As online education becomes an increasingly viable option for many students – it's cheaper, very accessible and flexible to working lives — some are wondering whether it's a good fit for most students.
Whether a student has work commitments, family responsibilities, or disabilities, they're able to complete their work without ever leaving home.
And more universities are embracing the idea of online learning. The amount of courses that are available online is increasing tenfold and even some high schools are jumping on the bandwagon by offering online classes.
But is online education better than face-to-face âtraditional' learning? The Ecology of Education discusses the limitations of the online format and poses four points to consider before pursuing an online degree.
1. Major Self-Discipline Required
The Ecology of Education emphasize that while one of the biggest appeals of online education is time flexibility, it requires a great dedication and strong self-discipline to make themselves sit down each day to do classwork.
As Marissa Poulson points out at Anthem College Online, there are many interruptions and distractions to overcome in a home environment and it may require a change in lifestyle to overcome them.
2. Hidden Costs
While on the face of it online education is a seemingly far cheaper option than face-to-face conventional education, many costs are hidden. Although students do not have to live on campus or find themselves having to schlep to class every day, other costs are more prescient – such as high-speed internet connection and a competent home computer.
3. Not a Fit for Every Style and Kind of Learning
As MyNextCollege.com points out, online education can appeal to some very unique styles of learning. It forgives the slower student, it allows time for longer consideration and is great for those unable (or unwilling) to learn at paces set by others (whether the pace set is too fast or, of course, too slow).
However, some students require a tutor, a face, to interact with every day and needs either a sounding board or even just someone to ask questions to. This is not so easy with online learning.
4. Minimal Social Interaction
Many web-based learning programs feature face-to-face interaction. Whether through video conferencing or sporadic and occasional evening tutorials. However, as useful as they may be, they do not substitute the regular interaction a student will find in traditional colleges.
The student must ask itself whether it can adapt and flourish in the isolated social environment of the online education system.
The four points the Ecology of Education make indicates that the quality and effectiveness of online learning depends heavily on the commitment and dedication of the student. However, it also depends on the learning discipline of the student. Some people are not able to learn on their own, some people just don't like it.
Types of subjects must also be taken in consideration. Not all classes are suited to isolated, online learning. Those that require detailed and elaborate experiments and case studies aren't necessarily compatible with the online format.
The points, rather than dissuade, should invite discussion between the individual student and their family with regards to the viability of online learning. They must judge whether their learning style can adapt to the discipline and whether their needs are compatible with an online format.