Distance learning (the use of telecommunications technologies to broadcast classes from a central location to remote locations) has become quite popular among colleges and universities, particularly with adult or continuing education courses. Since the late 1980s, it has also been used in elementary and high schools. Through a program supported by the Department of Education called the Star Schools Program, some 1.6 million students in all 50 states were receiving long-distance instruction by the beginning of the twenty-first century.
The benefits of distance learning are clear: access to lessons not otherwise available. This arrangement is useful for students living in remote rural areas, but it also proves effective in urban locations. While a distance learning experience is not the same as a person-to-person lesson, it opens up avenues for new experiences. Moreover, many distance learning programs are interactive and thus engage children in a way designed to hold their attention. As technology becomes more efficient and less expensive, it is likely that distance learning will make up a growing element of elementary and secondary education.