What do distance learning institutions need to improve further?
It goes without saying that online education is the future of gaining all the needed knowledge, for every nationality, every social group of people and for everyone’s budget.
The benefits from distance learning are well known: ease of access, time stretch studies upon one’s needs, low or no fees, convenience of learning everywhere and at any time.
However, online students have to be aware of the following challenges:
1. Learning over extended period of time: A recognized experience has to be gained and exchanged in order to have sustainable distance learning studies nourish. Online interactive resources are expensive and it will take time for the investment to be paid back. But once the quality education is transferred online, the results will show for themselves.
2. Assessment: Since online knowledge is tested only via personal examination of the students, for subjects that require laboratory or field tests this will be difficult to achieve, since pupils will not have home labs to prove their knowledge. Online educational entities will have to work on a way of having virtual labs to achieve this purpose and make the online education on the same level as traditional universities do.
3. Qualification recognition: The number of online accredited degrees and certificates is still lagging behind the traditional educational institutions. Distance learning providers will have to put more efforts in making their knowledge provided to the pupils in the same line as the classical degrees are achieved. This is not insurmountable, but it is a matter of efforts constraints and willingness to achieve this goal.
4. Social moments among pupils: The generations in their thirties and above recollect the times when they were studying and mingling among the students from various college or universities groups. The coffee breaks, the campus parties, the informal chats are precious in the memories of many pupils and students. Distance learning programs will have to include these activities in the after hours option for their students in order to cope or supersede the traditional educational institutions.
Since on-campus education is already using online resources, extensively blending online tools and new technologies in the standard classes. It will be up to the distance learning courses and programs creators to think about the implementation of the above given challenges in their curriculum and win this final game with the traditional schools.