The Future Of Education: Web Based Education

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Technology is the future. Students in today's classrooms are also the future. So why not combine the two? R.W. Taylor says this about online learning: “Learning is a lifelong process, especially for instructors. It can be compared to a ‘virtual' treadmill-either keep moving or fall off the end. Technology is changing the face of education; online learning offers much to learn about and many interesting opportunities” (pg. 26). Just some food for thought as begin to read this. Before I get started let me catch you up with some terms associated with online learning. Distance Learning, Distance Education, Online Learning, Online Education, Web Based Learning, and E-Learning are all terms used to name learning via the internet; some people/places just prefer one over the other. Web Based Education has been purposed here at Maryville College. I do not think that online courses should be required and should be solely optional but I do believe that Maryville College should integrate web based education because of the following advantages; accessibility, students can learn in an environment comfortable to them, and makes instructors more easy to communicate with.

Web based education has grown exponentially around the world in the past few years; there are even some complete online universities in the United States. Online enrollments in have been increasing considerably quicker than overall higher education enrollments. Janet Truluck says Distance education is fast becoming the most effective form of instructional delivery for adults as the demand for programs and courses is growing at an enormous rate. The National Center for Education Statistics states: There were a total of an estimated 12.2 million enrollments (or registrations) in college-level credit-granting distance education courses in 2006-07. Of these enrollments, 77 percent were reported in online courses, 12 percent were reported in hybrid/blended online courses. Almost 3.5 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2006 term; a nearly 10 percent increase over the number reported the previous year and nearly twenty percent of all U.S. higher education students were taking at least one online course in the fall of 2006 (Allen & Seaman, pg. 1). The National Center for Education Statistics also reports The most common factors cited as affecting distance education decisions to a major extent were meeting student demand for flexible schedules (68 percent), providing access to college for students who would otherwise not have access (67 percent), making more courses available (46 percent), and seeking to increase student enrollment (45 percent) These same factors were rated as affecting distance education decisions to a moderate or major extent in 82 percent to 92 percent of the 2-year and 4-year institutions that offered college-level credit-granting distance education courses. The proportion of institutions that rated various other factors as affecting distance education to a moderate or major extent ranged from 6 percent for “other factors” to 63 percent for maximizing the use of existing college facilities.

Despite the rewards of web based education, there are many issues that need to be addressed. Issue One: One of the biggest and most talked about issues with online education is cost, and the availability of a computer with internet access. Many argue that students will not be able to have the funds to purchase or even have access to capable computers with access to the internet. Issue Two: Technical Problems. An assignment could be due the next day, or an important message or assignment was posted but the internet is down or the program it's self is having issues. Students could possibly used these as excuses as to not completing an assignment on time. Issue Three: Cheating. Students could easily take tests and/or coursework simultaneously, work together on them when not supposed too. Issue Three: I have heard this from many of the students on campus. You lose out on the “college” experience. The traditional classroom setting is taken away. Issue Four: Social Isolation. With the flexibility of online education, the majority of students will be taking the course alone with little interaction with others participating in class. Students miss out on group interaction, like classroom discussion, and group projects. These are not all of the problems associated with web based education, but the ones that I feel are the most important.

Issue One: The Cost of and Accessibility to the Required Technology

Many students argue that they cannot afford a computer and/or access to the internet. On some campus's this may be a problem, but at Maryville College if you are a student, than you have computer and internet access. There are computers in the library, along with laptops available to rent free of charge all capable of accessing the internet. There is also wireless internet available on campus to all enrolled students, so students who own their own personal computer will have internet access at all times while on campus. I have not seen the exact details on Maryville Colleges plan on web based education but if it is anything like other post-secondary schools, online classes are for the most part optional not required. A student who signs up for an online class knowing he/she will not have the money or access to these things are putting themselves in a bad position. The college could even make it a requirement to prove you have the material objects needed before approving your enrollment into an online course.

