Information technologies are observed more and more in the daily life of people around the world. This tendency definitely affects the learning processes. People start using internet and the modern available technologies to get maximum out of their education, master new skills and gain knowledge necessary for their future careers. Online classes can help in freeing up more space in traditional classes for other students that are not interested in taking online classes (El Mansour and Mupinga 248). Still, this topic is rather controversial, as many people see certain drawbacks in this type of education, as in it there is a lack of personal contact between the professor and student, there are less possibilities to control the education process of the students, etc. Still, this paper will show why all universities and higher education institutions should include fully integrated online courses, as they offer convenience, vast amounts of easily available resources and with the use of technology, it can be very affordable for students, eliminating many of the costs that traditional students can encounter.
Generally, the phrase distance learning can be considered in the following ways:
As the technology of distance learning, where teacher and students are physically located in different places. In the past, it was rather considered as correspondence course. Now it is a teaching tool that uses case-, TV- and network technology of education.
Training, which is based on the use of special computer technology and internet, providing optimal (in the sense of teaching efficacy) learning management.
As the organization of educational process based on learning methods in terms of mediated interaction of the student and teacher with a predominant use of means of information and telecommunications (distance learning technologies).
As a set of technologies, methods and tools providing an opportunity to study without having to visit the institution, but with regular consultations with the teachers of the institution or persons certified by this institution (tutors).
As a new form of education, that exists in the present, along with other forms of training - full-time, part-time, external to the system of continuous education.
First, lets us review the convenience that it offers. Schedule in this study is very flexible, which is why it is not necessary every day at a certain time to go online for communication with teachers and no one at the same time will hurry the student to start immediately, read and respond to some questions that allow the teacher to doubt that he learned the material. It can also make it possible for faculty to reach and teach students all around the country or even the world (El Mansour and Mupinga 243). This particular feature is very important for those people who live in the developing countries, not having access to some modern and popular courses. In this case, student receive a valuable opportunity of mastering some competitive profession and spread the knowledge in his/her community, or go to another country and get a great job. For thousands of people it is an opportunity of a lifetime if used in the right way and in the right time.
Asynchronous learning allows people to choose the time when to learn and how much time to give to it. Many youths are not able to attend a university because they could be working long hours for them to be able to support themselves (Espejo). It is a common reality today and online courses can considerably help in solving it, which will make professional education accessible to even more people. Therefore, if a person has little free time and never knows what to do in an hour, the asynchronous method of education is perfect.
In developing the training, it is important to understand what learners require in this terms and what functions the system should perform in this relation. The more tasks required of the system, the more features should be laid in its construction. In fact, development of new features can help overcome the problems and drawbacks online courses have today that are emphasized by some scientists. It is definitely convenient for student to make use of all the functions of the systems while sitting at home or in the office and receiving everything that is necessary to obtain high level of knowledge. It is interesting that not only students can make use of it, but also some companies offer education in them as their advantage. For instance, Starbucks Company offers online degrees to their low-income employee through online classes (Choi).
Distance learning suggests an outstanding educational approach, which has been deprived of the disadvantages of the electronic courses of the past (which were on CD-ROMS, could not be changed, were limited and very difficult to produce) and has a number of additional features. The basis of the educational process in distance learning is deliberate and controlled intensive independent work of the students, who could learn in a comfortable place, according to an individual schedule themselves with a special set of learning tools and the possibility of contact with the agreed teacher in the learning process. The progress that online courses are currently experiencing shows the rapid growth it has achieved in recent years (Stroulger).
The advantages of distance learning include for students:
1) flexibility of the training schedule;
2) the ability to learn by an individual plan according to one’s own needs and capabilities;
3) objective and independent from the teacher methodology of knowledge assessment;
4) the opportunity to consult with the instructor during the training;
5) relative cheapness.
For teachers this form of learning is primarily the emergence of additional possibilities of presenting material to students, i.e. actually, there is an opportunity at the same load to teach more students. Many students are choosing online classes because they feel more comfortable pursuing a degree online instead of attending a classroom (Espejo).
