Arguing on the Advantages and Disadvantages of Earning Degrees
Online Learning vs. Traditional Brick-And-Mortar Education
Knowledge is the power and, thus, the reason as to why we always strive to acquire it through different mediums. There are two different modes of learning existing, under which the knowledge is acquired. Both the online and traditional brick-and-mortar education is the two modes of learning that exist. The traditional system is the mode that for a long time has been widely used. This system involves the various aspects of learning, when a student directly gets in touch with a teacher, and the mode of information exchange is face to face. There is a personal appearance of the student to the classroom. The online learning, on the other hand, is the mode of learning, while the student is not required to personally attend classes to get the good information exchange but can acquire the same services being on a far distance through the use of technology. This paper seeks to analyze these two modes of study and to determine, which mode fits the current environment characterized by the digital world (Leon, 2007).
With the current age of information and technology, where almost all services are digitalized, there has been an evolution in the education sector, where technology has become the part and parcel of the today’s learning. The use of technology does not necessarily mean that the mode of learning is the online means. Even the traditional mode of study also uses the technology in the dissemination of information and the transmission of knowledge from the lectures to students. Online learning has been referred to by many terms such as the e-learning or distance learning. These terms, however, refer to one and the same thing but they are different, to some extent, hence at the times it is not reasonable to use these terms interchangeably. While the e-learning refers to the use of information technology in learning, online learning uses this concept but incorporates other aspects of study. In the online learning, a student does not necessarily have to make a personal appearance to class but with the aid of technology the student in Europe can join such class while being physically in the United States. The student can engage into this mode of learning throughout his/her academic life, where the academic materials and lectures are availed through the means of technology. This age of the technological innovation has come along the way to help students acquiring the degrees from their universities of choice without necessarily having to travel to that institution. Administering the exams in these institutions is also done online with the help of such technologies as websites and email. Most people often refer to this type of learning as the web based learning and teaching (Nicholas, 2007).
In order for this mode of education to work well and achieve the highest degree of reliance, both the teacher and student have to be well versed with the latest technologies that use internet to interconnect people from different institutions and even states. This mode of education is possible due to the fact that there is the use of technology exchanging the educational and contemporary information among the people being far apart from each other. This is the reason as to why this mode of study is at times referred to as the distance learning and e-learning because students do not have specifically to travel to get that information. Also, with the presence of information technology e-learning facilitates the distance learning, thus, constituting the online learning.
This mode of learning is more common among universities and colleges. This may be attributed to the fact that students in these levels of institutions are grown up and can manage to study on their own still retaining the relevance of education. At a tender age, students may require to be supervised and directed by someone on various aspects of education. So the online learning is not common at the early stages of education. The mode of online learning is common among adult students having the various responsibilities, and, thus, they find the little or no time to attend lectures being in the class. People being in the working class level cannot secure the study leave often finding this mode of study effective in addressing their needs. Furthermore, these people are intellectuals in different fields. They have the concept of valuing education with them. Online study offers a little guidance in practical aspects and, hence, not a very effective mode of delivering technical degrees.
Modalities of Online Learning
There is a number of modalities that enhance and facilitate the online learning. These modalities are the various approaches through which an academician or a learner can access the information online. As I have mentioned earlier teaching and learning revolve around sharing of information and knowledge, hence, the existence of various modalities under which a student can access and share the information even with his fellow colleagues via internet. The first modality is the self-spaced online learning. Under this modality, the student is in the position to acquire knowledge through the retrieval of learning materials and resources through the use of internet. The student undertaking a research from internet is a clear example of this modality of study. The other modality involved is the self-spaced individual offline learning. Under this mode, the individual does not have to be necessarily connected to internet but makes use of the computer based technology to retrieve any information. The use of learning materials in soft copies is the example of this modality of learning. In this modality, the student may make use of the CD, for instance, to access learning materials.
The other modality of online learning is the group based learning. Under this modality of online learning, students engage each other into discussions and sharing of information by the use of internet. Information in this modality may be shared in the form of text-based or videoconferencing services. Regardless of the modality used, the key purpose of any modality is sharing the knowledge with a major objective of achieving academic goals. In the digital world, most institutions of higher learning are moving towards the automation of the services they are offering. If this trend goes on, it may be argued that in few years to come to learning will be accomplished via online where students being at the age of the industrial revolution will be getting their degrees and the certification online. This trend will also instill a sense of self-reliability among students alongside allowing the critical and creative engagement among students (Leon, 2007).
