Online college vs. traditional learning
Until the early 1980s, the basic mode of delivering education for collegiate professorial staff was basically the traditional lecture. Single, working, residential individuals between the ages of eighteen and twenty three years comprised the student population. However, the non-traditional students begun to dramatically increase. As the new millennium approached, the student population begun to change to employed, married and non-residential. The modules for delivering knowledge also changed with the introduction of new technologies to include online and distant education.
The implementation of these new educational technologies does not take into consideration their effect. Based on a study carried out among university students, the finding and conclusion was that online learning technologies and distance learning are perceived by students to have some benefits over traditional learning even though these benefits are not necessarily related with knowledge. Introduction The traditional mode of education delivery had been such that it took place within the confines of the classroom with the lecturer offering lectures directly and the students listening and taking notes.
Within this context, the interaction between the students and the lecturer was conceived of as the most important element. This paradigm has however been challenged by innovations in education delivery mechanisms. The less exploited education delivery methods such as distance learning have gained new life with advances in information technology. Many higher learning institutions have adopted online education and distance learning as a logical step in educational delivery systems as a result of this. This system is likely to be the future educational pedagogy as it is being actively promoted.
Blustein et al have gone so far as to suggest that the residential based model will become obsolete in the near future (Blustein, Goldstein, Lozier, 1999). The major question however is the impact of this deviation from face to face relationship between the lecturer and the students on learning. Not much research has been done on the effectiveness of the methodologies of distance and online learning by many institutions before adopting them. For a better comprehension of how these learning technologies affect the perception of students on education, a study was conducted among college students.
The aim of this study was to better comprehend the perception of students on the effectiveness of online learning as compared to traditional learning. This paper also assesses the aspects of distance and online learning that are seen by students to provide advantages over the traditional teaching methodology. The structuring of this paper is as follows: the first section establishes a theoretical basis to better comprehend the perception of students concerning distance learning and online learning. Research methodology including survey instrument’s design follows.
The results of the survey are also discussed and finally, a conclusion is drawn and opportunities for further research presented. Background Higher education is typically perceived to have always employed the lecture method in delivering education. This is however a relatively new phenomenon in reality. For many centuries, the mode of passing knowledge had been the apprenticeship form of education. The method is still used in PhD programs today. As time passed, the lecture method of arranging meetings at particular places at a given time was adopted and hence became the basic educational delivery method.
The classroom lecture has not been the only method for educational delivery in the twentieth century. In the past two decades, distance learning through the use of closed circuit television was in use. Correspondence courses have also existed for almost a half a century. However, these methods have not been seen to offer similar learning impact like the lecture method. Formal education was generally left for the few privileged individuals some fifty years ago in the United States. The changes in the United States economy have also led to changes in the educational sector.
Three decades ago, the basic population of undergraduate students was composed of single, residential and full time 18-23 year olds. The telecommunication age brought about alterations in this population, with older people enrolling for the courses. As such, it now includes married, employed and non-residential students. Higher education has also been influenced by increased competition for students. The changing population of students together with new educational competitors has driven the adoption of new educational delivery system that bridges the time-place gap that had been created by traditional courses.
Non-residential education services are being offered by interactive distance teaching and global access to educational instructions through the internet services. Delivery of education has also been encouraged by the decreased cost of personal computers and the increased ability of telecommunication. Theoretical basis The aim of this research is to find out the perception of students concerning the effectiveness of distance learning. Another purpose of this paper is to find out hoe student’s view those dimensions of distance and online learning that might offer relative advantage when compared to traditional teaching methods.
The study is based on three constructs; characteristics of students, prior educational conditions and characteristics of online and distance learning. These constructs influence the perception of students concerning the effectiveness of online learning. Each of the constructs is multi-faceted. Methodology A questionnaire was developed for the purpose of studying these three constructs. The study was then carried out at the participating university in a variety of courses. A total of one hundred questionnaires were collected. Approximately sixty percent of the respondents were females and forty percent were males. The average age was 25.
8 years. The majority of the respondents (70%) had undergone an online course and a considerably large minority (40%) had taken a distance learning course. Combined traditional and online learning methodologies had been taken by a slightly larger percentage (71%). The sample was taken from sophomores to graduate students, with juniors comprising 60% and seniors comprising 30% of the respondents. The remaining 10% were either sophomores of graduate students. The, sample seemed representative of the entire student body. Results The students were not clear about the effectiveness of online learning as compared to traditional methods.
The respondents believed they could attain the same grade in an online course. When asked about the effectiveness of online courses as compared to traditional courses, they disagreed even though not significantly. They agreed that they learned better when online courses were combined with traditional courses even though this was not significant too. They also did not seem to prefer online courses to traditional courses. The second goal of the research was to find out the aspects of online learning that offered advantages relative to traditional methods. The findings indicated that online learning offered some benefits to students.
Most of these advantages are related with time saving, scheduling and the ability to take more courses. The findings also indicated that that online made it easy for students to attend more classes even though this finding was not significant. The perception of the students was that online courses made class discussions difficult and also that it required significant changes on the part of the student. It is thus clear that online learning also offer some disadvantages. Conclusion The research indicates that students view online learning as having relative advantages to traditional methods.
These include time saving, better scheduling and allowing students to take more courses. However, they do not see that they learn more in online courses and are concerned about their ability to contribute to class discussions. However, the students are not clear on their comparison of online courses and traditional learning methods. They prefer traditional courses to online courses even though they want more online courses. Limitation This study surveyed students from one college only and the results cannot therefore be generalized to other colleges. Future Research
Future research should encompass other universities so that broader generalizations can be made. This would also make it useful to test the linkages between variables. Online teaching seems to be the future teaching methodologies. The research findings indicate that online learning and distant learning should be considered as separate methodologies. References Beller, Michal and Ehud Or 1998. “The Crossroads between Lifelong Learning and Information Technology: A Challenge Facing Leading Universities,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Blustain, Harvey, Philip Goldstein, and Gregory Lozier 1999. “Assessing the NeSample Essay of StudyFaq.com