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It is an undisputed fact that education is an important tool for the advancement of society. Quality education is seen as a largecontributor to positive outcomes such as improved socio-economic outcomes of citizens and the prosperity of the nation. Countries all over the world are therefore looking for the most effective education system that will lead to the best outcomes and yield high results. The most popular four of education is the traditional classroom learning environment, which includes students physically attending class and interacting face to face with their instructor.
However, technological advances over the past few decades have seen the rise of a new learning method that is online learning. Online learning takes advantage of computing devices and the internet to enable students to learn without having to visit physical classrooms. The question has arisen as to whether online education is better than classroom education. While classroom education remains the dominant form of learning environment, online learning is superior as it helps students to overcome constraints of time, distance, and cost, which are present in traditional learning.
Online education enables students to engage in learning at any geographical location, therefore enabling them to overcome the time and distance limitations that classroom education imposes. Bustamantenotes that some potential students have complex lifestyles that make it impossible to access traditional classrooms. Whether it be locational, personal, or other circumstances that greatly limit their mobility, many students just cannot physically make it to school. Classroom education requires the student to physically attend lessons at a scheduled time, which is a large disadvantage for many students.
This leads to increased pressure for those students who have other commitments, for example work, or military service. Such commitments are equally as important to education, however, little consideration is given by teachers. Not to mention that when a student misses class due to illness, they have already fallen behind significantly. Online education presents a solution by enabling the students to learn in virtual classrooms, instead of having to attend a physical classroom. Which means that no matter what condition you are in, you have a better opportunity and convivence to finish your work.
This presents a major advantage as individuals can enroll for programs in institutions that are located far away from them without having to worry about the distance. Furthermore, the virtual classrooms can take place at the time of the student’s convenience. However, some people argue that the lack of structure and pressure on the students leads to poor performance in the course (Bustamante, 2011). Smith declares that by removing the sense of structure from a course, students are left with the feeling that they are not under any pressure or constraint. The argument is also made that the lack of a constantly present instructor removes the motivation for students to do well. However, this argument ignores the fact that many online students are highly motivated to earn their degrees and certificates in their chosen fields.
In addition to these, the online course instructors provide quizzes, assignments, and exams just like in the traditional classroom. Students are penalized for failing to complete their work on time, which creates a great incentive for students to work hard. For this reason, the advantages online learning offers in terms of convenience do not lead to poor performance by students (Smith, 2011). Not to mention, that often times these types of courses encourage more day-to-day interactions amongst students in the form of discussion boards. Often times teachers will expect students to reply actively to other students a certain amount of times. These discussions can provide great insight as to which students are fulfilling the requirements and which ones are not. Teachers can easily pick up such information from these forums. Appana claimed that most teachers prefer this structure of education, because even they are highly alleviated in constraints in education. As many of us know, teachers spend an increasing amount of their day teaching, however, online learning allows them more time. This is true, because a teacher can simply create a video of the lesson whenever they pleaseand can reuse it for the same class but in different time lapses (Appana,2008).
Another merit of online learning has contributed to the lowering of tuition fees, thus enabling higher education affordable for more students. College education is a very expensive enterprise for most people, which has contributed to many people foregoing higher learning because of cost considerations. Another factor that most individuals do not realize is the cost of gas in such situations as well. Although many students reside on or near campus, there are several who commute. Since classes are not always back to back, these individuals are faced with one of two options. They can either remain on campus for hours awaiting their next class, or return home for the remainder, and by doing so, they are spending quite a bit in fuel. According to Allen (2008): “If a general economic downturn is seen as driving more potential students to enroll, does the increasing cost of commuting mean that more of these students will select an online alternative over face-to-face instruction? The results show widespread agreement that higher fuel costs will lead to more students selecting online courses” (Allen, page 10,2008). As we can see, with such increase in prices, many more students will leave traditional classrooms and enter into online courses. This will significantly reduce the amount of money spent in driving to and from universities.
Newstok acknowledges that one of the major advantages of online classes is that they are more affordable than traditional classes. Institutes offering online learning courses can afford to be cheaper since thy do not have to invest in the physical resources that traditional campuses have. The tuition fee can therefore be lowered since the school does not spend money on physical classrooms and laboratories, which are extremely expensive. For instance, whether we realize it or not, there are many expenses that universities must incorporate that most of us do not traditionally reflect upon. Some of which include utilities, computers, libraries, and desks. Such expenses surely add up in the long run, however, fortunately, online schooling eliminates almost all of these costs.