Contemporary Trend in Online Learning
Organizations and institutions have grown to the age of technological advancement. Initially some institutions that contemplated the issue of online learning through the installation of services such as distance learning have been very much grateful to the inventions in technology. These inventions facilitate their system of learning that they have anticipated. The management in institutions of higher learning finds it prudent to incorporate the information technology to the aim of achieving objectives of becoming digitalized in the digitalized economy. Students, on the other hand, have had the exposure on technological devices when they are young. At their tender age, they have become well versed with the certain aspects of technology. It, therefore, seems rational to make use of these technological devices as the means of instilling knowledge to students. Teachers, on the other hand, are faced with the changing needs in their teaching practice. The advancement in technology is an aspect that teachers have to cope with and, therefore, the interest of using technology among teachers to increase the advancement in technology. The growth of online learning is, thus, a major aspect in the educational sector. The growth in technological advancement adds directly to the improvement in online learning (Leon, 2007).
The growth of online learning is, however, not without challenges. A number of challenges face this mode of study. The availability of infrastructural development is, for instance, a major blow to the progress of online learning. Most of the various parts of the world and especially the third world countries face a major challenge in the infrastructural improvement in technology. If there are the lacks of the technological infrastructure in some parts of the world; it is prudent to conclude that we still have some miles to go before education and learning fully going online. The cost associated with the technological maintenance is high; and it proves to be a burden to some people to be able to cope with this challenge. However, the innovation is the mother of invention and through the innovative indulgence we will automatically find the solutions to these problems.
Medium for Online Learning
Online learning occurs through various methods. The medium through which this kind of learning occurs depends on the institution and the level of technology. Different students prefer different mediums under which to get and share the information. This section analyzes several mediums for online learning. The most powerful medium for online learning is via the internet. This medium acts as a core and support medium for the other channels of learning. A person who is connected to internet will have a chance to search for learning materials online. The teacher will upload notes in the internet for students to access, and, in this sense, the teacher does not need to have the physical contact with students. The other channel of learning is by the use of videos. Most students find it unpleasing to stick to written notes, and in this case they prefer to use videos. The internet will facilitate this since it is the core channel through which online learning and teaching is affected. The videos may be uploaded in such way that with a click of the button students listen to the certain recording from their teacher. This channel also makes use of CDs, DVDs among other software devices to enhance online studies. There are many software devices in computers that are designed to facilitate this kind of learning.
However, only students with the capability to use this service can use it to affect his/her learning and, thus, the need for students to be well versed with the technological advancement if this mode of learning is going to be effective. The length of the video recording depends on the content that the teacher wants to give to students. The use of videoconferencing via internet has been supportive to this medium of online learning. The other medium of online learning is the use of web. The web based learning has of late been an effective method for online learning. The effectiveness of this again depends on the availability of internet connections. The notes and assignments are administered through the web, and that is the reason as to why online learning is at times referred to as web-based learning. Under this mode, lecturers can administer the exams online where the student is supposed to undertake that exam and forward it back to the lecturer. The certain software like the adobe reader facilitates the conversion of online notes into the pdf-formatted files. In such way, the notes or examinations may be printed. The web-based learning can be set in such manner that only the intended party reaches the information disbursed. The security to such information is made possible by the use of log-ins and passwords. The participants in this kind of learning can open personal accounts where the information is disbursed to the specific account intended. Regardless of the media used, it is necessary to ensure that there is the effective communication of information between the parties involved. Effective, in this sense, implies that the information disbursed should be timely and relevant so that the parties involved can understand the medium used. There, however, should be the certain critical guidelines that will authenticate this mode of learning so that the objectives of this mode of study may be accomplished. The authentic online learning, in this sense, is a resourceful approach in the facilitation of the students’ higher learning.
Argument for Online Learning
This section analyses the arguments for the online learning by taking a clear look at the advantages of this mode of learning. Those, in support of this mode of learning, lay their arguments on the basis of the advantages. This mode of learning particularly favors those students being already at work, and they are seeking the advancement in knowledge. The various degrees of programs offered online and the presence of virtual schools enables to kill the curiosity for learning among this group of individuals. This means that they are in the position to attend virtual classes. The word ‘virtual’ in this context implies to the non-existence of physical structures. Several advantages are associated with this mode of learning as outlined below. The first advantage that accrues to this mode of learning depends on the aspect of convenience. Both lecturers and students have the access to this mode of learning any time they feel like, since the program is available throughout. The student, in this case, missing during the study can only be attributed to his/her failure. Everything that the students require is to start with the reading materials; and the instructor’s guides can be accessed online through different mediums discussed above at any time of the day that the participants in this program are comfortable with. The convenience is even more profound in the sense that the student has the responsibility of setting his/her own schedule as there are no strict rules regarding the observance of the given program.
