Learning at a distance is similar in many ways to learning in a classroom environment, but there are some significant differences. Teachers of distant learners must accomplish the same general goals as those working in conventional environments, but separation from the learners means some of the teacher's challenges take on special forms.
For example, the learner is frequently insecure in the absence of the teacher and apprehensive regarding his/her progress in the absence of close feedback and perhaps absence of peer learners. The student becomes more insecure if the direction of the course is not very well structured, and if it is not very clear where he or she is in relation to its completion. The phenomenon of "drop-out" is much more common in distance than conventional education, i.e., it is easier for a student to exercise the option of withdrawing from the relatively impersonal relationship of a distance course than it is from a conventional curriculum. In response to such concerns, the distance teacher has to take various measures to ensure the course is very well structured, with clear objectives and well considered allocation of students' time. The communications media must be used in attractive, rewarding, and therefore motivating ways.
Finally, in every system, no matter how large, while some part of the instruction may be most appropriately mass-produced on audio or video tapes, or in texts, or transmitted by broadcasting, somewhere in the system must be individual instructors who are known to the students and who are skilled in ensuring that materials produced in mass are used by each individual in creating his or her own knowledge.