2012 Indy Info
As Internet and computer access become more and more of a normal thing for virtually everyone in the United States, the availability of online education courses continues to grow. While higher education first got into the game by simply offering online components to their classroom-taught courses, academic institutions soon expanded their offerings to have not only stand-alone bachelor’s degrees, but also online graduate degrees (Master’s and Phd’s) as well. In light of this fact, many people wonder whether or not such educational methods will ever become the norm. A number of individuals seem to suggest that its quality and robustness could one day be on par with the conventional classroom-taught paradigm of instruction
Studies show that online education has two main benefits over traditional classroom methods. First, it is simply cheaper. No class may ever need to take place: students often just view videos and read textbooks on their own, submitting assignments via the Internet as they become due. Some online courses are taught without even requiring the direct supervision of a professor. Even when courses do hold live online classroom sessions, these sessions can include a large number of students without requiring the use of an assembly hall. The second main advantage that online education has over traditional education is the matter of scheduling. Due to the intrinsically independent nature of online education, it is easier for students to fit coursework for online degrees into their personal schedules. Instead of moving to another city and attending classes that could conflict with work, they can take their courses from home at whatever time is best for them. Together, these two benefits are causing online education to continue its booming growth.
Despite the advantages, however, online education does have some drawbacks and barriers. For instance, some students feel that they need a high level of human interaction in order to learn, which online education often cannot provide. Another problem is the fact that online degrees are generally seen as being less respected than degrees resulting from traditional campus-based programs. This is partially because of the pedagogical methods often involved, but the main reason is the fact that it is generally easier for online students to cheat on tests and assignments. For instance, when a student takes a test online, there is no guarantee that the student receiving the grade is the one who actually took the test.
Some of the problems associated with online education do have viable solutions. The matter of human interaction is being solved with advances in video conferencing technologies. Such technologies can actually lead to higher levels of human interaction because they make it simpler for one-on-one tutors to engage with students in a time-effective manner. As for the problem of proving that work is done by the student, some programs solve this by requiring end-of-course exams to be taken in a testing center where the student must prove his or her identity.
While online education has its drawbacks, its advantages cause it to continually grow. As technologies develop and as educational institutions scramble to find more cost-effective ways of meeting students’ needs, it may very well become the norm for university education in the future.
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