Universities and colleges are now offering qualifications through distance learning from the Internet rather than teachers in the classroom. Do you think the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?
Information technology is playing an increasingly important role in knowledge acquisition. Therefore, an increasing number of people are able to acquire a higher academic qualification by attending online course. Compared with the traditional way of learning in the classroom, this new pattern has its own merits and demerits in some aspects.
The advantages of offering qualifications via online courses rather than teachers in classrooms can never be ignored. First of all, distance learning programmes are flexible in terms of time and space, as long as students could have access to the Internet. They offer a valuable option for people with special needs, such as full-time workers or those who have families to take care of and are unable to attend classes at regular hours. Secondly, the relatively less expensive tuition fees of distance programmes ought to be taken into consideration. The costs of online education are affordable for lower-income families. As a result, those who live in rural and remote areas with low earnings would have more opportunities to receive high-quality schooling.
However, learning online rather than learning in classrooms also has drawbacks due to the lack of face to face communication. This new methodology focuses on imparting and receiving knowledge, without interaction between teachers and students. Even though teachers can answer questions via the Internet, students would feel a sense of isolation. By contrast in traditional classrooms, students can communicate with teachers and classmates and learn how to get along well with their peers. This is an important aspect of education programmes but can not be achieved through distance.
Overall, remote learning programmes are making a contribution to universal education by supplying more flexible choices and lower tuition fees. Nevertheless, they can not be expected to replace learning with teachers in the classroom, because the role of education is more than granting qualifications.