Distance Learning for Equal Education

This is an academic article by one of the most influential sociologists and intellectuals of the twentieth century, Pierre Bourdieu. It is reliable because it was published in an edited, peer-reviewed anthology of academic articles concerning the sociology of economics. According to Bourdieu, the conception of capital is not restricted to the economic exchange of material goods; it can also be symbolic and cultural. The term cultural capital encapsulates the intangible qualities such as family background, skills, and highbrow hobbies that confer legitimacy and can then be converted into economic or social capital. Bourdieu distinguishes three fundamental forms of cultural capital: embodied, objectified, and institutionalized. Academic qualifications and credentials are considered institutionalized cultural capital that creates a “certificate of cultural competence which confers on its holder a conventional, constant, legally guaranteed value concerning power” (Bourdieu 83). While in this text Bourdieu emphasizes the role of the nuclear family, he nonetheless recognizes that secondary and tertiary education are vital channels of reproducing cultural capital. While Bourdieu’s work is quite opaque for a general reader, his works are considered classics in their field. Put simply, enjoying high-brow hobbies such as wine-tasting and having a degree from a prestigious university lead to a higher social status in society, which can then be converted into a higher-paying job. The article is relevant due to the specific conclusions drawn regarding the role of education in reproducing social stratification.

This is an academic book by the same distinguished sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, about how social stratification is reproduced and consecrated through educational institutions. It is a viable source because it was published by a respected university press. While Bourdieu focuses on the French higher education system, his ideas are easily translatable to other elite institutions such as the Ivy League in the United States or Oxbridge in Great Britain. Bourdieu argues that in late capitalist societies, schools sanctify social divisions by presenting inequality as the result of individual talent, effort, and desire. However, educational achievement is the result of socioeconomic privilege, not inherent ability. Technocrats today have unprecedented powers and privileges, yet they legitimize their positions through the mythos of meritocracy rather than account for imbalances in economic and political power. Attaining a degree from an elite institution is transformed into an elaborate ritual to celebrate an individual’s elevation to an eminent social position because they have successfully accumulated enough cultural and educational capital. Bourdieu uses ethnographic descriptions, historical documentation, and statistical analysis to illustrate his arguments. It is an extremely important book because it shows how elite universities enforce social stratification, and why it is important to use them as a leveling mechanism to promote equal opportunity instead.

This is a scholarly, peer-reviewed article by an associate professor in the Department of Management Information Systems about the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic on academic performance in Egypt. Firstly, the author conducted a literature review regarding online distance versus face-to-face learning and found no significant differences in learning satisfaction and academic performance in earlier pre-pandemic comparative studies. Then, they compared the final course grades and student satisfaction amongst 376 students, half of whom took a business course face-to-face and those who took the same course online a semester later during the lockdown. There was no significant difference, despite a shortage of infrastructure and lack of practice in online education due to the abrupt switch to online education. However, students with higher GPAs performed better in online courses and students with lower GPAs performed worse, probably due to the lack of on-campus support and instructor interactivity. This is a relevant article because it shows that online education is not generally inferior to face-to-face learning. The author suggests that adding an e-mentoring feature and robust communication strategies to online university portals is essential for helping struggling students. Furthermore, integrating online distant learning into future higher education plans would cut costs, reduce student density, and promote the transformation of students into lifelong learners.

This article examines the distance learning ecosystem before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a credible source because it was published in a peer-reviewed, prestigious academic journal. The authors argue that the COVID-initiated switch to distance learning by elite institutions should have occurred years previously. Even before the pandemic, there were serious concerns about the price and value proposition of traditional on-campus, degree-focused tertiary education compared to digital delivery. For the past decade, distance learning has become a multibillion-dollar market by offering open online courses, industry-based certification programs, and coding boot camps that are more cost-efficient and suited to labor market demands. Instead of three or four-year bachelor degrees, more flexible, lower-priced, digital “credentialed packages” are valued by employers in an economy that demands continuous upskilling to keep pace with technological advances. Furthermore, the authors discuss the possibilities of utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize student services and support. They conclude that colleges and policymakers must prioritize digital strategy before they are left behind by the technology-driven consolidation of market share and power. This is a very important article because it provides a succinct analysis of the advantages of distance learning programs compared to traditional on-campus models.

