Currently it is impossible to imagine any human beings sphere of activities without technologies. Such evolution of ICT led to the development of Web 2.0 usage in education. One of the mainly discussing issues around the implementation of ICT in teaching and learning is a growth of online learning environments. Articles written by Reese (2014) and O’Shea et al. (2015) anaysed effectiveness and challenges of implementing virtual learning environments in education. According to the authors, there are supporters and critics of this model of teaching and learning.
Online learning environments promote collaboration..
Virtual educational environments provide all learners regardless of their any background (age, ethnicity, social status, prior knowledge level, etc.) equal access to knowledge (O’Shea et al., 2015, p.42). Diversity of contingent improves the cultural and social communication of participants in the virtual classroom. For instance, most of the on-campus undergraduates in HEIs in Kazakhstan are the learners of the same age, whereas students studying virtually might be of various ages. As O’Shea et al. (2015) describes, the age of the youngest student in the online classroom who took part in the survey was 22, when the oldest undergraduates’ age was 68 (p.45).
Online learning environments lead to dissociation ..
On the other hand, critics of online learning environments argues about the connectivistic way of this type of studying. O’Shea et al. (2015, p.43) discusses the idea of researchers about the impact of engagement level of students to their performance. The authors also state the importance of development of students social, personal, intellectual and academic engagement with instructors, teachers and their peers rather than isolation(p.48). Reese (2014, p.583), when examining the papers of Saugstad, wrote that online learning without face-to-face interaction does not develop learners’ learning and professional skills necessary for their future career.
Both of the authors recommend the ways of improving effectiveness of online collaboration, teaching and learning through usage of appropriate tools and methods of teaching, support and involvement of virtual classmates (O’Shea et al, 2015, p.43; Reese, 2014, p.580).
O’Shea, S., Stone, C., & Delahunty, J. (2015). “I ‘feel’like I am at university even though I am online.” Exploring how students narrate their engagement with higher education institutions in an online learning environment. Distance Education, 36(1), 41-58, DOI: 10.1080/01587919.2015.1019970
Reese, S. A. (2014). Online learning environments in higher education: Connectivism vs. dissociation. Education and Information Technologies, 20(3), 579-588.