What is the quality of distance learning?
Can it compete with the traditional methods of getting knowledge? These are questions, which gain the stacks of media attention, nowadays. Distance learning gains a great popularity in the modern society (Simonson 7). However, there are different opinions about the quality and appropriateness of the distance learning. Some consider it to be not enough for the achievement of the proper knowledge. Others suppose it to be an effective way for the self-improvement and development. Therefore, it is possible to say that the issue of the distance learning is quite controversial. In the paper, we will identify main principles of the distance education and answer the question of its quality.
Distance learning has many advantages, comparing with the traditional ones. It is important to dwell on the main benefits of the distance education in order to understand its nature and major achievements. Additionally, advantages of distance learning explain its possibilities and probable results. Therefore, the investigation of the benefits of distance learning is crucial for the comprehension of the topic.
Firstly, distance learning suggests a convenient schedule. In other words, learners can personally organize their studying time. It is very comfortable for those, who are working, at the same time. Moreover, it is an obvious fact that humans have some periods of cognitive activities throughout a day. Therefore, learners can adapt their studying time to their hours of mental activities. Without doubts, such a combination will result in deep knowledge and profound experience. In these terms, we can say that distance learning is quite effective and qualitative.
Secondly, distance learning does not demand plenty of costs and time
Learners can apply to their on-line courses, despite their locality. It means that they do not have to spend money and time on travelling to the university or other educational institutions. On the contrary, this money can be spent on textbooks or some additional academic materials, recommended for the course. Similarly, the saved time can be used in order to read some articles and books, relevant to the course topic. From this point of view, distance learning is not only less expensive, than universities and schools are. It also offers a great range of activities, which are free and useful. Therefore, distance learning can really provide proficient knowledge and high quality of studying.
Thirdly, distance learning allows the establishing of the personal pace of studying. It is obvious that different people perceive the new information variously. Some may remember new material in a quick period while others may need some time for understanding and memorizing. As a result, not every person can cope with the universities or schools tasks in a proper way. Distance learning gives a brilliant opportunity to set a personal rate of studying. It means that learners do not need to hurry up with their studying or extend them for a long period. Actually, the duration of course depends on the learners plans, possibilities and desires to study. Of course, many on-line courses are limited in time. Nevertheless, still they are more convenient, than the universities assignments. This advantage provides a profound approach of the problem of studying and its full comprehension. As a result, learners are able to achieve good knowledge without any bustles and hustles.
In addition, many agree that the distance learning is quite convenient not only in terms of time, but also comfort (Brown 56). It is quite easy to send a completed assignment or pass the on-line tests. It does not demand many efforts and time. Therefore, distance learning provides convenience and minimum of problems to the learners. Obviously, the question of convenience does not guarantee the quality. However, saving time on the formal procedures allows spending more hours working over the studying tasks.
Furthermore, distance learning provides a 24 hour access to the course materials
Moreover, it gives good opportunities for discussions and debates with the help of virtual forums. In fact, many suppose that distance learning is lacking the interactive element of studying. In other words, it does not provide sufficient communication and interaction between the participants and teachers. However, it is not always true. In many on-line courses, there are possibilities to share and exchange ideas via chats and forums. Moreover, it is always possible to consult the course coordinator and clarify different parts of the assignments. In addition, teachers usually have an ability to provide feedback with the learners in order to check their knowledge and control the educational process (Orellana, 230). In fact, distance learning provides two-way communication between the learners and instructors in order to make the studying more convenient and pleasant. Therefore, we can say that distance learning provides all opportunities for the achievement of the proper knowledge and experience.
Speaking about the distance learning technologies, there are many appropriate methods. Obviously, interactive possibilities of distance learning are a little bit limited. Nevertheless, it is possible to apply to other effective methods in order to establish the communicative aspect of any studying. Thus, for instance, course instructors can install centralized routing for the interaction between all participants of the distance learning. According to this technology, learners can send their tasks to one central computer, which spreads them to all other participants. In such a way, learners can compare their skills and knowledge with others, and get additional motivation for the improvement.
