Distance education offers so much flexibility in education. Flexibility in learning is one of the major advantages of distance learning. Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels
Advantages and disadvantages of Distance Learning: Why and why not distance learning?
Why should distance education importance be considered?
Technology as applied to distance learning can be distracting and dissatisfying, and its social aspects can unreal and dulling. Why would a student prefer virtual-classroom distance learning to the real face-to-face social interaction in a traditional in-person classroom knowing these disadvantages abound?
Why would over 7 million US students invest their resources in a remote education? What are they bound to benefit from the program if it is not of great importance?
Should I do online education or not? This is a big question many students and learners, who are weighing the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning program to know if it is the right choice for them or not, ask.
Distance learning is gaining popularity among students like never before, with many students satisfied with their learning experience.
The importance of remote education to a student is well-considered when he cannot realize his educational aspirations by attending full-time or part-time in-person on-campus classes. Distance education might not be the best choice for every student, but understanding its advantages and disadvantages will help a student make the right choice.
Advantages of Distance Learning: What benefits are derivable from remote education?
Given a real-life in-person instruction where students-teacher interaction in a traditional learning environment has offered many advantages in the past decades, successfully achieving the expected learning objectives.
There are a handful of advantages when learning remotely. Can we discuss just a few of them?
Distance learning offers flexibility in education
The top importance of distance education is its flexibility. Online education allows students who wish to have greater comfort and versatility in pursuing their courses many more learning choices.
Students and learners can choose how, when, and where they learn by deciding the mode, time, and place for their learning rather than get stuck in a particular classroom or restricted by the four walls of a room except in scenarios where they have to attend an online tutorial at a given time or a lecture through videoconferencing – that is when there are set times for classes, meetings, or lectures in which they must attend. There is also flexibility in the way teachers and course instructors structure their classes as well as the manner in which develop and evaluate assignments.
While the option matches virtually all categories of students, there is a serious doubt over its suitability for pre-schoolers and kindergarten children, the advantage is that the distance learning students can take a job or venture into a business along with their college or higher education studies – flexible enough for a learner to attend classroom lessons without coming from his workplace or travel expenses.
Again online distance learning offers the benefit of practical course structure options for the choice of any program of study.
Distance education offers easy access to learning resources
Whether due to being in a remote location or differently unable, some students lack basic access to educational facilities. Remote learning programs offer every student the opportunity to learn and improve themself in the environment he finds the most effective to achieve such feat.
Distance learning is becoming more recognized just as a regular on-campus degree program
Encouragingly and more recently, distance education is gaining acceptance and recognition among employers including private sector employers. Employees are beginning to pursue higher education while still keeping their job so that they can develop skills and expertise in their field of work and grow in their workplace.
Distance learning saves resources– valuable time, money, consumables, fuels and facilities, and energy
One of the benefits of distance learning is that it saves resources (valuable time, money, fuel, and facilities). This economic viability of the distance learning program makes the online learning course or program affordable since the fees are comparatively lower than a regular traditional on-campus degree program.
Another advantage of distance education is that it saves time. There is no time is spent taking a bus or taxi or any other means going to and from college, including waiting time as a student is always in his classroom and learning resources anywhere any time virtually and apparently.
The importance is also experienced in teachers being able to harness and channel more wasted energy into developing strong lesson plans and assignments and improving their teaching skills.
Distance learning broadens learners’ perspective
Since many students come from different backgrounds and places, learners often find and interact with a more diverse group of people than you would normally find on most traditional campuses. Learners could end up linking up with a program-time study partner and student positive influencer.
Distance education facilitates self-paced learning
A self-disciplined and self-motivated student can advantageously benefit from distance learning at his own pace that suits his schedule in a convenient location, taking his time to assimilate lesson contents for better learning.
The student has ample time to organize himself, commit the sufficient amount of time to study materials required of him to have an understanding of the concept provided that he achieves the objective within the stipulated time. Such students benefit from using chat facilities (texts, images, and videos) in online discussion fora and the distance education provider support platform to sort themselves out and resolve clear their confusion and doubts satisfactorily.
