Online education has become extremely popular in the world over the last decade. A great variety of online programmes are offered not only by virtual educational platforms but also by most highly recognized universities and colleges in the world. Different scholars are researching the issue of online learning and have arguments about the advantages and disadvantages of online learning as well as its impact on education generally.
The report about online learning that I have read is called “ Changing course: Ten years of tracking online education in the United States” (Allen & Seaman,2013). This report presents the findings of the ten-year study of the state of online learning in the sphere of higher education in the USA. The aim of the study was to answer general questions about the nature and extent of online education. Based on the responses of more than 2800 colleges and universities, the study addressed the issue of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), strategic nature of online education for the universities, number of online students, changes that happen to the faculty members, comparison of online and face-to-face education outcomes, barriers to establishing online education widely.
The major findings of the report state that MOOCs is becoming more popular and this popularity will continue to grow in future as the number of students enrolling in online courses increases. This tendency has made the top world university consider establishing online education strategic to them, thus “69.1% of higher education institutions consider that online learning is critical to their long-term strategy” (Allen & Seaman, 2013, p.4).
At the same time the report announces certain barriers to widespread adoption of online learning. The main concerns are the quality of online education, additional time and effort that the faculty members have to spend, high rates of drop-outs from the courses and potential lack of acceptance of online education by potential employers (Allen & Seaman, 2013).
The first report also touched upon an issue of the changing nature of teaching and how those changes influenced the faculty members. Teachers involved in providing online courses had to adapt their methodology and teaching practices to the new reality. A paper “From face-to-face teaching to online teaching: pedagogical transition” (Redmond, 2011) presents a case study and describes how the pedagogical practice as well as perceptions and perspectives on online education of two teachers have changed over a period of time.
Transition from face-to-face instruction to online one has been met with a high degree of resistance by the faculty members. Their initial perception of the online education was very skeptical one. Apart from that, they were struggling with instructor’s changing role and integration of ICT into teaching. Redefining of a professional identity took much time.
However, eventually they found new pedagogical approaches suitable for online environment, changed ways of interacting with students and learnt how to integrate ICT into their practice (Redmond, 2011).
The conclusion of the paper states that the teachers saw benefits of the online programmes and had accepted the effectiveness of online teaching and learning (Redmond, 2011).
Having read several articles and reports on online education, I came to the conclusion that advantages of online education outnumber the disadvantages. Among the positive aspects of online education I personally underline an opportunity to complete the course in any location at any time, reduction of travel time and cost on accommodation, transportation, etc, an opportunity to have your own pace of learning and access to most recognized world universities. I consider that online education will only increase in popularity and will become a crucial part of educational system generally.
Allen,E. & Seaman, J (2013). Changing course: Ten years of tracking online education in the United States. Retrieved from http://onlinelearningconsortium.org/survey_report/changing-course-ten-years-tracking-online-education-united-states/
Redmond, P. (2011). From face-to-face teaching to online teaching: pedagogical transition. In G.Williams, P.Stathon, N.Brown & B.Cleland (Eds), Changing Demands, Changing Directions. Proceedings ascilite Hobart 2011. Pp.1050-1060 Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/hobart11/downloads/papers/Redmond-full.pdf
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