Encounter refers to a degree of proximity, while distance education is characterised by the remoteness of learners. Questioning this apparent contradiction unveils the possibility of fostering deeper meaning through social learning and computer-mediated communication within distance education. Drawing on a structural comparative analysis of three philosophical and psychological concepts of encounter, this submission investigates encounter as an existential principle of education and analyses its appropriateness within online distance education. Exceeding the bare experience of others, encounter is anchored within the deeper understanding of a person or an object. This understanding may also be expressed within text- or video-based online communication. Further, in shaping personal relationships, distance education may prepare possibilities for encounter.