By reason of the rapid development of cutting-edge educational technologies and its penetration into higher education, the characteristics of learning environment have been going through notable changes such as traditional relationships between educators and learners are shifting “from teacher-centered approaches towards a personalized, small-group orientated, multi-dimensional model of teaching” (Sun, 2011, p. 428), and to “pedagogies that are more personal, social and participatory” (McLoughlin & Lee, 2010, p. 28) which is leading to the emergence of online instruction as a new and additional supplementary mode to traditional learning and teaching.
Therefore a great deal numbers of scholars and researchers have been drawing growing interest and curiosity towards the current technology-supported learning and teaching environment over the past decades and as an online distant Master student I endeavored to find studies that explore the effect of online learning on either undergraduate or graduate students.
As the most interesting and appealing article that stands out for me from the rest of the articles is the one written by Browne (2003) “Conversations in Cyberspace: a study of online learning” since it addresses the relationship and communication between teachers and students on a Masters Degree in Education delivered online in one of the universities of UK. The course employs three modes of ICT: a shared database, a communication conference system and a programming language platform, that is, interacting with the aid of conferencing and e-mail system. The research has been focused on the findings of one particular methodological method called “cyber-ethnography”. This new evolving research design requires one to be engaged with virtual reality and discern various interactive websites and virtual communities. Regarding the results of the research since it is a much wider research project conducted for Doctorate Education, the article results has provided us with only concise evidence based on one research method. According to the results, advantages are related to the given adequate time for reflection and thoughtful response for students. In the same vein, further focal points are shown in the possibility of learners to interact, learn and share experiences with each other across the universe on diverse issues. Referring to the drawbacks, they are connected with the technology related issues such as access, equity and support (Browne, 2003).
Another empirical study undertaken by Sun (2011) researches the impact of online and traditional course delivery methods on learner`s academic achievement. The study tests the hypothesis whether non-traditional course learners can better apply the theory they obtain to practice. As a sample for research, students who major in Marketing take part in various course delivery methods in order to test this proposition. The findings indicate that online students outperform traditional students in applying the theoretical knowledge they gain to real life conditions, particularly the quality of start-up business marketing plans developed by online learning students are superior than that of face-to-face learning students. In other words, it could probably mean the higher position of online learning over traditional environment along with being able to equip online learners with life-coping skills and the ability to work collaboratively or individually, which are exclusively valued in the current world.
In conclusion, one can claim that the advantages of online education mode in higher education outweigh the disadvantages. From the aforementioned articles, it is crystal clear that traditional mode of learning is not likely benefit individuals in their further occupation in view of the fact that students need to be provided with skills and abilities that put more importance on real life learning and evaluation and the last but not the least thing to note is the ability to apply the theory we gain to everyday life.
Browne, E. (2003). Conversations in Cyberspace: a study of online learning. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 18(3), 245-259.
Hansen, E. D. (2008). Knowledge Transfer in Online Learning Environments. Journal of Marketing Education, 30(2), 93-105.
McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. W. (2010). Personalized and self-regulated learning in the Web 2.0 era: International exemplars of innovative pedagogy using social software. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1), 28–43.
Sun, Y. H. S. (2011). Online language teaching: The pedagogical challenges. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal, 3(3), 428–447.