Is Online Learning as Effective as Learning in Traditional Classrooms
Knowledge and learning are the most important factors of production nowadays. In addition, they are the main competitive advantages of any person. Information is a key driver of success and development of mankind. A person gets information during the whole life. If one wants to reach success in life, he/ she should have sufficient professional and educational background. Only in this case, person’s value in the human capital market will increase. That is why the role of education cannot be overestimated. This fact is quite understandable for any person in the world. However, there are no similar attitude and opportunities for education in different countries. People in developed countries consider education as an integral element of life while people in the developing ones consider it a luxury. It happens because they do not have similar opportunities for education. The modern world is developing and changing nowadays. It is important to meet these changes for any person. Modern technologies like the Internet have become an integral element of life. For example, almost a third part of the world’s population uses the Internet today. On the one hand, it means that the area covered by the World Wide Web is almost unlimited. On the other hand, there is still a great potential for growth. Simple people and even business have already understood that the Internet provides numerous instruments of reaching their goals. In modern settings, its opportunities are unlimited.
Education also has not stayed aside from this process. Education via the Internet or simply speaking, online learning is becoming more and more popular nowadays. To begin with, the paper provides a definition of the term ‘online education.’ In our opinion, one of the most appropriate definitions of this term is the following:
“Online education is defined as the creation and proliferation of the personal computer, the globalization of ideas and other human acts, and the use of technology in exchanging ideas and providing access to more people. Audio, video, computer, and networking technologies are often combined to create a multifaceted instructional delivery system. The fundamental method to unite the distance learning instructor with the distance learner is the network. Networks suitable for distance learning implementations include satellite, cable modem, digital subscriber lines (DSL), and wireless cable” (Sabri, n. d.).
Simply speaking, online learning or online education is an option when one gets knowledge not in the classroom, but at home via the Internet. Generally, online education does not require one’s physical presence in a classroom. Online education is quite a new phenomenon in the modern world. It has become to develop only a few years ago. Nowadays, a student can find and use such sources as Coursera or Edx, where it is really easy to register for courses from universities around the whole world. Also, almost every famous university in the world proposes its own online courses.
Of course, online learning has a lot of advantages and disadvantages. Among the advantages of online learning, the following ones may be pointed out. First, because of online learning, courses of such Universities as Harvard become more available for people in different corners of the glove. Usually, such online courses are free. As a result, one can get required knowledge without significant financial expenditures. Therefore, it is sound to say that online learning is financially fair. Second, such platforms as Coursera offer a broad selection of academic courses. One can choose not only between different subjects, but, also, between different universities. More important is the fact that online learning eliminates borders in education: a student from India can attend courses in England, for example. Third, online learning makes education more available for disabled people. Usually, such people do not have an ability to visit classes in a classroom. As a result, access to education is blocked, and their competitive advantages are limited. Online learning eliminates such physical borders; a disabled person can simply visit interesting courses from home.
Finally, online education is available for any person from any country of the world. There are quite limited opportunities for education in some countries, for example, in Africa. Their citizens cannot attend appropriate courses in their native countries (there are no needed universities), and they do not have money to travel to the developed countries. This restriction is eliminated by online learning. This opinion can be proved by the following words:
“Around the world, some 75 million children – more than half of them girls – have no opportunity to attend primary school. One in three children in Africa that are enrolled in school drop out of primary education. For socially disadvantaged groups such as rural or indigenous communities, poor urban dwellers, AIDS orphans or the disabled, access to education is especially difficult. Four out of five children who do not go to school live in rural regions” (Education in developing countries, n. d.).
On the other hand, online learning has its own disadvantages. Among them, the following ones may be pointed out. First, it sounds interesting, but people in developing countries may not have access to the Internet. That is why the problem of availability of education cannot be solved absolutely. Second, not all information is presented in online courses, as professors do not tend to show all their knowledge during such classes. As it has been already mentioned, information is the most valuable resource nowadays; that is why it costs some money. The most valuable information cannot be absolutely free. Finally, it is impossible to control students via the Internet. Feedback is limited, and professors do not have an opportunity to motivate students. It is commonly known that motivation and feedback are very important factors in education.
To conclude, we would like to answer the main question of the research paper whether online learning is as effective as education in a classroom. We believe that online education provides a lot of opportunities for mankind and can change its future. However, it is still not as effective as education in a classroom. First, not all information is presented in online courses. Second, it is impossible to motivate and control students via the Internet. Without control and motivation, students relax, and efficiency of their learning is falling. Effective professor-student communication is simply impossible. Online communication does not have some emotional influence on students. Finally, it is impossible to control whether students do not cheat via the Internet. Considering all these factors, we must say that online learning is not as effective as learning in a classroom. On the other hand, we should value all the opportunities and develop online education, because of the benefits mentioned above. All the mentioned constraints should be eliminated. Of course, it requires significant time and money, but the final benefits are going to be much higher than the initial costs. Only in this case, online education will become more effective than learning in a classroom. We believe that it is going to happen in the nearest future. It should be a common initiative of government, NGO, business and society, in general. It is a common goal of humanity that requires joined efforts and actions.