Education Essays - Distance Learning Classroom

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Distance Learning Classroom

Distance Learning VS. Classroom

Education is a lifetime investment. Education is a key to success and for having a better future and a very promising career. With the latest technological advancements present in our society, there are many choices to be educated and earn a degree. The traditional system of classroom education is here to stay but technological breakthroughs introduced a new way of learning which is known as distance learning. Distance learning is the most convenient and effective way of earning a degree in today’s society.

Distance learning is designed to meet the needs of people aspiring to earn a degree through classes conducted online via the internet without the hassles of attending classes inside the classroom. Distance learning is an excellent alternative especially for adults to earn a degree without leaving their jobs.

In addition, out of school youths who are forced to take a job due to economic and financial constraints can also continue their education through distance learning. Moreover, it is also an effective way for full-time moms to earn their degree or finish school without sacrificing their responsibilities to their family.

Furthermore, professionals are also provided with means to enhance what they have already learned and become even more knowledgeable through distance learning. This way they have greater chances for career development and a higher chance for a promotion.

According to Spodick (1995), distance education or distance learning, has been around for a long time and involves gaining knowledge outside of the traditional means of attending classes at schools. Today, the popularity of online learning is growing rapidly. As a matter of fact, there are millions of students in the United States that are presently studying online. In addition, there are also overseas students who are also taking up their degree online. Other countries also came up with their own distance education programs.

Willis (n.d.) noted that in order to address the challenge of providing more educational opportunities without the financial burden, institutions should develop distance education programs. Furthermore, these types of programs can provide adults with another opportunity to earn a college education or those who failed to finish school due to time constraints and disabilities, and provide means for employees to refresh their knowledge.

Distance learning may have created doubts to those who believe that it is only through attending regular classes in school and with face-to-face sessions with teachers that students can learn. However, through the years, studies proved that distance education can provide quality education the same as or even more than with a classroom setting.

Since distance learning is often compared with classroom learning, it is important to note the similarities and differences of these two. Prof. James Drogan (n.d.) pointed out that distance learning and classroom learning has the same teaching objectives and subject matter. Usually the courses offered by an educational institution in the formal classroom setting are also being offered in its distance education program.

In addition, the classroom professors are also those conducting classes in distance learning. Another similarity is that online and classroom courses have similar standards of excellence in course works. Both distance and classroom learning expect only the best from students especially with regard to their submitted outputs, assignments and participation in class discussions.

Distance learning and classroom learning are also marked by their differences. One big difference is the venue of the teaching-learning process. Distance learning is done online and practically any where at all as long as one has a computer with an internet access while classroom learning requires students to go to school and attend regular classes in face-to-face instruction.

Another difference lies in the kinds of students attending the courses. In distance learning, the professor has a bigger possibility of teaching students of different nationalities around the globe because students have greater access to it. According to Abuso, Garcia, Labayan, and Baretto (1997), teachers are cultural workers who reproduce culture in the form of images, information, rules, language, attitudes and values.

Distance learning provides the best means for teachers to do their responsibilities as cultural workers because of the wide range of students attending distance education. Students come from different nationalities and have different cultural backgrounds which they can share with their teacher and their fellow classmates online.

The exposure to varying cultures can enrich the knowledge of students and make them more socially and culturally aware. Meanwhile classroom learning usually have very few foreign students, some of which are only luck enough to be part of an exchange program while some are those who can only afford to attend schools in the United States.

Class schedules also differ between distance and classroom learning. When it comes to distance learning, there is no fixed class schedule unless the professor in charge requires students to go online at a particular time and day. Most of the time, students can access their virtual classroom and contribute in the discussion boards on other activities on line at their own convenience. Unlike with distance learning, classroom learning strictly fellows a fixed schedule. Students cannot just come and go as they pleased otherwise they will be marked late or even absent.

Moreover, Sherry (1996) noted that the aims and goals of distance learners also vary from those of classroom learners. For instance, adult learners under distance education programs aim not only to gain new knowledge but also acquire social skills like collaborating and communicating with others from different parts of the world.

