Online education is a flexible instructional delivery system that encompasses any kind of learning that takes place via the Internet. Online learning gives educators an opportunity to reach students who may not be able to enroll in a traditional classroom course and supports students who need to work on their own schedule and at their own pace.
The quantity of distance learning and online degrees in most disciplines is large and increasing rapidly. Schools and institutions that offer online learning are also increasing in number. Students pursuing degrees via the online approach must be selective to ensure that their coursework is done through a respected and credentialed institution.
RATIONALE FOR CONSIDERING ONLINE EDUCATION
Online education has become a viable and exciting method for instructional delivery in the global business society that runs on a 24/7 schedule (24 hours a day/7 days a week) because it provides students with great flexibility.
With the increased availability of the Internet and computer technology, students are able to access information anytime and anyplace that would normally be available only through a traditional classroom. Studies have shown that students learn just as effectively in an online classroom as they do in the traditional classroom.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF LEARNING ONLINE
Online education offers many positive benefits since students:
have flexibility in taking classes and working at their own pace and time
face no commuting or parking hassles
learn to become responsible for their own education with information available at their fingertips
find the submission of assignments easy and convenient
are more apt to voice their own opinions and share and debate issues with other students, as well as learn from other students during the group discussions
Possible negative effects of learning online are that some students:
may miss the face-to-face interaction with the instructor and among students
may prefer to attend traditional classes with an instructor who teaches and guides them through the course
find access to the necessary technology challenging and the availability of technical support limited
In addition, some administrators and instructors who do not understand the workload may display a negative attitude toward online education.
FUTURE OF ONLINE EDUCATION
Online teaching is here to stay. Many students prefer the online classroom since it offers flexibility in their busy schedules. With the proliferation of information and knowledge, students must become lifelong learners in today’s world, and online education plays an important role in helping individuals access the learner-centered and self-directed instruction.
With enhanced software, hardware, and Internet access, more options for online education will become available. With student enrollments increasing faster than classrooms can be built, students becoming more proficient with technology, and students pursuing an education that meets their needs, the future of online education will continue to grow. Online degree programs will become more widely accepted as they become a more common practice.
see also Professional Education ; Training and Development
Center for Online Educators. http://educatoronline.org