Newman argued that the university should not simply exist to provide knowledge or information. To Newman, the university is a society, where students absorb the accomplishments and graces of a great form of life. The search for the truth and the lively discussion of its meaning are incorporated into a broader culture, in which the perfect concept of a man is recognized as the standard. A man does not just know things, he is receptive to the meaning, the tone, the life that makes it lives in people, the air, and everyone should grasp all these from those in whom it already lives in. Therefore, a university in Newman’s period was a place where men, lived for study, ordered their lives around the sacrifice that study necessitates. Shaped by Newman’s views a university is seen as an ideal place of study; however, this can be far from reality. In some instances, the investments parents invest in university education can result in negative results. This has given rise to homeschooling. This article will examine online education, and highlight its advantages and disadvantages.
The modern technology envisages a new form of a university known as ‘distance learning.’ In distance learning students learn from home, receive tutorials, attend classes and take part in discussions over the internet (Scruton n.p). As internet technologies advance and become more interactive, the need for universities to create a physical space, other than in cyberspace. Distance learning occurs in virtual communities, and these communities in university education may be more volatile than in actual communities. Distance learning or E-learning as they are known is more manageable and responsive to the requirements of many students. The virtual learning programs provide more of what is offered in the humanities’ department, and offer the added advantage of selecting your professors from all over the globe, and incurring a proper market price for them (Scruton n.p). The concept of virtual education offers the type of study that envisions Newman’s views. Online learning will offer students the kind of learning environment, which ensures that students focus on their schoolwork. The main plus of the noble concept is that learning can be tailored to the work and life schedule of the students. The level of knowledge and interest varies from one student to the next; therefore, online education enables students to tailor their education needs to suit the requirements of all the students (Scruton n.p). Other than this, the learning modules are self-paced, which allows the students to study at their pace, thereby, ensuring a high level of understanding. It provides students with the flexibility of studying anywhere, provided that they have access to the internet. Online education removes the disturbance that usually exists in schools and ensures that the student adequately concentrates on his or her education (Scruton n.p).
In spite of numerous advantages, online learning has its disadvantages. One of its major disadvantages has to do with lowly motivated students or students with a bad habit; these students will fall behind because of the flexible learning environment (Scruton n.p). This can derail them to catch up, thereby, resulting in them dropping out of school. Without the structures of a routine class, student can get misplaced especially during the course of the study (Clark and Mayer 12). Virtual education can cause students to become confused about the nature of the work, course activities and deadlines. It is hard to stimulate practical lessons, in some cases, despite the move to online learning; it would be appropriate to attend some classes at the university. By doing so, it will ensure that students can have access to the necessary materials of study, which can only be offered at the school. This form of learning is only appropriate for students who are conversant with computer skills. It presents significant challenges for students who are not knowledgeable with computer skills (Allen 7).
Online education is technology dependent. This form of education relies on technologies of the certain specification as dictated by the service provider or e-learning supplier. This may become a huge challenge for students because not every student has technological appliances that meet those specifications. The ability of e-learning to become effective depends on the ability of students to utilize it. Online learning requires high bandwidth capabilities, which is not readily available. The level of bandwidth varies greatly from one service provider to another, which can affect learning. Material incompatibility is another factor that affects online learning. Most online learning materials are designed to suit a particular system, for instance, Microsoft, which is not compatible to with systems that use Apple Macintosh system. Although, setting standards will help in this area, it will also restrict the access to online education. Online education is not for everyone, especially people with disabilities. Online education is highly reliant on the sense of sight, which then refuses access to the visually impaired. Online education may cause students to feel isolated from the tutor or instructor. The tutors are not always available to help leaner; therefore, learners require the discipline to work independently without the instructor’s help. Students learning through online education require good communication and writing skills. When students and teachers are not meeting face to face, the chances of misinterpretation are high. E-learning requires as such time for attending classes just like the traditional classrooms, which means that students must have motivation, urge and self-discipline to attend all classes and commit to their work. Students with low commitment and bad study habits will most fall behind.
Business organizations are beginning to acknowledge the value of online degrees. They perceive an online degree just like any other degree (Allen 8). The rapid change in the technological environment informs the need in the approach to learning. Online degree offers the employee and employers some flexibility in balancing work and life needs, thereby, ensuring that the firm gets the best out of their employees (Clark and Mayer 13).
The university was not only founded to share knowledge; it is a place where leisure and work existed side by side, shaping one another, and each playing its role in generating a graceful and well-formed personality. A reader today is more likely to accept Newman’s views about the university, as he describes it; it is an institution of irreplaceable value.