No wonder that, with all its obvious merits, distance learning has quickly gained enormous popularity in the educational world. Gradually, large corporations became also interested in it, fairly assuming that this form of training will allow them to quickly, relatively cheaply, efficiently and, most importantly, without distraction from the job, raise the level of their training. Students can cut back on fees when taking online classes (Gurung). It opens new and fascinating opportunities for students around the world of different backgrounds and capabilities. Recently, the degree of involvement of the internet in education, the number of online courses, their subjects, different ways of implementation and overall thrust of the whole led to the emergence of a more capacious term e-Learning. It is the use of new multimedia technologies and the Internet to improve the quality of education by improving access to resources and services as well as remote knowledge sharing and collaboration. Online classes require much less effort than traditional classes or lectures because of not having to attend a classroom (Jana).
E-learning today is a learning process, which uses interactive electronic information delivery media. In addition to addressing its primary task - distance learning via the Internet - e-Learning is also an excellent complement of full-time study and can serve as a good tool for improving the quality and effectiveness of traditional teaching.
In general, the main advantages of e-Learning are:
1) Greater freedom of access - the student has the opportunity to access the Internet for e-learning from any location where there is access to the global information network. The fast growth of online degrees seekers shows that the convenience of online programs is priceless (Haynie 21).
2) Competence, quality education - courses are created with the participation of the whole team of specialists, which makes e-Learning mature and quality education.
3) Lower prices for delivery of training - e-learning in the process of delivery of education includes only the exchange of information through the Internet without cost to the student for the purchase of educational materials.
4) The possibility of separating the content of e-learning modules - small pieces of information allow us to study the subject more flexibly and it is easier to find the right materials.
5) Flexibility of training - duration and sequence of study materials listener chooses, fully adapting the whole process of training under his/her abilities and needs.
6) Ability to workplace learning - students have the opportunity to be educated on the job (if any), as well as at home, on the road, using the mobile Internet.
7) The ability to evolve with the times - users of e-courses, teachers and students develop their skills and knowledge in accordance with the latest modern technology and standards. Electronic courses also allow timely and promptly update of the study materials.
8) The ability to define criteria for assessing knowledge - e-learning has the opportunity to exhibit clear criteria by which to assess the knowledge gained in the process of student learning.
However, it should be noted that in all of the advantages of e-learning for everyone, there are a number of problems. These include the following: the problem of quality of e-learning courses (who and how can evaluate them), legal issues related to the protection of intellectual property, financial and related costs for the preparation of electronic courses updating, personnel problems related to the preparation of teachers who are able and willing to develop and constantly update these courses. There can be in fact many potential hazards by taking away the aspect of having an in-class student-teacher relationship, and also eliminating a setting that promotes a personal environment (Kelly).
Certainly, the teacher, using the technology of e-learning can teach more students, geographically separated, but will it bring the desired educational and economic benefits? In the traditional process of learning face-to-face, the teacher has feedback required to teaching properly and immediately reacts to it, on the go rearranging the training material. He/she has the ability to make the material more accessible. Of course, for the preparation of e-learning, there should be used the experience of teachers, experts, professionals in the business, but teacher not always has the time needed for it, the ability to work with a computer.
Today it is clear that e-learning - it is not a temporary fad, so it is necessary to take care of the complex decision of these problems, create Interuniversity Center for quality assessment of e-learning courses, training of trainers, pay attention to the companies working in the market of information technologies, the problems of complex information universities.
Top universities in the world create their own free online-courses so that everyone could get a chance to explore what he/she dreams about, as not everyone has the opportunity to study in such institution, but with today's Internet technology, higher education is available to all comers. However, it is necessary to take into account that higher educational institutions and colleges are simply using online courses as a source of new revenue (Arenson). Thus, it is clear that the subject of distance education is very relevant today. There are many affordable developments in this field of study. Below there will be considered the most high-profile projects. The fast growth of online degrees seekers shows that the convenience of online programs is priceless (Haynie 21).
Thus, it is possible to define the list of requirements for learning systems:
Simple, flexible, intuitive interface.
The availability of useful information for the student (text files, video tutorials ).
Adaptability - permits systems include developing new information technology without redesigning systems, as well as have built-in methods for individualized learning.
Durability - meeting the developed standards and providing the opportunity to make changes without reprogramming total and at the same time, in compliance with all the current standards in the field of web-based technologies.
Accessibility - making it possible to operate the system from different locations (locally and remotely, from an educational class or from home).
Unobtrusive - training must occur in an entertaining way and provide an opportunity for students to structure their learning based on the requirements of the teacher.
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