Face to face has been the traditional way to transforming the knowledge and skills between the learners and the instructors. Online education has grown greatly over the past years which lead to question regarding the effectiveness of the education. Online training is becoming more and more popular due to the cost efficiency associated with it. This report will provide comparison between the traditional face to face and non-traditional online education/training analysis. This report will also discuss the benefits associated with the online education and how does it help students/trainees to absorb more information compare to in class education/ training.
With the rise of the Internet age comes the benefits and the concerns. In this new era of the Internet, most people use the Internet to acquire information of one kind or another. Gathering information online and learning has a huge impact on everyday life. Recently, there has been enormous growth in the field of distance training delivery modes and information technologies. In order to compare the two approaches of teaching and learning, it is necessary to first evaluate the methodologies and instructive procedures used by the trainers. Most of the trainers believe that the only prerequisite essential to achieve strong understanding of the subject under consideration comes from the on campus strength of their institution. In order to achieve success and provide the trainee with right amount of education through online learning, it is necessary for trainers to acquire extra skills to maintain the level of training. The mindset behind the fact that traditional in class education can only provide the strong foundation can be replaced if trainers are willing to increase their knowledge and expertise. At the same time, the institution should also considering hiring new trainers who already possess skills in delivering online material. Institutions must work hard to educate current trainers using different resources in order to achieve the similar success in online learning environment.
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At the same time, trainer's capability to convert the traditional class environment to non traditional, online, class environment directly related to their experience and skills in applying computer software in a way that fulfil the needs of trainees in order to meet the criteria and training standards. Acquiring trainers that already possesses the required skills may demand altering the recruiting procedures and will also increase the cost of training. Trainers who are the product of tradition education and lack the experience and knowledge of online or distance education may require enormous amount of instruction or guidance.
On the other hand, the trainers who possess expertise in online education and are the product of non-traditional education or only possess skills in delivering online education can handle it better compare to other trainers. The fact remains that trainers who are willing to participate in online education programs themselves are more open in willing to teach their own subjects via online learning.
Ernest Boyer, in his book, Scholarship Reconsidered, defines the scholarship of training as "not only transmitting knowledge, but transforming and extending it as well " Mr. Boyer is trying to emphasis on the fact that a good educations is based on the educator's knowledge but also includes all the educational procedures that facilitates the learning and teaching process. In the same book, Mr. Boyer writes that "preparing quality computer software, for example, is increasingly a function of serious scholars, and even videocassette and television offer opportunity for communicating ideas to non-specialists in creative new ways". Once again, he is trying to emphasize that adapting and developing program and courses for delivering through online learning should be considered a form of serious scholarship.
In the book "The 'No Significant Difference' Phenomenon" written by Mr. Russell, elaborates that online training programs are as good and as effective as the traditional in class education. He explains his point of view through the example of Colorado State University University's AACSB-accredited MBA program which is ranked among the top 25% in the country, regardless of the fact that trainees are attending traditional in class education or using online distance education.
Online training provides the opportunity to the trainees to learn at own pace while delivering them interactive and the benefit of anonymous instructions. In the online training, trainers can utilize a wide variety of online resources to facilitate the learning process. Distance courses are a bit different than the traditional in class education in a sense that the trainees, the trainer and the physical classroom are not present at the same location and in the same time. It offers trainees to learn the material at the convenience of their own time but completing the material on the due dates or completing the assignments or questionnaire just as the traditional in class courses. Professor Keith W. Miller, Computer Science University of Illinois at Springfield explains his point of view regarding online education as "I like to answer e-mail at least once a day so trainees get more feedback than in a class that meets two or three times a week. Trainees need not "store up" their questions. Both trainees and teachers can take time to consider what they are discussing; foreign-based trainees are especially happy to be able to work through language problems in a way that's impossible in a face-to-face class." Professor Miller, in his comments is trying to explain the benefits of using technology in order to train trainees in a better and more effective and efficient manner. In his comment, he is also emphasizing on the language barrier problems which he believes can be eliminated easily by using technology.
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At another place Associate Professor, John Dutton of Business Management College of North Carolina State University explain his view as "There are lots of reasons for taking online courses. For example, the costs of getting to a campus might be too high. However, for many trainees, it's really a pleasure to be in a classroom. Most trainees would like a campus-based course because of the interaction, especially if it's a small class. The lecture classes I teach are often large. In such situations, there's not much interaction and not much contrast between online and face-to-face classes. But in a small class, trainees have lots of interaction, not just chalk and talk. They can often get a much fuller explanation of something when they can interact with a person". In his comments he is elaborating more on the interaction and communication between the trainer and the trainee. He believes that communication helps the trainees to understand the material and get the answers to all of their questions but in the situation when class rooms are not small, the most effective way to communicate is the use of technology.
