Every coin has two sides; similarly, online learning has Pros and Cons.
There are various reasons why online remote learning programs have become a popular form of distance learning in higher education today. The online environment offers unexpected opportunities for people who would otherwise have limited access to teaching and a new illustration for educators, developing dynamic Courses of the highest Value.
Here is a list of a few of the significant benefits of online programs.
- The main advantage of online learning is that it allows students to participate in high-quality learning situations when distance and schedule make on-ground learning difficult-to-impossible. Students can participate in classes from anywhere globally, provided they have a computer and Internet connection. Furthermore, the online format allows physically challenged students and teachers more freedom to participate in class. Participants access the Virtual Classroom through their computers in place of having to “go to class” physically.
- The Virtual Classroom is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Time efficiency is another strength brought by the online learning format. Nonparallel communication through online conferencing programs allows professionals manipulating work, family, and study schedules to participate in class discussions. There is no question about doing the work; do it at the more suitable times. Students can access their courses at any time of day or night. Further, they have continuous access to lectures, course materials, and class discussions. This is incredibly convenient for those who may need to reread a lesson or take more time to reflect on some material before moving on.
- In the online environment, learners have a certain measure of Invisibility. Judicious factors, such as age, dress, physical appearance, disabilities, race, and gender, are mostly absent-minded. In its place, the focus of attention is clearly on the content of the discussion and the individual’s ability to respond and contribute thoughtfully and intelligently to the material at hand.
- It is easy to include notable guest experts or students from other institutions in an online class. Moreover, today’s students have access to resources and materials that may physically be l anywhere in the world. An instructor can compile a resource section online with links to academic articles, institutions, and other materials relevant to students’ course topics to access research, extension, or in-depth analysis of course content material.
- The fiction of adult education supports collaborative learning environments as contributing to self-direction and critical thinking. Some educators have made great strides in applying these concepts to their on-ground teaching. However, many classes still exist, which are based on lectures and rote memorization of material. The nature of the Virtual Classroom’s semi-independent and self-directed world makes innovative and creative approaches to instruction even more important. In the online environment, the facilitator and student collaborate to create a dynamic learning experience. The realization of a shift in technology makes the hope that those who move into the new technology will also leave behind bad habits as they adopt this new paradigm of teaching. As educators transform their courses to benefit from the online format, they must reflect on their course objectives and teaching styles. Many of the qualities that make a successful online facilitator are also tremendously useful in the traditional classroom.
While online programs have significant Pros and offer unprecedented accessibility to quality education, there are cons essential in using this medium that can pose potential threats to the success of any online program. These problems fall into five main categories:
- Technology: Equity and Accessibility to TechnologyBefore any online program can hope to succeed, it must have students who can access the online learning environment. Whether it be for economic or logistic motives, a lack of access will exclude otherwise eligible students from the course. This is a significant issue in rural and lower socioeconomic areas. Moreover, speaking from an administrative point of view, if students cannot afford the institution’s technology, they are lost as customers. As far as Internet accessibility is concerned, it is not universal. In some areas of the United States and other countries, Internet access poses a high cost to the user. Some users pay a fixed monthly rate for their Internet connection, while others are charged for their time online. If the participants’ time online is limited by the amount of Internet access they can afford, then instruction and participation in the online program will not be equitable for all students in the course.
- Computer Literacy: Both students and facilitators must possess a minimum level of computer knowledge to function successfully in an online environment. For example, they must be able to use a variety of search engines and be comfortable navigating on the World Wide Web and be familiar with Newsgroups, email. If they do not possess these technology tools, they will not succeed in an online program; students or faculty members who cannot function on the system will drag the entire program down.
- User-friendly and reliable technology is critical to a successful online program. However, even the classiest technology is not 100% reliable. Hence, it is not a question of if the equipment used in an online program will fail, but when. When everything is running smoothly, technology is intended to be a low profile and used as a learning process tool. However, breakdowns can occur at any point along with the system.
- Online learning has its most promising potential in the high synergy symbolized by active dialog among the participants, one of the most essential learning sources in a Virtual Classroom. However, in larger classes (20 or more students), the synergy level starts to shift on the learning continuum until it eventually becomes an independent study to accommodate the broad category. At this point, the dialog is limited as well as interaction among participants and the facilitator. The medium is not being used to its most significant potential.
- The curriculum of any online program must be carefully considered and developed to be successful. In an institution’s haste to establish distance education programs, the importance of the curriculum, and the need for qualified professionals to build it are often overlooked. Curriculum and teaching methodology successful in on-ground instruction will not always translate to a successful online program where learning and instructional paradigms are quite different. The online curriculum must reflect the use of dialog among students (in written communication) and group interaction and participation. Traditional classroom lectures have no place in a successful online program. Education of the highest quality can and will occur in an online program provided that the curriculum has been developed or converted to meet the online medium’s needs.
Today is an inspiring time for technology and education. Online programs offer technology-based instructional environments that expand learning opportunities and provide a top-quality education through various formats and modalities. With the unique needs of adult learners who need or want to continue their education, online programs offer a suitable solution to conflicts with work, family, and study schedules. Higher education institutions have found that online programs are essential in providing access to education for the populations they wish to serve. For an online program to be successful, the curriculum, the facilitator, the technology, and the students must be carefully considered and balanced to take full advantage of this format’s strengths and, at the same time, avoid pitfalls that could result from its weaknesses.