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Distance education

Distance education is a method of teaching in which the students are not required to be physically present at a specific location during the term. Most often, regular mail is used to send written material, videos, audiotapes, and CD-ROMs to the student and to turn in the exercises; nowadays e-mail and the Web are used as well. Often students are required to come to meetings at regional offices on specific weekends, for example to take exams. Distance education is offered at all levels, but is most frequently an option for university-level studies.

Full time or part-time study is possible, but most students choose part-time study. Research study is possible as well.

One of the oldest distance education universities is the University of South Africa, which has been offering DE courses since 1946. The largest distance education university in the UK is the Open University founded 1969. In Germany the Fernuniversitšt Hagen was founded 1974. All three are now Mega Universities. In 1999 the European Graduate School went online from both Switzerland and the [U.SA].

Distance education is an outgrowth of correspondence courses, which arose from the need to provide schooling to students in remote, sparsely populated areas that could not support a school. Such courses are generally offered at the primary or secondary level, often with the students' parents supervising their education.

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