People used to think of distance or online learning as the kind of education usually taken for granted. However, this changed after so many tests and thorough studies were conducted and finally this high-tech way of learning gained acceptance and respect from educators and students alike.

So, what are the pros of distance learning compared with classroom learning? Distance learning allows learning in distant or remote locations to become possible since it is very accessible since all class or course requirements will be complied online. In addition, a virtual classroom is accessible even in internet cafes and requires and needs only a standard computer. On the other hand classroom education provides an interactive means of learning since there are many students sharing each other's ideas and asking questions with the actual supervision of their professor.

Distance and classroom learning also have varying consequences. One of the major problems encountered in distance learning is the rapid changes in technology that create obstacles to accessing learning environments. Another big consequence is the limited understanding of effective teaching methods which is brought about by the youthfulness of online learning.

Since it is almost new to everybody, very few research were made to evaluate distance learning and assess the methods and strategies employed by distance learning professors. Moreover, it results to doubt and skepticism of the effectiveness of student comprehension and in learning highly complex subjects.

On the other hand classroom learning also has its own consequences which includes encouraging passive learning especially to the case of students whop are too shy to communicate their ideas or to ask questions for clarifications. Moreover, most classroom professors also ignore individual learning differences between students.

Thus, the classroom setting hinders the students' chance to participate in class discussions since others usually dominate in class. Furthermore, classroom learning often neglects developing the higher thinking skills of students since professors do all the talking most of the time and spoon-feed students with information.

Indeed, distance learning open new opportunities for students and teachers. With the Internet, online degrees have become a perfect option for individuals who may find difficulty enrolling in a traditional classroom institution. Online or distance education teaches individuals to multitask unlike in regular classroom environment. Distance learning provides challenging activities wherein students have to use to several programs, maintain files, and email in order to get good grades and to succeed.

The world is constantly changing and as competition goes stiffer and stiffer in the job market, more people are in favor of distance learning. Adult students have greater chances to succeed in this kind of learning institution since they are more matured and responsible. Most of these students have full-time jobs on families to look after, too.

On the other hand traditional college students ranging from 18-21 years can truly benefit from the social atmosphere of a college campus. A college campus has many activities that, guarantee exciting experience for them. However, those who are seeking degree for promotion purposes or for career advancements and personal growth and development, distance learning is the best choice.

Regardless of one’ reasons for taking distance learning, it requires focus, dedication, and motivation. Distance learning is definitely harder to focus in a virtual classroom that in a traditional classrooms because there are usually many distractions. For example, if one logs on to one’s virtual class at the comfort of one’s home at one’s workplace, there are many noise that can destroy that person’s concentration like people talking, music blasting from TV or radio, and even children playing. Another reason distance learning requires discipline and maturity is because of the fact that there are no professors directly in front of students to supervise and monitor every task..

Latest technological advancements help make distance learning more accessible to students around the world. However, institutions offering this kind of education need to evaluate constantly the impact of distance learning organizations and separate departments also need to create processes for communication and sharing knowledge. Furthermore, quality control processes also need to be developed and improved.

Distance learning requires systematic revisions, financial support, and transformation for educational materials to make them accessible online. Distance learning answers the call for a new learning environment that provides efficient and effective instruction in a convenient and more accessible manner. Distance learning serves as another means for people from different ages to earn degree at their own pace with less pressure yet with the same quality instruction as classroom learning.

References

Abuso, J., Garcia, F., Labayan, F.C., & Baretto, R. (1997). Socio- cultural foundations of

education. Philippines: UP Open University Press

Drogan, J.(n.d.). Online or distance learning versus classroom learning. (http:www.sunymaritime.edu/Academics/Graduate%20Program/distancevsclassroom.asp

x).

Howell, S., Williams, P., and Lindsay, N. (n.d.). Thirty-two trends affecting distance education: an informed foundation for strategic planning http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall63/howell63.html

Sherry, L. (1996). Issues in distance learning. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 1 (4), 337-365.

Spodick, E. (1995). The evolution of distance learning. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.

Willis, B (n.d.). Distance education- a practical guide. USA: University of Idaho Engineering Outreach Staff.

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