Distance learning is educational instruction and information that is offered to learners who are usually physically away from the origin of those instructions or information. It provides opportunity to individuals who could not have the time and money to pursue the traditional classes because of the distance from the learning facilities and high costs of undertaking the course. This kind of learning has been made possible because of internet expansion which has been witnessed in recent years. The main tool used by learners in the distance learning programs is the internet.
The internet provides them with learning information in different formats such as sound bits, music, voice and graphics which can be represented in a unique type of artwork like video and animation. Other tools which can supplement the internet include: emails, online video conferencing, news groups and mailing list (Duffy, p. 55). Advantages and disadvantages to individuals Advantages: Distances learning provide individuals with flexible schedules. For example, some colleges offer synchronous learning such that students taking a given class start and finish at a given time.
Others offer asynchronous learning where each individual is given the opportunity to choose the time to enroll for classes and usually they are allowed to learn at a speed they feel is convenient to them. They give an individual an opportunity to advance his/her education without leaving his/her job. People can advance in their field of specialty through taking specialized career training courses. The courses do not affect the present employment which is one of the benefits that distance learners get to enjoy.
Online learning is cheaper compared to traditional classroom learning. This is because the costs of moving to and from the college are eliminated and other fees that campus students have to pay like medical insurance are avoided (Minoli, p. 43). Disadvantages: There is social isolation. Unlike studying in traditional classes, distance learners often study alone. This brings a sense of isolation but thanks to recent technological advancements such as online chat rooms, teleconferencing and discussion forums which have helped alleviate this problem.
There is no immediate feedback. Unlike traditional classrooms where the students’ performance is analyzed by asking questions and offering informal tests, distance learning students have to wait for a longer time for their instructor to review their work before providing a feedback via email or other means (Porter, p. 77). Does distance learning offer equal opportunity? According to Porter (p. 77), distance learning may not be suitable for each and every individual.
This is because, for one to succeed in the program, he/she must have self discipline and be highly motivated. The course is mainly unmonitored meaning that learners are left with the full responsibility of ensuring that they continue with the course and analyze their mastering ability in various subjects and skills by themselves. The programs are available to anyone who is qualified but he/she has to be disciplined for him/her to complete the course successfully. There are no barriers which are being generated because of the use of technology to deliver college education.
This is because; it encourages competition between academic institutions which promotes collaboration between businesses, academia and industries thus ensuring that learners are given quality education (Minoli, p. 43). How might distance learning serve to increase the gap between the haves and have nots? Because distance learning involves the use of advanced technology in teaching, individuals who have limited access to this kind of technology like those in third world countries may be locked out.
Since education is the key to a bright future, these individuals may not have the opportunity to be educated and learn new ways to sustain them thus they will continue languishing in poverty. Works cited Duffy, P. James. College online: how to take college courses without leaving home, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1997: p. 55 Minoli, Daniel. Distance learning technology and applications, Boston: Artech House. , (1996): P. 43 Porter, R. Lynnette. Creating the virtual classroom: Distance learning with the Internet, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. , (1997): p. 77.