The concept of convenience brings us yet to another advantage of online learning. Online courses are flexible by their nature, and this is also a trait of this mode of learning that makes it possible for students, particularly those at work, force. Those students with other responsibilities may be able to adopt the program. Flexibility comes in the sense that there is no strict observance of the certain program, and, thus, a student has the power to set his/her own program. Students can first of all attend to their other responsibilities before embarking on their studies. This is unlike the traditional mode of education, where learning takes place in physical structures with a face-to-face exchange of information. The students in this program have to follow the strict programs set by various institutions. The flexibility of online courses gives a degree of independence to students and the sense of self-discipline, since students have no instructor to monitor after their study behaviors. People have the schedules that keep on changing depending on the changing needs of their practices. Under such circumstances, they will have to adjust their learning strategies to reflect their changing practices. There are certain issues that refrain students from attending regular classes. These may be the family responsibility and distance that the student has to travel for to access these physical classes. Taking all these factors into consideration, it appears that flexibility in this mode of learning is an important aspect in fulfilling the study needs of students being faced with a lot of responsibilities to attend to. With the world changing and the people having more responsibilities to do, it is logical that this mode of study will persist due to its nature of flexibility (Leon, 2007).
The supporters of this mode of learning argue that students derive the satisfaction due to the fact that they don't require traveling so that they access learning. Learning has been made easier, and, thus, students can access the education and acquire the degrees right for the comfort of their homes or work places. Since there are no physical structures for this mode of learning, and, thus, the term virtual learning. But the student is not required to make any travels to attend classes. The sense that students can undertake their studies right at their homes will strengthen the co-existence of family members that will support each other in studies and also motivate one another to study. The other merit of this kind of study is the direct connection to the instructor. There often the times that the students have to attend physical classes and in some time start forgetting some concepts that were taught in class. In the case of online studies, students can forward their queries or questions to their instructors directly via email. The fact that there is no physical contact with the instructor, and other students eliminate the fear that the student may be asking questions that may seem stupid. Online learning, thus, enables students to ask any questions that seem challenging in the quest of gathering knowledge and seeking for the career advancement. Online learning also allows students to interact with other students online, thus, strengthening social ties amongst them even if they may never meet physically. One of the platforms of online learning addressed above allows students to discuss online learning, thus, facilitating the sharing of knowledge and adding the value to one another.
Online learning gives the life skills. This means that a student who engages in the studies online gains such skills like internet based skills, accessing the information through the internet among others. These skills can be used during the lifetime, since the growth in the information technology and digitalization of the world comes along with the use of internet. All services including a job application, the applications for joining learning institutions, businesses sales and marketing make use of internet. Skills that are gained due to the online learning will be helpful to the student in engaging into life skills and practices. Online learning also instills the sense of self-discipline for students. This is so because the mode of learning does not provide any close supervision on the study behavior of students. Most of students and also instructors are at the times influenced by the power of procrastination to postpone their duties and engagements. However, in this mode of study, the participants have to instill the sense of self-discipline amongst them in order to make this mode of study successful. The lack of any force that is directing the student to do certain roles or to read certain notes at the given time means that the student has to offer the self-guidance on the kind of program to adopt in the quest of achieving some academic objectives.
A financial aspect is another advantage that accrues to this mode of learning. Students engaging in this kind of program incur relatively low costs as compared to the students who engage in a traditional mode of learning. The student does not necessarily have to incur some transport and accommodation charges, as they study comfortably at their places of residence. Online learning helps the student to connect with other citizens in the global world. This means that students via internet connect with each other for long distances. With the advancement in technology, the world is becoming the global world as everybody can get in touch with one another just with a click of the button. The internet has been described as one of the mediums for online studies; and since it also doubles as the medium for communication. It helps in interconnecting people all over the world. One can get to know what a different institution offers for a similar course and compare notes. All this is enhanced through the core medium of online learning that is internet (Anita, 2006).
There are many advantages for this mode of learning existing. Some of them are not described in this paper. However, the flexibility that comes along with this mode of learning makes it suitable for students to be engaged into different roles. The online learning is though having some disadvantages as well.