Indirect Peer-to-Peer Routing
One more method is called Indirect Peer-to-Peer Routing. According to this technology, there is a small amount of mobile storage devices, connected to the site with all the needed data. The task of this site is to spread the data among all the other connected devices. It may be transported with the help of the e-mail. It is a good way to share great amounts of information for a big number of participants in a quick time.
The other distance learning technology includes multiple distribution centers. Its principles are similar to the previous ones. It also aims at the spreading of information among the participants, using computer and mobile devices. The practice witnesses that such technologies are quite effective in case with the distance learning. They help to introduce the communicative aspect, which is a little bit lost in the process of distance education.
Generally, there are many technologies, created especially for the distance learning. All of them include work with the computer. Nevertheless, these technologies allow creating interesting and interactive courses, which provide good opportunities for its participants (Thach, and Murphy 18). What is more important, those technologies include the communication with the teachers, course coordinators and teaching assistants. Therefore, they give all the needed conditions for the successful and qualitative studying.
Furthermore, distance learning suggests a wide range of academic subjects and topics
Learners have great opportunities to choose different subjects, they are interested in as all textbooks are available on-line. Psychologists agree that interesting and emotive studying leads to successful results. People find it easier to remember information if it is connected with some emotional response. Therefore, distance learning includes not only academic, but also emotive aspect of studying. Obviously, such a tendency leads to positive consequences and results in qualitative knowledge.
Finally, distance learning gives all the needed knowledge for the further jobs. Many learners, who have applied to the distance education, find good jobs after its completing. It means that distance learning really gives relevant and useful knowledge, which is necessary for finding a good job. Thus, it is possible to say that such king of studying is not only convenient and interesting, but also extremely practical and helpful.
To a great extent, the quality of the studying depends on the learners motivation. In the case with universities and schools, participants have all possibilities to work in groups and observe the success and failures of the team mates. As a rule, the experience of the other learners provides a positive impact on the motivation. It makes other participants work harder in order to achieve a desirable result. What is about distance learning, it faces a significant lack of group working. Nevertheless, it tries to compensate this drawback with brilliant benefits, which positively influence the learners desire to study. In any case, the motivation to study is a personal characteristic, which depends on the attitude of the learner toward his or her education. From this point of view, distance learning has all possibilities to compete with the traditional ones (Anglin, and Morrison 189).
To sum up, distance learning provides all opportunities for the qualitative and profound studying. Obviously, it faces some difficulties with the representation of the communicative and interactive components of studying. Nevertheless, its advantages significantly overcome any drawbacks. Nowadays, there are plenty of different online courses, connected with various scientific fields. It means that everyone can apply to the distance education and achieve new knowledge and experience. Generally, we can say that distance learning is an effective tool of gaining knowledge in the modern world. Considering the hectic way of the modern society, distance learning remains one of the most suitable educational methods. Therefore, we have all reasons to say that distance learning is the education of the future, which guarantees good knowledge with the maximum advantages and convenience.
Anglin, Gary, J., and Gary Morrison. "An analysis of distance education research: Implications for the field". Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 3 Mar. 2000: 189-194.
Brown, Barbara, M. "Digital classrooms: Some myths about developing new educational programs using the Internet". Syllabus, 26 Apr. 1998: 56-59.
Orellana, Anymir. "Class size and interaction in online courses". Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 7 Apr. 2006: 229-248.
Simonson, Michael. "Growing by Degrees: Latest Report From the Sloan Consortium". The Quarterly Review of Distance Education 7 Feb. 2006: 7-8.
Thach, Liz, and Karen, L. Murphy. "Collaboration in Distance Education: From Local to International Perspectives". The American Journal of Distance Education, 8 Apr., 1994: 5-21.