Distance learning s a method of teaching in which the students are not required to be physically present at a specific location or time during the term. Instead, teachers and students communicate by exchanging letters through way of mail, or even emails. Some may also communicate through technology that allows teacher and student to communicate in real time. Physical presence is normally optional for tutorials and normally only mandatory when exam time arrives.
Most often, regular mail is used to send written material, videos, audiotapes, and CD-ROMs to the student and to turn in the exercises. E-mail, the Web, and video conferencing over broadband network connections are used as well. In some countries, the material is supplemented by television and radio programming. To compete with the conventional sector, course material must be of very high quality and completeness, and will use modern technologies such as educational animation.
With distance learning, as with any other, both full time or part-time study is possible, but most students choose part-time study. Research study is possible as well. Distance education is offered at all levels, but is most frequently an option for university-level studies. A form of educational program which is similar to this but which requires some amount of presence during the year is a low-residency program.