Online learning is a modern way of learning that is supported by technological applications and the students can learn from anywhere in the world. This method replaces the traditional universities which require students to be taught in lecture halls. Technology has revolutionized education and it has made it cheap fro the those can not afford the real education programs in universities (Thomas, 2011). This program allows students to interact with their teachers and even exams are offered online. It is a convenient way of learning while doing other activities. This essay seeks to examine the advantages and disadvantages of online learning. In addition, the essay will provide survey questions with respect to this topic.
As a point of departure, the online learning system is advantageous in numerous ways, which include an opportunity to learn at one’s discretion and for almost free of charge. This mode of learning is effective and flexible since it allows the students to complete their assignments and remain with time for hobbies and even part time jobs (Brosche & Feavel, 2011). Moreover, the online learning system, enhances self discipline and responsibility amongst the students since, they are left to manage their time alone, there is no monitoring.
On the other hand, the disadvantages include, lack of motivation to study competitively for good results, because of lack of group discussions and motivation. The students who adopt online learning method lack the chance of interacting their peers or teachers and this leaves socially challenged. It is imperative to note that a university education does not only offer academically, but also political, social and economic aspects of life (Anderson, 2008). In addition, online learning can be a challenge to students who want me on a course that involve practical such as engineering and architecture.
In essence, the online system should be perceived as a complement and extension of classical forms of learning. It is imperative to note, that not even the most excellent online course can replace the traditional classroom mode of learning. Hence, the traditional classroom should not be replaced by the online learning (National Center for Online Learning Research, 2002).
Kirtman’s report (2009) suggests that the outcomes of students studying either online or traditionally are quite the same. The most important factor of such a result is the importance of interaction. It is obvious that the level of interaction between students and teacher is high during traditional classes, meanwhile, according to Kirtman (2009), “Students overwhelmingly reported that the most important aspect of teaching and learning online is the small and large group discussions.” Thus, the report proves that the level of education’s efficiency is mostly dependent on the interaction during studying. This makes unreasonable fears about the inefficiency of online studying. What is more, online mode allows to employ student-centred teaching approach, “Web-based learning environments permit the instructor to build one course, yet implement a variety of resources, so students can utilize materials in whichever way works best for them” (“Educational Benefits of Online Learning”).
Moreover, the online mode broadens the margins of available education, according to Oblinger (2000). Oblinger (2000) proves, “The desire for lifelong learning and educational flexibility and the growth in student populations are among the trends fueling this growth.” In fact, education is no longer related to the students exclusively, but it is rather related to anyone seeking additional knowledge. Thus, according to Harvard, it is possible to save both time and and the diploma faster.
Meanwhile the lack of face-to-face communication is considered to be the most important disadvantage, according to Melody et al. (2012). It leads to procrastination, misunderstanding, lack of attention and distraction. Melody et al. argue that this the class factor, as when student are there, they are more concentrated and motivated to study. In addition there is an additional teacher’s control while studying online requires much self-control and patience. Surprisingly, but Melody et al. (2012) also argue that students realize that these are the main distraction. In fact, the survey conducted by Xu and Jaggars (2011) proves,“Students were more likely to fail or withdraw from online courses than from face-to-face courses.”
The methodology used while conducting the survey was a questionnaire. It consisted of 14 questions and was aimed at asking current students about their attitude towards online education and find out what are their opinions about its the future of online. The questions were open-ended so that they didn’t contain any suggested answer offering the respondents to write what they want in special space provided on the form. In addition, it also had an introduction and background information.
The significance of the latter should not be underestimated, since in terms of communication, the introduction is the only way to motivate the respondents to complete the questionnaire as well as to ensure them to make sincere responses. Moreover, the introduction gives a necessary comments and instructions for the respondent to the questionnaire.
The survey was conducted among graduate students aged 17-29 studying business administration and business management.
In the first survey the respondent’s position is against online education. He is a full time student who is satisfied with his current mode of learning. Online education means nothing to him and he also doesn’t want to change his present mode of studying to online for the remaining years. However, this student has admitted that online education will prevail in future. He also has some friends studying online who can save their time thanks to such education. His suggestion about first year studying engineering is definitely traditional class room.
The second respondent has a different opinion since his preferred mode of learning is online education and he is moderately satisfied with it. This respondent doesn’t want to change his current mode. The main advantage of learning online for him is saving time, especially during summer or being ill. For instance, online education allows him to work part-time 20 hours per week. He also has some friends studying online and believes that online education will overtake traditional one in future. However, the second respondent admits that traditional education can be good under some conditions. For instance, if it is necessary and compulsory to attend classes, one should choose traditional mode, in case it is not, online education is preferable.
