“But today’s world is belongs to the ‘i Pod, text messaging, Wiki’s, Facebook and Blogs’ generation. These speedy changes have forced everyone, peoples or institutions to make immediate changes. Education institutions are too trying to pull alongside to these changing technological time.”, Prof. Héctor Álvarez-Trujillo, “Benefits and Challenges for the Online Learner”
Having known some information about innovative type of education “online learning”, I came across the article about the beginning of its history in the well-known and reputable newspaper “The Guardian” called “From the archive, 11 September 1964: ‘Open university’ of air and mail” (The Guardian, September 11, 2015).
The article is interesting, because it gives the notion that online education is not so new as we can suppose. Great Britain began its launching in 1964 in one particular college of Cambridge University and it was announced as “An Open University”, earlier the title was “University of the Air”. The aim of that was to meet the demands of the people wanting to get the education, but not having the time (businessmen) or conditions (housewives) and etc. it was mentioned that the courses would be well composed and the college would have to give own certificates about qualifications. The main part of the programs would be delivered to the students by television and radio as well as they would be offered to organize the groups of listeners to have lectures of professional speakers. As everything costs money, the college applied for about £2 millions a year from the government and it was said that any student would pay only 250 000 pounds. It was in 1964.
In the article, published in the Forbes (26 of May, 2015), by Lucie Lapovsky (writing about financial issues in the High Education), there is a short analysis of the contemporary state of the online education. The author provides the readers with results of the surveys about e-learners’ success in academic achievements in comparison with the traditional styles of education. Lucie underlines that according to the research of some famous agencies (such as the Babson Survey Research Group and co-sponsored by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Pearson and Tyton Partners) the popularity of the on-line courses is quickly increasing during the recent years and it gives the opportunity to colleges and universities to introduce own on-line curriculum either to develop the range of them or to get profits without financial risks. It is noticed by the author that this type of learning is very convenient for students, who are eager to get education abroad without leaving own country and the educational establishments which are widening the number of the programmes saving some amounts of money. It is admitted that the face-to face and distance kinds of education are almost the same and soon there will not be any difference for employers what certificate is more worth while selecting specialists.
Both articles are the reflection of the society assumption of online learning at different periods of its implementation.
The serious scientific research by the group of educators from different schools and universities of the USA,The Effects of Distance Education on K-12 Student Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis, makes it possible to have the inside look at the online learning and its effectiveness in comparison with the traditional studying at school. The aim of this work is to investigate some aspects of the distance education and the context impact on it as well. As the result, the educators have come to a conclusion that there is no big difference in students’ outcomes depending on the style of learning. The researchers have analysed everything connected with teaching and learning in the frames of the community of online schools under the name “K-12”, which provides different educational courses and services for almost all types of students’ needs, taking into account the economical, physical, age and other backgrounds. The work states that the distance learning also develops such important skills as critical thinking, problem-solving, self-organization, time management and others. The elearning is described not only as usage of advanced devices on the lessons, but mostly as the systematic subject courses with on-line discussions and practical exams. The authors raise the issue of the faculty qualification for on-line learning as one of the important factors of the students’ successful learning. This research is a good sample of writing a thesis at the same time.
As for my understanding of this case study, I agree with those who emphasize the idea that the traditional and new mode of on-line learning should be provided on the equal base and the learners should choose themselves the appropriate type of studying. To my mind, the main strengths of the elearning are the flexibility of schedule, time and opportunity to follow the course on the own pace in any educational establishment all over the world; the development skills in self-organization, self-responsibility and time-management, which are very helpful during the whole life. If we look at the access to this type of learning we can see that it is very suitable for inclusive education as well, especially when students are not able to attend school classes because of physical disability or preference of home-education.
The weaknesses are in the quality of provided programs and data; the professionalism of teachers or consultants; the technological equipment with different softwares; healthy and psychological problems and etc. Some scientists are worrying about participation of on-line learners in the social communication limited by being alone while elearning, because of lack of discussions and collaborative work. The question which should be answered is: what age is suitable to begin on-line learning?
From the archive, 11 September 1964: ‘Open university’ of air and mail. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/sep/11/open-university-distance-learning-launched-1964
Lapovsky, L. (2015) Online Learning: What Next? Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/lucielapovsky/2015/05/26/online-learning-what-next/2/
Cavanaugh,C.,Jo Gillan, K., Kromrey J., Hess M. and Blomeyer R.,The Effects of Distance Education on K-12 Student Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis. Retrieved from http://faculty.education.ufl.edu/cathycavanaugh/docs/EffectsDLonK-12Students1.pdf
Prof. Álvarez-Trujillo, H., Benefits and Challenges for the Online Learner. Retrieved from http://www.ponce.inter.edu/cai/Comite-investigacion/Estudiantes-Invitados/Benefits_Challenges_Online_Learner.pdf