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Distance Education vs. Traditional Degree

Introduction

The coming of the new millennium has brought new and more challenging technologies. Different forms of communications such as Internet, mobile phones and SMS, Internet chat or MIRCs, and e-groups penetrated majority of the countries around the world. Communication through computer or the generated networks became very visible. This enables any individual to talk with someone one they cannot see in a face-to-face basis; to buy something and have it delivered without having to go out of one’s home, to research for any information with just one click on the Internet, or to meet new friends.

Even on – line studies or distance education through computer – generated communication sprouted like mushrooms. Now, more and more schools started to offer distance form of learning to accommodate students who, due to lack of time, opted to enroll in a much “scheduled-free” learning method. Indeed, distance education is now considered as one of the most practical way of getting a degree, compared to the traditional mode of education.

Electronic Learning or E-learning

With thousands of Internet users and the continuing rising number of the advantages if using Internet, most educational institutions have decided to go along with the trend and maximize the use of internet in the pursuit of promoting education.

Electronic learning or e-learning or most commonly known as the form of distance education is the new recognized method of getting an educational degree nowadays. And there are a number of valid reasons why. One of the foremost reasons is the fact that e- learning is a form of learning that is stirred primarily through the use of telecommunication technologies, such as electronic mail, bulletin board systems, electronic whiteboards, inter-relay chat, desktop video conferencing and the worldwide-web (Carlson & Repman, 1999).

E-learning may seem a bit different from the traditional classroom style of education. In traditional classroom settings, key interactions that affect learner attitudes and performance often occur spontaneously (Carlson & Repman, 1999). More so, class room instructors interpret verbal and nonverbal cues, clarify expectations, facilitate activities, promote discussions, elaborate concepts, render guidance and provide timely and appropriate feedback as they present content in a clear and engaging manner. (Carlson & Repman, 1999). Lastly, classroom instructors can also make up for flaws in design by utilizing their appeal to gain and sustain learners’ attention and their experience to shed light on complex or confusing content matter. (Carlson & Repman, 1999).

Meanwhile, by using the distance or e-learning approach, communications are predominately asynchronous and mediated by technology. Opportunities to interact in “real-time” are moderately confined. (Carlson & Repman, 1999). Lastly, key interactions that occur spontaneously in traditional classroom environments must be carefully designed and sequenced as an integral part of e-learning (Carlson & Repman, 1999).

How to Avoid E-Learning Failures

A growing number of organizations are embracing e-learning as an advantageous approach to delivering training. In fact, some observers estimate that since 2005 as much as 90 percent of all training are delivered electronically.

But in the rush to implement e-learning, educational institutions are making unfortunate mistakes caused by being unacquainted with the proper uses and requirements of e-learning or by miscalculating the resources and expertise needed to ensure a program’s success. Given that e-learning is still new and unfamiliar territory for many organizations, it isn’t surprising that mistakes occur. Adding to the confusion are the large number of e-learning suppliers and the wide variation in technology, functionality, and services that surround the design and implementation of an effective e-learning program, such as an e-learning course for nursing students.

There are common mishaps associated with e-learning approaches and the possible solutions:

Believing that e-learning is a cheaper training alternative (Weaver, 2002), especially if the course is for the nurses as this is believed to be one of the most expensive course when taken in the formal class-room approach

E-learning has many advantages: scalability, broad geographic reach, and unmatched delivery speed among others, but these advantages don’t make e-learning less expensive than other training delivery methods. If all training is put on the Web, implementation costs will be reduced.

E-learning can be cost-effective, especially with a large number of users in multiple locations. But don’t expect a meticulously planned, effectively implemented, well-marketed system that meets or exceeds expectations to come cheaply. Like most investments, money must be spent to make money (Weaver, 2002).

Overestimating what e-learning can accomplish (Weaver, 2002).

Despite a growing reliance on e-learning, instructor-led training still predominates. According to a recent Development Dimensions International survey, 68 percent of leadership development training is classroom based; other studies report an even higher percentage (Weaver, 2002).

Such statistics suggest that e-learning will never supplant instructor-led training. One reason is because people are social learners. We like to learn in groups, exchanging thoughts and ideas and interacting with peers face-to-face. Classroom-based instructor-led training provides that experience; Web-based training generally doesn’t.

This idea should be bear in mind, so that any school that wishes to establish an e-learning system will not over or underestimate the achievements that the system can attain.

Conclusion

E-learning is being adopted rapidly in all business and educational sectors because of its ability to deploy knowledge quickly and efficiently to a large number of dispersed people.

However, with the advent of e-learning there will be a shift in the way workers in general learn. First, learning will be delivered on a continual basis. Instead of taking an eight-hour classroom course, learners will receive knowledge and instruction when and where they need it, in small chunks of directed relevant information. Second, with distance education, the focus will be on improved human performance, not on checking off a completed course title. Finally, learning will be personalized. A supervisor will be able to immediately assign learning if she sees a gap in an employee’s knowledge. Similarly, an employee can track what learning he or she wants to pursue.

With e-learning in the future of students and professionals, the opportunities for human knowledge to expand quickly, personally and effectively are boundless.

References

Carlson, R. D., & Repman, J. (1999). Web-based interactivity. WebNet Journal, 1(2), 11-13.

Cuban, L. (1993). How teacher taught (2nd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.

Goettner, Pete (2000) “Effective E-learning for Healthcare.” Health Management Technology. Nelson Publishing.

Hill, N., Williams, R., & Hirumi, A. (2001). Facilitating the development of e-Learning through a support site. Concurrent session presented at the annual Texas Distance Learning Association conference, Houston, TX.

Merrill, D., Li, Z., & Jones, M. K. (1990). Second generation instructional design. Educational Technology, 30(2), 7-15.

Weaver, Pete. 2002. “Preventing e-learning failure: ten common pitfalls and how to avoid them.” American Society for Training & Development, Inc.