In addition to being cheaper, online classrooms make it possible for students to continue with economic engagements such as full-time working, while at the same time studying. Many students rely on these either part-time or full-time positions to buy books and other necessary expenses. Students do not have to forgo their occupation in order to study, which results in them being able to easily finance their education without being in overwhelming debt. However, those opposed to the idea that online education is cheaper since the institutes do not make the investments needed to provide quality education, but instead only focus on the profitability of the classes. Newstok documents that the distance- learning marketplace was initially flooded by private entrepreneurs who saw it as a good money-making opportunity. Without some doubt many online education providers have a strong profit motivation and less of a focus on students and their ability to afford such an education. However, these arguments fail to consider the profit motivation make it necessary for the online institutes to provide quality products in order to remain competitive (Newstok, 2013). Bustamante reports that institutes such as Rio Salado use the money they save from not needing physical classrooms to improve their online learning platforms and provide support services to students. As a result, the quality of education remains high even with the lower tuition cost benefits for the students (Bustamante,2011). Sometimes quality far exceeds quantity, especially in online platforms of educations.
An important aspect of online education is that it gives the country a solution to the problem of inadequate educational facilities. As it currently stands, the student population in the country has been growing steadily and the traditional higher learning institutes have been unable to meet the demand. Many impersonal relationships are formed between teacher and student. This relies on the fact that there are few teachers in comparison to the number of students. Little one-on-one time is permissible. With classroom learning, institutes of higher learning have to build new facilities to serve the expanding student population. However, the student population has been growing at a faster rate leading to many students being denied an opportunity to join campuses for the reason addressed above. Students seek personal and meaningful relationships with their teachers, however, that becomes difficult when there are simply too many students in a single classroom.
With online learning, no investment in physical infrastructure for the students are needed. This equates to a lot less money being needed in online schoolings. Although, some building is needed for organization of the affiliated university online, one opposed to several cuts expenses significantly. A college education has become important for many people in the society asBustamante observes throughout his article, some form of postsecondary degree or specialization is needed to get the best-paying jobs. Online learning has allowed millions of people who would be denied a college education to enroll for high-quality courses. Online learning infrastructure is designed to be scalable enabling it to easily accommodate more students.
For instance, mothers have a more equal shot at obtaining an education in online schools compared to traditional. However, arguments have been made that the quality of education offered by online learning is not of the same high-standard as classroom learning. Online learning courses often have very high student to tutor ratios (Bustamante,2011). Newstok reveals that some schools offer massive open online courses that have individual tutors dealing with hundreds of students. This leads to the provision of low-quality education since the tutor cannot cope with the student population. This argument ignores the fact that online learning utilizes technology to assist the tutor in dealing with more students than a teacher in a traditional classroom would. Tools such as customized learning management systems enable students to access course-related resources and support services without the input of the tutor. Faculty members also have a commitment to help students complete their programs (Newstok,2013). Showcasing that such arguments are quite irrational.
Finally, online education makes it possible to personalize the learning experience of individual students. Educators recognize that students have varied intellectual capabilities and make use of differing learning styles. For centuries, alternative educational methods have been researched. However, this knowledge is not harnessed to benefit students in classroom learning since the instructor has to use a uniform pace and learning style regardless of the specific needs of individual students. With online learning, students are provided with the technology that lets them choose. Since learning is asynchronous, individuals can learn at their own pace, which increases understanding of the content.
However, some people argue that the quality of learning is decreased due to the lack of close contact between the student and the teacher. Although, in my opinion, there is more of a connection. I have personally taken an online class, and the teacher was very responsive to my material, more so than in traditional schools. This relies on the fact that in classrooms, a teacher is generally limited to one hour of lecture, which means it is rather difficult to personally speak to each student individually. However, with online courses, the teacher has the choice of when and where to give feedback to students.
Newstok asserts that face to face learning is needed to promote creativity and increase learning outcomes. He goes on to state that this key ingredient is missing in the online learning environment as students do not interact (Newstok,2013). Kadvany echoes this idea by declaring that for higher learning to be beneficial, it has to have a level of personal interaction. This argument fails to consider the fact that online learning tools allow for great interactivity both among the students and with the tutor. Online learners are able to engage in real time discussions using chat messaging and video conferencing technologies. Therefore, while face to face interaction is not possible, the participants can still engage in real-time communication with each other and therefore foster the creativity that the traditional classroom environment enjoys (Kadvany,2011).
Education is an important tool for achieving personal success as well as advancing the nation. This paper has demonstrated that online education presents significant advantages to classroom education. It removes the time and distance constraints that have prevented many people from benefiting from higher education today. In addition to this, these learning method leads to greater enrollment by reducing the cost associated with education. The learning outcomes are superior since students are able to learn at their own pace because of the asynchronous nature of online learning. The arguments made demonstrate that online learning can be the future of education in the country. And quite frankly, that is a future that I would like to see. The United States education system has been negatively decreasing in value and organization. Although these typical methods of education have been woven into the education system, I think it is in dire need of changes. Such changes would not only benefit students, but also teachers, and tax payers alike. The economy would be do significantly better under these conditions in my personal opinion. Although opposer make valid points in these arguments, I still stand with my opinion on such topics. Online education is the way to go and educating other people on such ideas would reveal the truth of the matter.
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