Online education is a form of education that takes place through the Internet. In online education, students learn when they are in remote areas at their own convenient time, so long as they can access a reliable connection to the Internet. According to Capra (2011), online education requires the application of information technology in learning so that students can acquire quality education from anywhere on this earth and whenever they want. Essentially, online education offers flexible learning schedules for students, who do not have time to attend their classes physically. Unlike traditional education, which requires students to be physically present in a classroom at a specific time, online education is unique because it provides a virtual classroom on the Internet, where learners and teachers interact effectively (Lukman & Krajnc, 2012). Moreover, while traditional education sources its learners from a given locality, online education has no geographical limit in sourcing its learners. Fundamentally, online education is a modern form of education that uses the Internet as a medium of interaction between learners and instructors.
Since online education entails the use of information technology and the Internet, students, who are not suave technologically, experience great challenges, which influence their learning. Hence, instructors must ensure that online learners have some basic knowledge and skills for them to perform well in their respective courses. Moreover, Kim (2011) cites social presence as an issue of online education that affects effective interaction between learners and instructors. Thus, social presence has a significant impact on teaching and learning processes, which ultimately degrade the quality of education. Casey (2008) argues that online education has legitimacy issues because employers and other education systems do not regard online learners as competent as traditional learners. Hence, online education is battling with the issue of legitimacy so that all stakeholders can eventually recognize it like any other form of education that offers quality education and produce competent professionals.
Online learners have diverse needs because they comprise people from diverse racial, geographical, cultural, and social backgrounds. Moreover, online learners have diverse demographic characteristics and thus require different teaching and learning processes to suit their needs. In essence, online education needs to apply numerous strategies to meet the diverse needs of online learners, which are very complex because of technological advancement. For online education to have a significant impact on the learning process among students, instructors must tailor their instructions according to the needs of learners (Borup, West, & Graham, 2012). Since learning institutions are experiencing great competition for learners, they should introduce online education and use different strategies to meet the diverse needs of learners. Therefore, this essay describes three strategies, which are the provision of administrative support, provision of essential resources, and improvement of social presence.
Firstly, the provision of administrative support to online learners is an essential strategy because they experience several issues in the course of their learning, which requires immediate resolution. As online education requires the use of information technology and the Internet, it is prone to technical failures. To fix these technical failures, learning institutions that offer online education need to provide robust administrative support, which can resolve a wide range of technical failures such as inaccessible websites, faulty login details, and communication issues. Moreover, administrative support also provides real-time application and registration of learners and thus saves a great deal of time. Provision of 24-hour support is essential so that learners can have their issues resolved in time without causing considerable inconvenience. According to Singh (2013), lack of administrative support creates chaos in online education because learners and instructors would not interact effectively. Hence, the provision of administrative support is a fundamental strategy of resolving technical issues of learners, as well as performing normal administrative duties.
Secondly, the provision of essential resources for learning is an important strategy of online education. Accessibility of learning materials such as libraries, course materials, and learning schedules determines the effectiveness of online learning. The library is an important resource for online education as it provides diverse sources of scholarly information, which the students require in various fields. Furthermore, learning institutions should provide all course materials so that students can understand the scope of their courses and thus prepare well to learn. According to Singh (2013), online education should provide diverse course materials in terms of videos, audio, and written tutorials and 24-hour tutorial support for the convenience of learners. The diversity of tutorials and other learning materials would allow learners to choose learning materials that meet their needs.
Since social presence is an issue that affects the interaction between learners and instructors in online education, its improvement is imperative. Cercone (2008) recommends instructors apply teaching styles, models, and theories that fit demographic variables of learners such as age and disability. This means that instructors should not apply the same teaching styles in online education because learners have diverse processes of learning. As presence is an integral part of learning, instructors should strive to improve social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence (Borup, West, & Graham, 2012). Improvement of social presence entails enhancement of social interaction during learning as it promotes cohesive, effective, and cohesive responses among learners. Improvement of cognitive presence is the creation of cognitive rapport between learners and instructors so that they can have the same perspective in various discourses, while the improvement of teaching presence involves making teaching processes to be student-centered.
Borup, J., West, E., & Graham, R. (2012). Improving online social presence through asynchronous video. Internet & Higher Education, 15(3), 195-203.
Capra, T. (2011). Online education: Promise and problems. MERLOT Journal of Inline Learning and Teaching, 7(2), 288-293.
Casey, M. (2008). A journey to legitimacy: The historical development of distance education through technology. Tech Trends, 52(2), 45-51.
Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137-159.
Kim, J. (2011). Developing an instrument to measure social presence in distance higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(5), 763-777.
Lukman, R., & Krajnc, M. (2012). Exploring Non-traditional Learning Methods in Virtual and Real-world Environments. Educational Technology & Society, 15(1), 237-247.
Singh, D. (2013). Strategies for meeting the individual needs and learning styles. International Journal of Arts and Commerce, 2(10), 17-30.