The third student prefers online education, but still wants to have some courses studied in the class. On one hand, online education allows him to save time and travelling costs, while on the other hand he admits that it is worth visiting classes one day per week for having interaction with the class. In fact he would like to change his current mode of studying for online one with taking at least one course in class every semester. He also has some friends studying online and believes that in future online education will replace traditional one. However, considering engineering course, this student thinks that traditional mode should be chosen firstly in order to enjoy class with students and then it can be replace by online studying.
Thus, having considered all the surveys, several points may be defined with regard to online education. First of all, two out of three respondents admitted that online education is more convenient since it helps to save time and travelling costs. It is also very useful in case of illness, for instance. What is more, it allows to spend some time for work, one them, for instance, works part-time 20 hours per week.
Another point is that all three students have admitted that in future online learning system will replace traditional mode of studying. This is the only point which is common in all surveys which means that all of them understand that technologies in education are the future. What is more, all of them have some friends studying online, who are quite satisfied with their education. This fact shows that online education is quite spread nowadays.
Moreover, all these students firstly advised traditional mode of studying for a first year aspiring to take an engineering course. However two of them thought that online can also be chosen later.
Of course there are some limitations when conducting such a survey. First of all, the answers that do not reflect the true beliefs of the respondents may influence the results of a study. It can be triggered by improper wording of questions about abusive or personal nature that does not allow respondents to give a good answer to a representative. In addition, respondents may specifically make any mistakes, deliberately trying to manipulate the results of the survey. Respondents may also feel under social pressure, which does not allow them to give an unpopular answer, which leads to inefficient results. Considering the answers in these surveys, for instance, some of them were detailed and reasoned whereas in one survey they were very short. In addition, though the survey provides for the answers it is still impossible to find out whether they are completely honest and true.
Secondly, it is well known that the wording of the questions, the order in which they are set, and the number of forms of alternative responses can have a significant impact on the results of the survey. A common method to control this error is to use in a questionnaire several variants of the same question or create as many questions as may be needed in order to cover all aspects of the problem and to meet inaccuracies. For instance, this survey tries to show all the advantages of online education because there are additional questions asking about its benefits and advantages. However if the respondent answers that he doesn’t prefer online studying he doesn’t have to write his arguments because there’s simply no such a question and, thus, his opinion doesn’t count.
Finally, the outcome of the survey may also be affected by a wrong sample. It is related to the fact that the survey should cover as many different people by attributes such as gender, age, income level, and so on. Otherwise, that the sample is considered to be unrepresentative. Considering this survey, the number of respondents is only three, they all are Asian by race, 17-29 aged and study similar subjects. Thus, all the consequences are related only to such a group of student.
Therefore, according to the survey conducted, online education has great future and is likely to replace traditional mode. Of course in doesn’t provide an interaction with the class. On the other hand it helps to save both time and travel costs and is more available in cases when traditional mode is impossible, in case of illness, for instance. It also gives possibilities to work simultaneously with studying and, thus, get necessary experience. Finally, online mode of studying contributes to the spread of mass education, making courses available compared to the traditional full-time education.
However, it doesn’t mean that traditional education is ‘dead’. On the contrary, it is still the main method of studying and online education is considered only as a complimentary method with great prospective.
National Center for Online Learning Research (U.S.). (2002). Journal of interactive online learning. Tuscaloosa, Ala: National Center for Online Learning Research.
Anderson, T. (2008). Theory and practice of online learning. Edmonton: AU Press.
Brosche, T. A. M., & Feavel, M. (2011). Successful online learning: Managing the online learning environment efficiently and effectively. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett.
Thomas, M. (2011). Online learning. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
Kirtman, L. (2009). Online Versus In-Class Courses: An Examination of Differences in Learning Outcomes. Issues in Teacher Education, 18(2). Retrieved December 5, 2014.
Oblinger, D. (2000, April 1). The Technology Source Archives - The Nature and Purpose of Distance Education. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
Alexander, M., Truell, A., & Zhao, J. (2012). Expected Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning: Perceptions from College Students Who Have Not Taken Online Courses. Issues in Information Systems, 13(2). Retrieved December 5, 2014.
Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. (2011, March 1). Online and Hybrid Course Enrollment and Performance in Washington State Community and Technical Colleges. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
Educational Benefits of Online Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved December 5, 2014.
Harvard, J. (n.d.). Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Education. Retrieved December 5, 2014.