Which Of The Following Is True About Online Learning?

A certain intellectual elite insists that K-12 education should be computerized, but another group of academics are hesitant about handing over power to machines.

Which Of The Following Is True About Online Learning?

Rob Hunter

It’s true that traditional universities and colleges “don’t want to teach these things,” as one literature professor put it. It’s not because they are willfully dishonest. The reality is that with online instruction not only do they not have to meet the high standards of all-knowing professor, they also don’t have to match the numerous concerns of a variety of students and parents.

No 10th grader watching television today is guaranteed to go on to college or advanced degree in the U.S. In fact, the results of studies to determine whether online instruction adds to the education of students are mixed. A review article titled “Online Classroom Learning in Two Generations: Literature and Religion,” in the October 2006 Edition of The Academy of Higher Education states, “For many religious and religious-cultural students, the experience of studying at a university with the shared control, intimacy, power, and sense of faculty professionalism found in traditional classrooms would seem to be closer to a theme park than to a university.”

There’s little that has changed in this one-sentence opinion statement of the previously confused author.

Although in recent years, there have been scattered, but not systematic studies of online courses, what should not be overlooked about online instruction is that it seems to be extremely effective when the particular instructors teach in a certain way.

Essentially, online instructors follow their students’ footsteps when teaching. The students perceive what type of course it is and follow their instructors’ directions as if they were social workers. For example, an online educator could likely lecture the following type of course: study religion, and any other subject that moves his or her students’ intellect forward. Because both students and faculty are keeping pace, learning to read and analyze pieces of public and private opinion that are posted on the internet can be accomplished.

However, too many online educators have a different philosophy. For these instructors, access to books are never enough. They cannot get beyond a read/write cycle. Actually, so much less is needed and work can be done to maintain the performance of students.

This is a good example of why old-fashioned writing is so crucial. Online instructors need to be the active part of the classroom experience. They can engage the students in more dialogue through content-based discussions that surround discussions of current events, mental health, religion, and other subjects. Also, because students usually will finish many topics they are taught in different forms, the instructors can choose to model the structure and practice their English courses via various mediums such as video, DVD, board discussion, etc.

Additionally, in utilizing software, the instructors can create “backstage” work that cannot only be used in the classroom, but can be reviewed by professors working from a distance. No fewer than 30% of universities now provide some form of online instruction, but, as is the case with traditional campuses, virtually every student will always prefer the atmosphere of college-level classes to online instruction.

So, which of the following can be true of online learning? Given the seriousness of both the education delivery system and students in mind, there’s no doubting that websites, email and social media can be extremely effective for reducing academic barriers to an individual’s learning. However, because online instruction does not require a class schedule and can be done at a moment’s notice, there is less stamina on the part of the student and there’s less focus on material being taught.

More than any other channel for transmitting information, however, online instruction only occurs when the faculty and students are working in concert and in a routine. Otherwise, students should expect difficulties utilizing the online instruction methods. Therefore, when students actually learn from their teachers, the results of their work with such instruction will inevitably be much better.

Rob Hunter is the editor of EdTraK, a subscription-based instructional learning resource on learning and academic achievement at http://edtrak.com/.

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