Disadvantages of Online Learning
There are certain demerits that accrue to this mode of writing. The antagonist of this mode of learning has based his view on them. The antagonist argues that the lack of the face-to-face interaction with the teacher denies the student from a chance to interact with the teacher on the unique basis. The lack of any physical contact denies the student from the interaction platform with the teacher. The other disadvantage in this kind of study lays in the fact that the instructor may not always be available when the student is retrieving the information online; thus, he is faced with some problems in retrieving this information. Since we have said that this mode of learning offers the flexibility to its participants, the situation may arise when the student needs a certain instruction from the instructor, while the teacher may be unavailable. In such case, there is a limited assistance that the student may receive from the instructor.
The lack of physical structures and the routine program like in the traditional mode of education may make the student feel confused concerning learning activities and procedural requirements for meeting the certain set deadlines. The failure to meet the set deadlines may be caused by other factors such as the low internet connection and the lack of power. This is another disadvantage of this mode of study, since its effectiveness is dependent on the effectiveness of technology. The low learners’ motivation is another concept that goes along with online learning. Students with the low morale for learning are lacking the encouragement in their study, and, thus, they may end up failing. Online learning requires the use of technology for it to be effective. The development in technology is different in various states. Many institutions all over the world have not fully assumed the role of online studies in their teaching and learning systems. This means that even if the students are willing to join this system of learning, they may be constrained by the availability of relevant technology.
The fact that not all students are well versed with the current information technology means that they cannot fully be engaged into knowing each other. As a result, this mode of learning poses a lot of challenges to such group of students. However, this is the challenge that may be overcome by the sole responsibility of students, their motivation and interest in acquiring the new knowledge. For this group of students at the start level, it may be the challenge for them to manage the computer software required for the effective online learning. Virtual classrooms may not be reliable for technical courses that require the performance of practical classes and the presence in a lab. Certain experiments and practice require the instructor’s guidance alive. Students undertaking these courses and that want to switch to online learning may be constrained by this aspect. Institutions that offer such courses online through the use of manuals and videoconferencing also face the certain setbacks. The students may not be in the position to comprehend some procedural requirements (Leon, 2007).
At this age of the industrial revolution, every process in the world makes use of technology. It is, therefore, prudent for all citizens to take the initiative of learning and to use the modern technology in their various operations of life. The advantages of online learning supersede the disadvantages, thus, we can conclude that online learning is an effective program that students can use to access the information. By concluding that it is an effective method that should be adopted does not necessarily mean this is the best mode of learning to be recommended for institutions. However, in order to be able to make an inclusive conclusion, we need to turn our focus on the other mode of learning and to analyze it as well.
Traditional Brick-And-Mortar Education
This mode of learning has been traditionally used in the setting of various institutions. Saying that it has been traditionally used does not negate the fact that it is being used today. It only implies that this mode of learning has appeared before the age of the industrial revolution. This mode of study involves the face-to-face interactions between the teacher and the student. The setting of this mode of learning is in classrooms, where students and teachers communicate with each other. This mode of learning is still used today in most of learning institutions in the developing universities. This may be attributed to the fact that this mode of education does not require a high level use of technology. In the universities that use the traditional brick-and-mortar education, the technological advancement has a lot issues to be achieved. This method is more suitable to students even at their tender ages because of the direction and supervision that these students require. In the developed economies, this type of learning has been replaced into the online learning (Leon, 2007).
The setting in the classroom allows the students to raise some queries and questions to the teachers and to get an immediate response. The structural development is a critical concept under this mode of learning. This is because students and lecturers require some structures to execute their duties. Under the word structure, in this case, I refer to the physical structures like classrooms and lecturers’ offices. This mode of learning is effective for regular students demanding to make a regular appearance in classrooms. Administering the examination, it is done in examination rooms and halls with the supervision of instructors. This kind of study ensures that the students get a credit for their individual efforts as they are required to independently sit at exams with the supervision of their lecturers. The practice developed in the face-to-face teaching and learning serves a better purpose in enhancing the online learning. For instance, teachers engaged in the face-to-face teaching still lead the education online. Students with the cases of disability are well-suited to use this system of education as they still require the physical assistance. This mode of education focuses more on the structural development as compared to the technological advancement. In this setting of education, there is no ruling out of the use of technology. Even if students attend classes, they may need to research the information in internet. Hence, this type of education also uses the technology for an effective delivery and exchange of knowledge. This system of education is more common in the less developed institutions. It effectively administers the knowledge to students. In order to determine the effectiveness of this kind of education and to be in the position to compare it with the online learning, we need to analyze the merits and demerits of this traditional study.