According to the Appendix 1, the most significant debate regarding the online training swirls around the quality of communication and the interaction between the trainee, trainers and the information. There are two schools of thoughts, one believes that the meaningful discussion can only take place effectively in a traditional in class or face to face manner but other thinks that giving a time to trainees to absorb the material and write down their thoughts and question to inquire can be more effective. Distance education or online training can help eliminate the barriers posted by time and location and can also help eliminate the temporal and spatial barriers. In other words, it is not wrong to say that switching from traditional in class education to online education is a movement towards more facilitative approach of teaching that is mostly based on Socratic Method which is "A form of philosophical inquiry that involves two or more speakers. Usually, one is the master (or wise one), while the others are trainees or fools. In practice today, it is a systematic posing of questions or dilemmas in order to direct trainees' thinking along predetermined paths. Individuals or groups are asked to pool their thoughts, experiences and responses to arrive at a solution to the question. The emphasis of the questions should be on critical evaluation and problem solving - not mere factual recall."
At the same, online training can also alter the ways at the workplaces in order to improve the outcomes and educate employees. By using online resources, it will make it easier for all the employees to learn at their own free time. By using online resources and providing the employees with online material can also help the organization to save enormous amount of money in hiring a professional to come and train the classes. Most of the organizations are open round the clock, by providing online material employees can learn from the comfort of their home and not only this but they will have access to all the material whenever they need more information. For example, taking Canada under consideration, there are thousands of newcomers migrate to Canada every year, by proving them information and all the training courses online, it will become much more easier for them to absorb all the information regarding the necessary training to perform a job well done as compare to giving them one time face to face information.
Providing information online can benefit trainers and as well as trainees in a many different ways such as: Online courses are more affordable because the costs associated with living near the campus and travelling expenses can be eliminated and especially for foreign trainees the cost of immigration and solving immigration problems can be eliminated easily. Online course offers the trainees to study at their own set pace and have the material available for them round the clock. It also offers a chance to critical thinking which helps trainees to increase their knowledge as well as increase the ability to think outside the box. Online courses also offer the trainees to do their courses in Just in Time manner. Taking online courses also help the trainees and trainers to improve their computer skills. One of the biggest advantage of online course is the only prerequisite one needs, is the computer and the internet connection.
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The fact is there are always shy trainees in the class and a group of people who only take notes during the class and don't have courage to ask question in the class or discuss with the classmates. The online teaching and learning process offers them the most effective way to communicate. Most of the online courses require the trainees to participate in online discussion three to four times a week. At the same time, many online courses require participation which encourages everyone to participate in online discussion using forums or answering questions. Online educators also comments that the depth of online discussion exceeds the expected in class discussion as more trainees participate. During the online participation, educators can easily steer the conversation towards the major goal and can dominate the aggressive and more talkative trainees. Regarding online discussion, Mr. Larry Kreisler of Penn State World Campus comments "When I was in a [face-to-face] class of 300 people, no one wanted to raise their hands and ask questions. But in an online environment, you don't mind sending e-mails. It's no big deal. People are not afraid to ask questions in e-mails."
According to a New York time article written by Steve Lohr, reveals the information that a recent 93 pages long report issued by SRI international found that, "on average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile. That is a modest but statistically meaningful difference." In response to the findings, Barbara Means, the study's lead author and an educational psychologist at SRI International said, "The study's major significance lies in demonstrating that online learning today is not just better than nothing - it actually tends to be better than conventional instruction."
In another article "Online Inductions vs. Face-To-Face - Which is More Effective, the writer is elaborating on the finding of a report done by US Department of Education which reveals the information that "The overall finding... is that classes with online learning (whether taught completely online or blended) on average produce stronger student learning outcomes than do classes with solely face-to-face instruction,".
As can be seen, online learning does not avert the interaction but it actually increase communication and interaction. The major goal of online learning is to shift the role of learning from passive to active. The major benefit of online learning is the tools it provides to measure the real time retention and allow for corrective measures. Online learning not only provides information and material but also make it easy for the participant to have access to professional peers, experts, colleagues and mentors. At a same time, it also offers the tools to problem solving and decision making effective.
As it is mentioned above, online learning procedure provides access to participants to higher level of education and training by eliminating the barriers of time and location and language. Some of the key points that management must check before implementing a new training strategies would be to check if the new training practices are cost efficient, if they will increase the quality of the product, if the new training is easily accessible to all the employees, the best way to train the employees and how often will it provide feedback for corrective actions. Analyzing the check list, online learning, fits the criteria. The main advantages of online training is that it provides feedback right away, it is the most cost effective way to teach and learn and it provides the time and space to new trainees to learn at their own set pace and become an asset to the organization. By using online learning, an organization can reach at a training process that is more effective and engaging than tradition face to face at economic cost. Online learning can ensure trainees fully mater the jobs which will lead to better job performance and stronger organization.