Many students with low acumen, mental ability, or who have public shyness or have certain kinds of temperament like the reserved introverts may find it difficult to converse or relate socially in a traditional classroom even in asking questions on vague concepts verbally. Such students may fail to bring in or return the expected knowledge value for resources committed to acquire education duly since different individuals learn in different ways and at different paces.
Visual learners enjoy the benefits of distance learning more
Visual learners tend to enjoy the benefits of distance learning more given the nature of the mode of remote education. Visually-enhanced instructional modes like online lessons, assessment, and evaluation in virtual classroom learning, discussion forum, podcasts, and webinars involve computer-based videos that facilitate easy-learning by visual learners.
Distance education provides freedom of choice of school, college, or higher education institution
One of the flexible advantages of distance learning is that the student can consider distance learning programs at reputable colleges and universities around his country of resident and the world because he is not restricted to schools, colleges or higher education institutions within his traveling distance.
Distance learning helps a student to learn many skills outside the program knowledge
Depending on the type of online program you take, distance learning can improve your, reading, writing, and oral communication skills, technical skills, computer, Internet – an added advantage to self-development which benefits you no matter what kind of career you pursue.
In our other Distance & Information Education posts:
Disadvantages of Distance Education: What are the challenges of online learning?
Having discussed the importance of distance education, some challenges with associated problems and disadvantages still abound. A student must consider whether or not any of the following general disadvantages would cause him to eliminate distance learning from his or her educational plans and aspirations:
There are issues with distraction in online education.
Continuous distraction is surely one of the disadvantages and challenges of remote learning. There is a high chance of distraction and losing track of learning in online learning with the unavailability of resource capacity around for face-to-face interaction and no course mates to discuss matters relating to the program study.
Such distractions can come from attraction to accessing favourite websites, shopping for goods and services online, news, chat message, or email notifications.
For a student to have a successful online study devoid of distraction, he must be self-disciplined, self-motivated, and focused. A learner who procrastinates and doesn’t stick to the deadline will be distracted if he engages in online education.
Problems associated with cultural and language differences
There are some related challenges with distance education majorly the problem of cultural and language differences emanating from the learners being brought together from various backgrounds with diverse cultural and language differences as well as in academic standards. This results in the diversification of learning styles. For example, students may less active learners in their country only to experience a more robust online educational commitment. Again, using another’s online work may be plagiarism in one culture but accepted practice in another.
Faculty need to be sensitized and have some degree of acculturation regarding context as hierarchies play out differently in developing versus developed countries.
Lack of basic computer and technical skills
Certain basic computer and technical skills are necessary for the effective use of distance learning systems. If a student is not a computer and tech-savvy, or lacks prerequisite computer and technical knowledge, his online learning experience may be dissatisfactory.
Problems with the use of computer technology
Computer technology devices and tools may have software or hardware malfunction – computer not responsive, disconnected Wi-Fi service, and others, even at a time when online virtual classroom learning is taking place. This is a problem because an ongoing classroom learning session might get disrupted and come to a standstill when such takes place.
Some distance management learning system courses or programs may be poorly designed or delivered, like poorly designed students’ networking or discussion forum, which compromises with delivering quality education for the students. The advantages of pursuing a distance learning program go beyond just beyond teacher-student interaction and good course content. The DLMS must be attractive in all aspects of learning.
Despite the cost benefits students enjoy in remote education that makes it relatively cheaper than traditional or regular classroom learning, there are hidden costs of computer technology. Some of the incurred costs of technology include procuring a suitable personal computer (PC), tablet, or a mobile phone; installing the needed computer application software, and getting a reliable Internet connection for computer networking.
The students might provide additional resources such as a printer, a web camera, TV, and others. Some recurring expenses might be incurred through the maintenance of the computer and its accessories and electricity costs.
Extra unbudgeted costs of procuring computer technology devices for the program can be a challenge or problem to the learner if the resources to meet the needs are limited.
Lack of credibility of online degree-awarding providers – schools, colleges, and higher education institutions
Having a good number of unreliable and non-accredited distance learning degrees or certificates-awarding providers – schools, colleges, and higher education institutions despite that distance education programs are getting recognized is still a challenge. There is primarily a worrying concern that online distance education offered, outside offered by a reputable institution, is of poor quality. Students need to ascertain the credibility of an online college or higher education before enrolment for a program in it.