Advantages of Traditional Brick-And-Mortar Education
Under this system of education, every person has an equal opportunity in acquiring knowledge. If this system of education is not in place, then many people all over the world could not be able to perform the basic calculation. The invention and innovation that we have is a result of the great minds developed in the setting of classrooms. The other aspect is that some parents may not offer their children the online system of learning due to such factors as the affordability of education. Most of governments have provided their children with public schools being cheap and affordable, thus, accessible for many students. Other governments, like the United States, offer the free education in all public schools through the traditional education system. Due to the affordability of this education, it is, thus, accessible to the majority of people that would have no other access to education. The other advantage that accrues to this mode of learning is the availability of various opportunities for students. Through the funding that the school gets they are able to offer some extra-curricular activities to their students on top of providing the academic knowledge to their students. Under this range of opportunities, the students develop their talents, which in some instances become their life earning skills. These extracurricular activities also include some leisure activities like swimming and adventuring. Without this system in place most of small and poor households may not afford such services to their sons and daughters.
Having the environment that students from various locations meet creates a good platform for their social interaction. The classroom setting gives the students some social benefits as it enables the interactions and communication of students with each other. Students studying together in a class environment spend a lot of time with each other, and, thus, they develop the close ties. The activities organized by institutions of higher learning like some entertainments also open a wider platform for interactions among students. The students have a better understanding of their class work as they have the chance to ask questions to their teachers and have a direct response. Students can also engage with each other into discussion groups, where they help each other to understand the concept they have never understood before in the class. This strengthens their knowledge as it also offers the chance for criticism, thus, engaging each other into critical thinking. The traditional education system has the curriculum that acts as the advantage to those students never having the ability to plan. The school provides a program that has to be strictly adhered to, and, thus, this serves as instilling and strengthening the sense of discipline and self-control amongst students.
In the instructional mode of setting, the face-to-face mode of delivery is the best one. This is because in the instructional program, the teacher has to analyze the behavior of students by assessing their learning behaviors and in so doing adopting the best means of delivery of knowledge. They will try to instruct their students to better meet the objective of learning. The students also provide the information to the teacher regarding their capabilities and understanding, and in this sense they are not being the passive participants in the learning process. The instructional method is effective in the traditional education setting. Passing and sharing the information is not necessarily done through some verbal or written means. It also incorporates the aspect of the non-verbal communication. This type of communication can only be possible as a setting. In this sense, therefore, the traditional mode of education becomes effective. The traditional education system has certain demerits that may make it unfavorable among certain groups of students (Leon, 2007).
Disadvantages of the Traditional Brick-And-Mortar Education
Certain disadvantages accrue to this mode of learning. The inflexibility in this mode of learning makes it impossible for the working class that cannot be granted the educational leave. Parents and adults having various roles and responsibilities find this mode of learning not accommodative. This is because the traditional education system has its setting in classrooms, and students have to adhere to the certain set regular program. This regular program is enforced to students by the learning institution. It has to be followed strictly. Those that cannot be in the position to follow the set program are disadvantaged, as they may never get enrolled in the education system either for further studies or advancements of their careers. In the classroom setting, there are many students in most of classes which have to be taught by a single tutor. This denies the students from the opportunity of a personal interaction with the instructor during the teaching process. Due to the presence of many students, the lecturer will use a generalized mode of teaching to meet his objective. It should be understood, however, that different students have different capabilities in terms of learning and understanding. The different levels of capabilities should be addressed in a special manner but in such cases when the lecturer is dealing with a large group of students. This aspect may not be possible unless there is the support staff to assist in this role. This is the disadvantage in the class setting occasioned by different levels of strengths and weaknesses among students. It is completely impossible for a single teacher to deal with the class of hundred students giving everybody the special attention. This is the reason as to why there will be the disparity in the performance among students.
Students have different learning skills. Some students may prefer a visual presentation, others verbal and even some may need the written one. In the traditional mode of education in different categories of students, it may be impossible for the teacher to accommodate with all delivery methods at the same time. Thus, the students’ capabilities are not taken into consideration, and the system may end up giving the poor results. On the perspective of interaction, students are kept on the platforms together with their age mates. While this kind of interaction may work well among adults, it is not the best form of interaction among children and young people. People need to interact and socialize with other persons at their level, at the lower and higher as well. This kind of interaction and socialization is effective and profitable, as it adds the values to the system of education.
The traditional approach to education, as analyzed above, has both disadvantages and advantages. But it is, however, critical to note that even though it has some disadvantages, it is the system that has enabled most students, especially in small and poor households, to access any education.
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