • AMA Online University
  • Asian Institute for Distance Education
  • Benguet State University
  • CAP College Foundation, Inc.
  • New Era University
  • Philippines Women University
  • Polytechnic University of the Philippines Open University System
  • Southville School and Colleges
  • University of the Philippines Open University
  • Visayas State University

The Department of Education (DepEd) also created an Internet-based education program (iDEP) and Open High School Program (OHSP) in 2011[3]. These programs made distance learning possible for high school students who want to study at their own pace without attending a traditional classroom.

iDEP offers formal secondary education for high school students using Internet-based technologies. Classes are conducted and managed online. Meanwhile, OHSP provides learning opportunities for students wanting to complete secondary education in a purely distance-learning mode.

The following schools offer iDEP:

  • Baguio City National High School
  • Florencio Urot Memorial
  • National High School—Cebu City
  • National High School—Davao City

While OHSP are offered in the following schools in Metro Manila:

  • Benigno Aquino National High School—Makati
  • Commonwealth High School
  • Gregorio Perfecto National High School
  • Quezon City National High School
  • Lagro National High School (Quezon City
  • Malabon National High School
  • Marikina National High School
  • Ramon Magsaysay High School—Cubao
  • Rizal High School – Main
  • Tinajeros National High School—Malabon

Aside from these schools offering iDEP and OHSP, there are distance learning programs for high school students offered by private academic institutions such as:

  • AMA Online Senior High School
  • Catholic Filipino Academy
  • Harvest Christian International
  • Treston International College

Read more:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Distance Learning

Distance Learning Advantages and Disadvantages

Distance learning may not be for everyone, especially for learners who like routines and schedules. To further understand if distance learning may work for you, look at these pros and cons of new normal in education:


  • Flexible. Since a distance learning course is a self-study, it offers flexibility in terms of location. You can study your materials anywhere as long as you get to submit your assessments on the agreed dates.
  • Saves time. Distance learning can also save you time. Once you’re finished for the day, you can do other errands or hobbies you have. You also don’t have to travel and be stuck in traffic to attend classroom lectures.
  • Cheaper. Distance learning programs offered by public schools are often free or come with only minimal fees. Programs offered by private institutions may also be cheaper than their traditional counterparts.
  • Self-paced. Different people learn in different ways. You can learn at your own pace with distance education. If there are lessons you find a bit hard to understand, you can spend as much time as you want to study them.


  • Minimal social interaction. Distance learning offers little interaction between students and teachers. Fellow students may also not be able to communicate at all.
  • Little support. Since this approach relies heavily on the student’s ability to study on his or her own, it is challenging to find additional resources for the assessments independently.
  • Accessibility may be a problem. Not everyone has gadgets or internet access. You may also find it difficult to get the materials for the courses if you live in a remote area.
  • Requires self-motivation. You may have a hard time finishing your assessments and study materials if you’re the type of person who needs an extra push to work. It is also easy to be distracted as your learning environment is not as controlled as that of a classroom.

Read more: How to Make Your Very Own Financial Recovery Plan

Distance Learning Tools and Resources

Distance Learning in the Philippines - DepEd Commons

Aside from self-motivation, you may need support to fully maximize your distance learning (or teaching) experience. Here are a few tools and resources that can help:

Website: https://literacy.concordia.ca/en
The platform offers a selection of game-like activities in English (and French!) for early learners, promoting reading comprehension enhancement.

Adarna House’s Eskuwelaro
Website: www.youtube.com/user/adarnahouse
Adarna and Raya School collaborated to bring storytelling and singing sessions for young learners. The videos are posted on Adarna’s YouTube page.

AHA! Learning Center
Website: www.facebook.com/ahalearning
Resources via AHA! are free for most Filipinos. You can get modules on creative writing, devotions, and wellness via Google Docs or Facebook Messenger.

Aperture Education
Website: http://info.apertureed.com/archived-resources
This platform offers free resources in social learning (SEL) growth strategies for parents and teachers. The materials also cover support for continued learning.

Website: https://www.brainpop.com
BrainPop encourages teachers and students to be more involved in the learning process. It offers free access to resources in Math, Science, Humanity, English, and more.

Cell Ed
Website: www.cell-ed.com
Cell-Ed is an online platform focusing on learner-centered and skills-based education. It offers offline options for students of the courses.

Common Sense Education
Website: www.commonsense.org
The non-profit organization offers tools and resources supporting school closures. It also offers tips on transitioning to online and at-home learning for teachers and parents.

DepEd Commons
Website: commons.deped.gov.ph
This educational platform is created to support distance learning in the Philippines. You can access online review materials and lessons on the website. You can browse DepEd Commons without additional data charges if you’re a Globe or TM subscriber.

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Discovery Education
Website: www.discoveryeducation.com
Discovery Channel’s online platform offers resources on science, history, and current events. It also provides ready-to-use digital lessons and learning resources for educators.

Knowledge Channel
Website: www.youtube.com/user/knowledgechannelorg/videos
The channel launched its Stay at Home, Learn at Home program with DepEd’ssupport. You can watch episodes and segments of shows like Sineskwela and ATBP through TV Plus Go, ABS-CBN TV Plus 7, and Sky Cable channel 5. Some episodes are also up on their YouTube channel.

National Library of the Philippines Online
Website: web.nlp.gov.ph
The country’s national library offers free online access to various scholarly titles covering different fields. You can access library information and science abstracts through the website.

Website: www.peardeck.com
If you’re a teacher, you can use this online platform to create more engaging learning content for your students. It offers various features that can make your instructional materials a little bit more interactive.

Philippine E-Journals
Website: ejournals.ph
Philippine E-Journals provides scholarly articles and papers in various disciplines. You can easily locate abstracts and related articles using the website’s database.

Robert Alejandro
Website: www.facebook.com/kuya.robert
You can learn art through Facebook by tuning in to Robert Alejandro’s live art sessions  The former Art is Cool host offers tutorials for both kids and adults.

Website: classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html
The publishing company launched a free online resource for students, parents, and teachers. You can get various materials for reading lessons on the platform.

DepEd Commons and Distance Learning in GCQ

Distance learning has become more valuable during the lockdown, with classes suspended from March 12 onwards for the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers had to adjust lessons and assessments to become more distance learning-friendly, while students tried their hardest to continue their education during a time of uncertainty. Despite the General Community Quarantine’s lighter rules, the need for distance learning grows as the country continues to fight the outbreak. To address this, the DepEd will be implementing a more robust remote learning approach when classes start in August[4].

The DepEd says that the lack of access to technology should not be a problem as schools will provide printed materials for students. There will be three methods of distance learning schools can use:

  1. For students without gadgets or internet access, printed modules will be delivered or picked up by their parents at designated areas during agreed schedules;
  2. DepEd Commons will be used for students with internet access. This online education platform is developed to support alternative methods of learning; and
  3. Radio and television will be used to deliver lessons. Radio-based instruction will use self-paced modules or printed materials converted into radio script.

Homeschooling may be another learning method to be used. Through homeschool, students will still access basic education. This method will be facilitated by qualified parents, tutors, or guardians. However, the policy for this is still under review.

Final Thoughts

The COVID-19 outbreak increased the need for distance learning. This setup offers little to no interaction between teachers and students. It is sometimes confused with online learning which uses the internet for virtual lectures, real-time assessments, and student-teacher interaction. Distance learning isn’t new but for most teachers and students it will still be quite an adjustment.

Related Article: Study Now, Pay Later: How to Get a Student Loan in the Philippines

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