Issue Two: Technical Problems

This is a difficulty that cannot be predicted nor avoided. At some point throughout the course chances are something will fail, whether it is your computer, your access to the internet, or the online course itself. This is just a responsibility that a student will have to accept when enrolling in an online course. This means they cannot wait until the last minute all the time to turn in or complete assignments. The instructor for the online course would need to lie out guidelines for the course when a failure like this happens, it cannot be used as an excuse to not complete the assignment at hand. This would be a problem the instructor would have to address themselves at the beginning of the course because each instructor will more than likely have different guidelines for different situations in the event of a Technological failure or problem. Another solution would be if the instructor of the online class or the IT department confirms there was a problem with the online program, or a campus-wide internet outage the missed material could be excused, but only under those circumstances.

Issue Three: Cheating

This is a problem that can be sometimes be detected and sometimes not. First of all, if a student is going to cheat, their going to cheat whether it is in a classroom setting, or in an online course. It just means that the student doesn't have to be as creative in their ways of cheating when not in a traditional classroom setting, which could possibly make the cheating easier to detect. Say two students take a test at the same time and cheat off one another. The instructor will be able to see that they took the quiz at the same time, had very similar answers and similar results. Another situation would be a student turning in a paper that is possibly plagiarized, there are countless programs and websites available to college level professors and instructors to detect such an occurrence. If a student wants to cheat they are just hurting themselves, and in the long run they will need the information that they cheated themselves out of.

Issue Four: Social Isolation

Students enrolled in web based education courses could become unmotivated and lose focus on the class because no one physically present is pushing them to complete the requirements for the class. Students could also simply become bored with it. Students could also feel that they are not getting the attention or help that they need on coursework. To prevent these things from happening specifically at Maryville College the school could require the student to pass a test indicating that they will be able to successfully take on an online course not only academically but mentally as well. Slagter van Tryon & Bishop says in the computer mediated learning environment, therefore, participants will analyze and negotiate the social environment toward creating a baseline social context in which to comfortably interact. According to Kreijns et al. (2004), this stable state of communication patterns in an online learning environment might also be referred to as the sound social space achieved in the perception of others engaged in the learning environment.

Web based education would give several different advantages to students at Maryville College.

Advantage One:

Athletes whose sports can consume up to 30 hours a week with unpredictable schedules would benefit from online learning because they could take the class on their own time. This could also allow athletes to possibly take more hours due to being able to complete the class on there own time. Web Based Education would benefit commuters as well. Say they have classes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday but would like to take more classes and they are only available Tuesday's and Thursdays. Being able to take this class online would keep them from having to drive to campus for that one or two classes those days, saving gas, and travel time they could utilize completing their online course.

Work-cited page

  1. Allen, I. Elaine, and Jeff Seaman. Online Nation Five Years of Growth in Online Learning. 1st ed. Volume 1. Needham, MA: Sloan Consortium, 2007. 26. Web. 17 November 2009.
  2. Kreijns, K.M., Kirschner, P.A., Jochems, W., & van Buuren, H. (2004). Determining sociability, social space, and social presence in (a)synchronous collaborative groups. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(2), 155-172.
  3. Lewis, Laurie. “Distance Education at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions: 2006-07.” National Center for Education. 30/dec/2008. National Center for Education, Web. 16 Nov 2009. .
  4. Slagter van Tryon, Patrica, and M.J. Bishop. “Theoretical foundations for enhancing social connectedness in online learning environments.” Distance Education 30.3 (2009): 291-315. Web. 17 Nov 2009. .
  5. Taylor, R.W. Pros and cons of online learning - a Faculty perspective. Number 1. Vol. 26 . United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2002. 24-37. Web. 17 November 2009.
  6. Truluck, Janet. “Establishing a Mentoring Plan for Improving Retention in Online Graduate Degree Programs.” University of Georgia x.I (2007): n. pag. Web. 16 Nov 2009. .