In the education world, terms like online learning and distance learning are used quite often and interchangeably. However, there are certainly significant differences between online and distance learning and using them interchangeably is wrong.
Online learning is much more than mere technological advancement of distance learning. It comprises of virtual learning environment where the lectures can be recorded to help students go through the concept again.
Not everybody has the same time table that would fit the needs of the lecture hours; recording lectures would ensure that those students study as per their schedule. Lecturers are available for the students in online learning, and they can interact online. This gives students a chance to resolve their queries.
It is also known as the correspondence course and is basically all about self-study. The students that enroll in a distance learning program are provided with study materials and other resources via email or post or an online learning platform.
Students are supposed to study and complete their tasks and assignments in the given time frame so that they are moving as per the course schedule. The amount of interaction between lecturer and the student is pretty limited.
Also, the students almost never interact with their fellow students. Students who have other jobs or careers usually choose distance learning because they can study according to their pace and within the time limit they are comfortable in.