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With the ever-increasing number of students that choose the online opportunities to complete their education, and to accomplish their personal and lifelong pursuits, e-learning seems to be the only chance to get the education that you want. Regardless of the geographical location, people were united not only through the means of technology, but through the digital citizenship that they all share. Male (2003) defines digital citizenship as the norm of behaviour in regards to the use of technological communication. The Internet literary gave us the unlimited possibility to be everywhere, to travel, watch films, keep in touch with friends and study. Thanks to e-learning students learn how to develop their positive attitude towards technology and to apply their skills in obtaining new. Information and system technology provide us with the freedom to use it in order to increase our education qualifications.
One of the reasons why digital technology contributed so much into the growing popularity of e-learning was its accessibility. There are dozens of features that e-learning can be described with. I will list here the ones that I believe have the greatest impact on students who engaged in similar courses.
E-learning is usually regarded as self-paced method, which gives students the chance to structure their progress in the most suitable and appropriate manner. Namely, this feature is designed to have a positive effect on people who know what higher education they would like to received, however, do not have the opportunity to regularly attend classes, travel back and forth to the institution and prefer the comfortable home setting to complete their assignments. The self-paced method would not be beneficial for young students who are not that motivated, since the rivalry and contest elements will be missing and they may drop out of the class and program due to the lack of strong, social and peer to peer communication. Male (2003) points out that technology should enable everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to study, since this is his human right.
We have mentioned the unlimited accessibility. Often online classes allow students to access them 24/7. This feature helps pupils to schedule their daily activities, to work or take care of their families, without the need to attend day to day classes and to lost track of the learned material if a class is missed. In the accessibility feature, we can also add the geographical barriers which are eliminated, thus permitting students from all over the world to have open opportunities to broaden their educational background.
Another important feature is the reduction of the costs frequently spent such as tuition, food, accommodation, transport.
I have listed whose features of the most important ones, since they directly reflect my current experiences with the e-learning and relate to my personal points of view. Ermann, Williams and Shauf (1997) notes that computers have increasingly become an everyday tool and enhance people's life quality by creating access to previously undreamed worlds. E-learning seems to be this world, which now has the potential to develop our knowledge and competence skills and to provide us with interdisciplinary set of social and technological implications. What Ermann, Williams and Shauf (1997) tries to argue, though is the suggestion that in the near future technology will undermine quality of life, due to the lack of real, face-to face interaction and the societal forces that construct society will be ultimately replaced by computers. Thirteen years later, we see that this might not be the issue with e-learning, and the problem seems to be in the inclusion of less developed countries into the global e-learning market.
McCain and Jukes (2001) acknowledge that "[t]he challenge is not to think about changes in the technology itselfâ€¦it is to think about the transformations of education that can be facilitated by the effective use of this technology (preface)." Our generation is a witness of the speeding development of the information technology and institutions have adopted it into their core structures. The needs of 21st century learners tremendously altered and the essential question to ask is "how the envisioned different kind of schooling can aid youth".
My personal stand is that I am successful in my e-learning. Nowadays, people combine studying with working and having a family. The situation with me is not that different. I am bound to working and performing my family tasks, which does not permit me to have much extra time. E-learning to me involved the chance to plan my time for studying, to attend the courses whenever I have the time, to learn at my own pace. E-learning has the flexibility that regular universities do not have. McCain and Jukes (2001) pose that learning is something more than mere training. And I agree with that. During my e-learning sessions I enjoyed studying, because I can choose from a variety of topics and subjects, I interact with people on a global scale and exchanged valuable information. In addition I learned in multicultural atmosphere and gained irreplaceable social skills in the community. The teacher was able to apply variety of methods and delivered remarkable lessons frequently making students as comfortable as if they are attending a traditional classroom. E-learning taught me to collaborate with my student peers much easier. The projects that we were assigned required consultation and debate, which facilitated the final results. The online environment seems to me more supportive than the one which I experienced at high school.
Surely, there are also few disadvantages which I have experienced. The greatest I believe is the isolation. Instructions were clear, though, in the cases when I needed additional details or decided to take the liberty in interpretations, I was afraid that they will not be accepted. Since I had a gap between my high school and my current degree program I have lost the discipline to work independently and I needed further assistance with some of the projects. Presumably, if I were in real class atmosphere I would have been able to address these issues and cope with ease with the above troubles. Sheypak et al.(2006) claim that one of the disadvantages of e-learning is that some of the software is not compatible with the student's computer, therefore hindering him from the chance to download the required files. Personally, I haven't experienced such problems, but I consider that they are highly possible in economically low developed regions where computers do not have the latest versions of the software utilized in the learning institutions.
Distance education progressively has become the preferred way to completing a graduate program. Allen and Seaman (2006) reported in a survey that 3.2 million pupils in the U.S. most of whom undergraduates have taken at least 1 online course in the fall semester. In comparison, the figures indicated an increase of 10% in the number of students taking e-learning courses the previous year. This fact makes both teachers and students aware that e-learning had to combine the use of technology with the purposes of education. People learn through interacting with the world and through their experiences, because they stimulate the perceptions and the senses (Massaro and Cowan, 1993). Therefore, while I was learning by myself, I was able not to compete with my peers, but rather to focus on my own learning abilities and to see how fact I am progressing, without the constant comparison with other students.
E-learning was valuable for me, because I was able to test my learning abilities such as fast reading, memorizing, interpreting, and consolidating the previously learned material, linking my knowledge with other spheres of education. I believe that when one has a positive attitude to the e-learning process, than his chances of taking most advantage gradually increase. I displayed genuinely affirmative attitude to my e-learning, and that is the ready why I was motivated to complete it successfully. Depending on the subject field, I prefer courses to be divided into two groups - virtual classrooms and then discussion section. In the virtual classroom students will be introduced with the main theories and concepts for the unit and in the next meeting after familiarizing with the downloaded materials, the students will interact in debates about arguable methods and approaches. I consider this to be the most effective technique for me in assimilating the knowledge.
E-learning was a fantastic way for me to obtain the knowledge and supplementary qualifications for the career that I pursue. Moreover, I gathered a very positive experience interacting virtually with my peers and receiving the necessary help and support from my tutors. I am elated from the way that my learning took place and I am considering my continuous education through the e-learning system. Besides the few negative issues, e-learning has greater value for me, than the usual real, in class structure. My overall impression is that I have a good e-learning and surely, this is due to an extent to the tutors. My evaluation could have been different, if I have attended different learning institution, and this point should be taken into consideration. The successful completion of the program would indicate the progress which I made throughout my e-learning and equally demonstrate the new skills and knowledge that I have gained.