In his article “The Idea of a University,” Roger Scruton stated that the university does not just exist to impart expertise or information (Scruton). To Roger, the university is a society where students absorb the accomplishments and graces of a great form of life. Above all, 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. Therefore, some educators promote a new type of training, online education. Online learning has some advantages for students because they can learn new knowledge more conveniently and faster. However, online training also brings some adverse effects on students. If the technology or the Internet shut down, students would delay their learning. In the writing project three, I will clarify the pros and cons of online education.
First, online education has received much acceptance on account of its cheapness. Such is the case that online courses are more affordable than those offered at trade schools or colleges. While studying in collages may at times present some costs such as transportation, housing, and meals, online education may not entail such expenses (Billitteri, pg 12). It is also important to note that online training saves students from immigration problems as all a student needs to do access to the Internet and begin the learning.
The next advantage is the convenience advanced to students concerning deciding when to study and for how long. Unlike in colleges where students take their courses based on some annual or semester, students get the rare opportunity to schedule their studies around their work or even social schedule. The case has it that students are not limited to a classroom, and thus they may do their work whenever they have the chance to access computers and the Internet. Therefore, students can set their own pace and choose precisely how fast they wish to go over the course.
Flexibility is the other advantage attached to online education. This is specially brought by the idea that the program does not have set class times and places, which gives students the room to decide when to complete their readings and assignments. Due to this flexibility, students can carry out their official or private work concurrently with their online education. The advantage of time flexibility allows students to log in and log out whenever it seems convenient, unlike traditional culture, where such flexibility is absent. Another critical point is that online education allows students to have control over their studies so that they can give more time for topics they feel is hard and vice versa. Here, the learning pace depends entirely on the students.
Online education is also preferred for its allowance to access a wide range of resources. In this case, students have an open chance to involve notable guest experts or fellow students from other institutions in an online environment as well as permit students to get information and resources from across the globe. Here, an instructor can pull together a resource section in the online environment and link it to institutions, scholarly articles, and other study materials related to the course topic. These resources are made available for students who undertake research, extension, and comprehensive study of the course materials in the global learning environment.
Adult education literature allows the use of an interactive learning environment, a factor those points to the benefit of creative teaching. This advantage contributes not to permit students to employ their self-direction but also to make use of their critical thinking skills. Because of the self-directed and semi-autonomous environment in the virtual classroom, instructors efficiently use creative and innovative approaches that make learning enjoyable. In the virtual classroom, facilitators and students work together to develop a dynamic learning environment that encourages the adoption of new technologies. This new technology offers the hope that students will adopt new habits and paradigms of teaching and leave behind bad habits (Kiener, pg 16).
Online education is also known to offer the benefit of synergy. Here, the format applied makes room for dynamic interactions between students and the instructors and the students. Through these interactions, ideas and resources are shared, and an ongoing synergy developed through a learning process. Such is the case that each person contributes through discussions and comments on made on the work of others about the course. This unique benefit is presented in a student-centered virtual learning environment that online learning format alone can offer.
Apart from the many advantages presented above, online education offers other benefits that include; Accessibility, Self-Directed study, High-Quality Dialog, Student-Centered learning, broad Access to Resources, and Creative Teaching.
As always is the case, every good thing has its dark side, so online education also presents some weaknesses. The first disadvantage revolves around the issue of technology equity and accessibility. With online training, students must have accessibility to the online learning environment for the program to succeed. Such is the case that lack of it be it for logistical or economic reasons, will bar otherwise eligible persons from the classes. This is a real problem in rural areas and the lower socioeconomic region. Taking an administrative ground, if students find a problem paying for the technology employed by an institution, they automatically fall among the lost customers. Talking about the issue of equity, some student’s time online is restricted by the amount of access they can pay for (Doan, & Aaron, 35). Internet is not universal; some people spend a fixed monthly charge for internet connection, while others can only afford to pay for the time they take online.
The next disadvantage is the need to poses Computer Literacy. Here, both the facilitator and students must have minimum computer know-how to function in the online environment successfully. For instance, they have to learn to use various search engines and be acquainted with the application of the World Wide Web, Newsgroups, email, and FTP procedures. Such is the case that if a student lacks these technology tools, he/she will not succeed in an online program. It is also important to note here that a faculty member or student who fails to function under an online system drags the whole program down (Clemmitt, pg 13).
Online education presents another problem on the ground of the new technologies/skills required. People who are not computer-savvy or fear change will likely find this program unsuitable. As an online student, an individual will always be needed to learn new skills that may include reviewing and researching the Internet. Additionally, online students need learning navigation skills while using an online library to get the necessary information.
Another disadvantage is the limitation presented by technology, bearing in mind that technology’s reliability and usability are critical to successful online education. Most online training tries to employ the most appropriate technologies; however, even with the most sophisticated ones, it is hard to get 100% reliability. Techniques are prone to failure due to breaking down. For instance, server hosting the program can crash and, as a result, interfere with the students; a student’s PC can present issues that limit his/her access, or even the internet connection can fail (Alcorn, & Ezekiel, pg 32).
The other disadvantages are The Facilitator: Lack of Essential Online Qualities, wrong Perceptions/Reputation, No Instructor Face Time, Little Support for students, students Lacking Social Interaction, lack of Campus Atmosphere, and lack of Academic honesty of online students:
In summary, online education has come as a convenient alternative to traditional college education, which has, in the past, dominated the learning environment despite its many disadvantages. Online training offers numerous advantages that have made the learning process more affordable and accessible. However, there are specific weaknesses identified as accompanying the entire program. In this regard, a well-balanced approach to online education that will see the disadvantages minimized and the strengths fostered can serve well to see students gain the most out of the online program.
- Alcorn, Brandon, Gayle Christensen, and Ezekiel J. Emanuel. “The Real Value Of Online Education.” Atlantic 314.2 (2014): 58-59. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5Mar. 2015.
- Billitteri, Thomas J. “The Value of a College Education.” CQ Researcher20 Nov. 2009: 981-1004. Web. Mar 5. 201
- Clemmitt, Marcia. “Home Schooling.” CQ Researcher Mar 7. 2014: 217-40. Web. Mar 5. 2015
- Doan, Kim, and Aaron Bloomfield. “The Effects Of Browse Time On The Internet On Students’ Essay Scores.” Tech trends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning 58.6 (2014): 63-72. Academic Search Premier. Web. Mar 5. 2015.
- Glazer, Sarah. “Plagiarism and Cheating.” CQ Researcher Jan 4Jan 4 2013: 1-28. Web. Mar 5. 2015.
- Kiener, Robert. “Future of Public Universities.” CQ Researcher Jan 18. 2013: 53-80. Web. Mar 5. 2015.
- Scruton, Roger. “The Idea of a University.”The American spectator. Web. Feb 18. 2015.