With the number of remote education providers increasing, the numbers of scam operators are also increasing. This affects the credibility of recognized distance learning degrees among other certificate-awarding institutions or prospective employers.
The use of video conferencing tools makes online learning immersive, notwithstanding, it limits social interaction that really characterizes traditional in-person classroom learning.
It’s a big challenge and disadvantageous that opportunities for teacher-students or student-student personalized and group face-to-face social interaction in remote learning are lacking. For some students, there is merely inadequate social contact and interaction to keep them enthusiastic and motivated. Social skills is considered a vital ingredient in meeting an individual’s educational needs.
This lack of social interaction can be a discouragement for both students and teachers and can hamper a student’s growth in areas of emotional learning, social interaction, public speaking, presentation, leadership skills, and more.
Even though remote education can be delivered to a large number of recipients at the same or different times but this system lacked the human element required in learning.
Advantages of Distance Education Technology (DET)
Distance Education Technology provides online education
Online distance education technology enhances flexibility in learning. Courses can be taken at any time and in any place in distant locations with the use of internet-accessible computers.
Distance Learning Technology offers two-way interactive videoconferencing
One importance of Distance Learning Technology is that offers two-way interactive videoconferencing since social interaction is most similar to that of a traditional classroom though takes place in a virtual learning environment. Outside the computer internet connection costs, technology costs are part of the cost of access to the school’s Distance Learning Management System.
Distance Learning Technology provides recorded video clip of class sessions
One of the advantages of distance learning technology is that it provides recorded video clips of class sessions which can be accessed using any videocassette recorder (VCR) or TV or even a mobile phone or tablet.
Distance Education Technology eliminates transportation costs
One of the benefits of Distance Learning Technology is that there are no transportation costs incurred in running the program as the students’ classroom can be anywhere convenient.
Disadvantages of Distance Learning Technology
Social interaction in distance education technology is minimal
One of the disadvantages of Distance Learning Technology is that social interaction is minimal, taking place in an online virtual classroom and not face-to-face interaction in a traditional classroom. Face-to-face social interaction is one of the reasons why a traditional classroom is preferred to distance education.
Distance Learning Technology highly demands self-discipline and self-motivation
Fitting to the Distance Learning Technology highly requires self-discipline and self-motivation from the learners as distractions can lead to failure to succeed in the program. It takes one a considerable amount of time and commitment to be trained in self-discipline and self-motivation which is a challenge to many students.
Significant cost of internet-accessible computer technology set-up
Internet-enhanced computer technology set-up is needed to have a successful distance learning program and that costs at a significant cost. Many students see extra academic costs as a challenge and hindrance to achieving educational goals.
Prospects/Future of Distance Learning
In our 21st-century marred by economic and social instability amidst the information technology growth on the reverse, schools, colleges, and higher education institutions will be challenged to integrate the needful distance learning into the mainstream of educational programs as the society will sooner or later expect technology to be intertwined into what students are experiencing in schools resulting in great prospect to educate millions of people, improve their lives and strengthen the global economy.
With auxiliary advances in technology, enhancement of other resources and more training to adapt teachers to this new mode of learning, the disadvantages in distance learning can soon be sorted out in the near future.
Imbibing faculty orientation and training as standard practices should also be at the forefront of future online education reformation strategy. Manpower training should facilitate effective support, collaboration, and communication skills.
There is also a need to have a standardized curriculum and program based on learning outcomes.
Providing more online college and higher education opportunities and access to unmet and underserved populations like the labour force, rural or marginal individuals, among others, should impact positively on the future of distance learning
A strong academic and student support system whereby students receive active attention and support as they progress through their study programs is also worth considering prospectively.
Distance education providers need to be sensitized on the importance of having some degree of background acculturation or Acculturation be made a compulsory program on the international front to reduce hierarchies playing out differently in a developing versus developed countries fashion.
This blog post on ‘Advantages and disadvantages of Distance Learning: Why and why not distance learning? ’is categorized under Distance & Information Education
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