Off-Campus or On-Campus Study
Fellow students and lectures, I want to state from the onset that I believe that learning on campus is better than studying online. The first obvious reason is that students who study on campus have physical access to their lecturers and instructors. In case, a student needs a lecturer or a tutorial fellow to make a clarification about areas that were not understood during normal class hours, they are free to approach the lecturers in their respective offices. Being on campus with the other students also creates a good learning environment. Students can interact and share ideas with fellow students. Discussion groups can be formed and topics of difficulty can be discussed among the students. Since each student will at least have an input, discussion helps a lot in learning areas that were not well understood in class. Suppose these students study online, it will be difficult to access these services. Online studying is not good for slow learners. Learning alone, with the only learning resource being the internet, locks out the student from active class participation. While I agree that online learning reduces traveling expenses and helps solve accommodation problems on campus, it is, in my honest opinion, not the best mode of study. Suppose a student needs urgent permission from the lecturer to attend to emergencies and unexpected illnesses and needs to attend to important family issues, how do they let the lecturer know? They could e-mail the lecturers informing them of such eventualities but technology sometimes fails. What if their laptops could be off the power, or internet traffics are slower.
Learning online offers limited access to learning facilities and resources. A student is not able to access the library, for example. While I realize the availability of online libraries, this is not adequate due to technological failures. Are the students equipped with the necessary skills to use the online library services? True, learning within the campus offers students the opportunity to seek library services and obtain academic resources. Where the students have difficulties using or accessing library services, they could enlist the support of the chief librarian and library support staff. However one looks at it, learning within campus holds greater prospects for a student and advantages to a resident student than online learning does. Students, who study online, tend to be lazier. Technology has made it possible to integrate services within the main campus into satellite campus branches, but is it worse that students are left to study on their own, through the so-called online university programs?
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Current universities have a diversity of programs that offer certificate, undergraduate and postgraduate courses that students can access online. One would argue that these universities have opened up to a wide student base. These higher institutions of learning are offering education through their correspondence programs in their affiliate branches all over the world. While this may be a good idea, the mushrooming of institutions lead to compromised qualities of education (Moran & Ian, 97). Online studying offers broad range of courses that can be accessed online throughout the satellite campuses. Whereas studying online means that the student does not have to set foot on the main campus, there could be lack of coordination to help appropriate and valuable education materials. This mode of study is specifically meant for people with commitments and those, who are not able to go to campus in person. They do not have to be physically present in school to learn. If they require notes and reading materials, these can be e-mailed to them. There are also lecture-student interactive programs online; for example, students can get in touch with their lecturers through video conferencing and technological platforms, such as Skype. Technology has made the world a global village, and today information can be shared freely within the shortest time possible.
One can get in touch with the lecturer online through internet and data-enabled phones while, at the same time, they can attend their family issues. It could be that these parents want to take care of their families, as well, and hate to separate from their loved spouses. One can study in the comfort of their houses, as long as they have access to class notes and readers. There is no longer the issue of distance, which used to be common in most relationships; some people also hate travelling.
There are those people who have phobia for heights and high altitudes. These people do not have to worry since they will not have to travel, in the first place. Moreover, this type of learning is cheaper as compared to study-at-campus mode. No extra money is used, such as travellign costs. All that one has to do is travel once every three months to take exams; sometimes this is not even necessary. Exams can be e-mailed to the students’ addresses. GPAs can be accessed online by a simple click of the mouse, thanks to technology and its conveniences. This mode of study also comes in handy in addressing the plights of students with physical disabilities and those who are not able to walk from one class to another, due to these disabilities (Tuscaloosa 45). Through this system, all they need are internet-accessed computers and the comfort of their houses. Students study without the hassles of traveling or walking long distances to lecture halls. Some universities are extremely expansive, their sizes are enormous (occupying many hectares); walking from one department to another is quite demanding. Anyway, under the second mode of studying, learners do not have to worry about distances and other downsides. Modern conveniences make it possible for them to avoid these hassles of life. The world has truly become a global village. Off-campus or online studies are possible through the delivery of recorded notes. These could be stored in retrieval media, like in the CDS, DVDs, flash disks, and recording tapes (Tuscaloosa 67). All that one has to do is to insert these gadgets into their play-back audio-visual devices. Text books can be purchased from any of the many libraries distributed across the country. These books could be ordered online. Some universities, like some Australian Universities, have ECU bookshops in their satellite campuses (Thelin 65). All one has to do is to walk to the nearest centers, place their order and get the books delivered to their doorsteps. These libraries have a wide range of academic materials, so the learner is not worried about limited access to academic materials.
Where learners require physical access to the institutions’ facilities like conducting or participating in practical work or group projects, one could make arrangements with the lecturers and supervisors. Anyway, such practical work or assessments are usually conducted once in a while, so it is not a daily occurrence. Examinations can be done online, or students can choose any of the centers next to them (at their convenience), so as to lower travelling costs. There is a 24-hour student support services accessible online. Where the distances are relatively shorter, students can make arrangements with their lecturers so as to be supervised once in a while by their lecturers. As opposed to part-time and full-time modes of studies, students studying these programs are at liberty to choose their convenient packages. They are allowed to take up to a minimum of three academic units per semester, so that they are not overwhelmed with excessive academic work. They learn at their own pace and convenience.
The demands of modern life are such that parents are forced to combine responsibilities: work and take care of the family, at the same time. Long distance learning is bad for relationships. Parents are increasingly becoming pressurized to choose between family and education. Of course, these are not easy options. For parents and learners, who want to integrate both family and education commitments, off-campus or online learning mode is the way to resolve this challenge. It offers the convenience of learning at home while, at the same time, attending the needs of the family. Society today places much emphasis on education. In this regard people, both young and old, are continuously rushing to register for these online university courses in a bid to furnish them with the relevant skills needed in the rapidly changing job market (Moran & Ian 29). To do the course, they have to register in campuses closed to them or their satellite branches. Work-study students are not able to go to classes during the day or in the evenings, in pursuit of part-time arrangements. Instead, the better option for them is to consider registering for online courses. These courses offer the convenience of learning from home, so one does not have to worry about issues of inconvenience.
However, the question persists: as compared to at-campus study mode, is off-campus learning mode really the best? These days, such learning centers are scattered almost everywhere. Are education standards being compromised given the little interactions students under these programs have with their lecturers? No ready answers to these questions seem to be available; however, people can enjoy the possibility of making their own choice, in pursuit of finding the balance between their family life and educational requirements.