Based on the research I have carried out, the main topic of this Backtalk will be online study. This topic shall be narrowed down to the challenges faced by the online students and how these challenges can be overcome. I want my audience to consider that online learning can be very tedious if the technology is not well furnished. We shall look in detail what online learning entails; its advantages and disadvantages. The tools of engagement shall pictures and animations. The audience shall then be given the opportunity to ask questions.
An online student can be defined as a student who does his academic learning through the internet. The said student does not follow the traditional sense of learning since he does not need to attend school in a physical building. Online learning has a number of perks:
Firstly, it allows the students to learn at any time or place. The fact that physical location does not limit the students access to education is a step forward in the education sector at ensuring it is accessible to all.
Another advantage of learning online is the fact that it allows the student to carry out his or her own research from the available information published on the internet (The University of Illinois, 2013). The student can take advantage of journals published and other resources such as online libraries to ensure he gets the required information.
Besides, the information found on the internet is always up to date with emerging trends and the current affairs of the world. The journals here, therefore, reflect the day to day life and the students can easily relate to them. However, this does not make the historical information obsolete in any way; a student can as well study the history from the websites. This clearly shows how the internet has in store much diversified information of all topics. Students studying different courses meet here and, they are all served. One also has the privilege of choosing a piece of information from a proffered author. This is because the internet provides a topic authored by different writers.
It is also an advantage to the learning institution since it can serve more students without investing more money in infrastructure. Hence, the learning institutions don’t have to worry about building more lecture halls or overcrowding of students like the physical schools do. It also lowers expenses in terms of human resources invested since online learning can be done with the help of a few lecturers.
The problem arises where the online portal or website being used by the students has problems. Such problems would include students not being able to access classes and lectures. This can be due to the internal technicalities with the site or the internet connectivity and network in some locations. This problem is very common in areas that are less developed and some remote areas upcountry. This may mean that students from underdeveloped locations with poor internet connectivity may not take the advantage of this modern technology. The problem would also arise from poor communication between the lecturers and the students. For example, if a lecturer uses one email address to relay information to the students, the information will be very vulnerable to distortion by one the student making the rest to get the wrong information. In this regard, it becomes very important for care to be taken to prevent breakdown of learning.
Another problem that is encountered by online students is the issue of getting feedback from the lecturers. In some institutions, getting feedback from the lecturers can be difficult. This is especially the case where the communication channels are not defined. Another reason to this could be the poor timing by the two parties. A lecturer may go online at the time when the student is offline. Poor timing may be as a result of different time zones of the world. A student in Africa, who is instructed by a European lecturer, has a difficult time waking up in the odd hours of the night to attend the classes. For this reason, sometimes a question posted a student might not an instant answer from the instructor. This has caused inconveniency and misunderstanding from the two as it makes it very difficult for the student and lecturers to convey information between them.
Another challenge involved in this is where the student does not understand how to use the school website. It becomes difficult to navigate to classes, discussion threads and other resources necessary for the student to carry on with his or her studies. Online learning, therefore, requires one to have high literacy in computer and its application; any mediocre knowledge may amount to missing out of many lessons.
The school administration can not easily monitor the teachers and the students in the method on online learning. Also, the teacher has a difficult time monitoring the students. This may lead to indiscipline both from the teachers and the students.
In the online learning, one can easily get distracted. For example, when a student visits the school site on the internet, he may be tempted to log on to other irrelevant social sites that might divert his attention from learning.
Conducting an online group discussion has always been quiet challenging. Summoning the students from the various locations in different time zones and getting their collective attention has not been an easy job for the instructors and the student leaders, as well. This has led to some students missing out of such important discussions and thus affecting their performance in the final results.
Solutions to Needs of online students
For online students to benefit from services that are afforded to other normal students and curb the challenges discussed above, a number of changes should be done.
Firstly, the online schools need to change their curriculum to include direct physical interaction of students and lecturers (Doug, 2013). This may be done through organizing educational trips and other activities such as debates. This will go a long way in ensuring that the students get to associate with their peers, discuss among themselves and exchange the ideas. These students will also get to meet the lecturer and feel the personal touch as they engage the teacher in a discussion. The students with problems can get assistance and guidance from such trips
Online learning has its many advantages and should be taken with all the seriousness it deserves. The world should embrace this new technology and government should invest on the technology development of the nation.
In summation, students who study online face many challenges and are usually forced to work harder than the others due to the problems they face. It is, therefore, important for school administrations to conduct a survey on these challenges and do their best at ensuring that all the students’ needs are met. The administration must work together with student representatives and the government of different nations in making this possible.
Asunka, S. (2008). Online learning in higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Ghanaian
Benson, A. (2002). Using online learning to meet workforce demand: A case study of stakeholder influence.Quarterly Review of Distance Education. Retrieved from https//scholar.vt.edu
Carliners, S. (2004) An overview of online learning. Resource Development Press. Retrieved from https//scholar.vt.edu
Creswell, J. (2007) Qualitative inquiry and Research Design. Sage Publication. Retrieved from https//scholar.vt.edu