This is an academic article published in a peer-reviewed journal about whether school closures and digital learning exacerbate academic disparities based on social class and accompanying digital, cultural, and structural divides. The authors conclude that online learning reproduces social inequality by making learning dependent on families and digital resources. Firstly, social class is associated with unequal access to and proficiency with digital tools. Secondly, upper/middle-class families are better prepared than working-class families at ensuring educational continuity for their children because they are more familiar with the knowledge and skills that are expected and valued. Thirdly, recent data shows that more material and human resources have been invested by schools in upper/middle-class students. This phenomenon is probably due to bigger budgets and higher expectations in terms of achievement in privileged neighborhoods. Furthermore, the authors mention that in addition to social class disparities, there has been less support for ethnic minorities and poorer countries. They recommend making teachers aware of exacerbated inequality, initiating homework help groups for students whose parents are unable to assist or monitor, and providing working-class families with digital training and pedagogical support. It is also necessary to conduct longitudinal research to compare student achievement before and after school closures. This is an important article because it explores the relationship between equal educational opportunity and online learning. However, it is mainly focused on secondary rather than tertiary education.

This peer-reviewed, academic article was written by a professor of instructional design and technology at Virginia Tech. The author examines the potential lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education delivery systems. Firstly, hybrid or blended teaching will probably become the norm for learners of all ages. Secondly, lesson designs will become more variable and creative, since instructors are now reconsidering which strategies and psychological principles best facilitate learning. The author highlights that lengthy Zoom sessions that simulate traditional face-to-face lectures are rarely beneficial. Thirdly, traditional assessment strategies are being replaced with interactive discussions, student-led teaching, and games to increase motivation and engagement. There will likely be more flexible deadlines for assignment submission and more authentic experiences of applying course content to practical problem-solving. While Internet access is an issue for many, some innovative solutions have emerged, such as school buses acting as mobile hotspots. The author concludes that the flexibility and possibilities provided by online learning will permanently shift the expectations of students and educators, and the learning ecosystem will include blended learning. This is a relevant article because it shrewdly predicts the potential benefits of post-COVID-19 distance learning.

This is a peer-reviewed systematic review of the current academic literature about online learning on Science Direct, ACM, and SCOPUS. Thirty-eight articles published between 2016 and 2021 were analyzed by professors at the computer- and technology-related faculties in Indonesian universities. The most popular platforms for online learning were “massively open online courses” (MOOCs), mobile learning systems, and Microsoft Teams. In the implementation of e-learning, eleven main problems were identified, including lack of balance, lack of rational introspection, the weakened value of the educational subject, social isolation, negative performance, and lack of experience. The most important metrics of evaluation were service quality, learning attitude, process, effect, and engagement. The authors claim that these metrics can be used to develop a new coherent framework or model to evaluate the implementation of distance learning. This is a relevant article because it provides a brief overview of the current state of academics.

This is a peer-reviewed, academic article by a professor of education at Tribhuvan University in Nepal. Firstly, the author lists the theoretical benefits of online education, such as cost efficiency and accessibility to instruction “at any time anywhere” (Paudel 71). An online survey questionnaire was sent to 280 teachers and students to garner their opinion on the benefits and challenges of online higher education. It included structured and unstructured questions prepared in Google form and sent via Facebook messenger. The descriptive analysis found that the majority of participants believe that online learning increases independence and self-discipline, provides flexibility, and connects learners to the global community. However, it also presents extreme challenges in the form of time management, learner autonomy, internet access, limited feedback, social isolation, and cases of plagiarism. One hundred percent of the participants responded that they would take more online courses in the future, either to gain up-to-date information or because they are more flexible in terms of time and place. The author concludes that blended learning can play a vital role in higher education if its implementation is suited to the learners’ needs, levels, and interests. While the data in this article is not generalizable since it is limited to Nepalese higher education, it still provides an interesting insight into how students and teachers perceive the challenges of online education.

This is an article discussing the threat of growing formalization in online education, which may have negative effects on students’ learning, health, cognition, and behavior. It is a trustworthy source because it was published in an academic, peer-reviewed journal by an expert in online education. The author defines formalism as an excessive adherence to prescribed forms, a phenomenon that is found in every educational institution because of management optimization and bureaucratic control. The tools of formalism include standardized testing, curricula, syllabuses, and preset learning outcomes and expectations. Online course content is based on structured, pre-programmed learning materials presented in an organized, simplified form. While independent and highly motivated learners thrive in this environment, the high attrition rate of online institutions (40-80%) indicates that many are not prepared for this format. Furthermore, many students demonstrate a lenient attitude and do the bare minimum, such as reading abridged Wikipedia articles instead of the assigned texts. The author claims that formalization leads to overregulation, limited choices, lack of flexibility, and monotony. In turn, this leads to disconnect from real life, inadequate learning outcomes, social deprivation, conditioning of students, and health, cognition, and identity hazards (Serdyukov 124). A possible solution is to use a blended approach and offers live, face-to-face session whenever possible. Furthermore, real-life, meaningful experiences should be embedded into online learning, such as authentic case studies. The author concludes that true humanitarian education should not be substituted by a formalistic, mechanistic, profit-making, convenience digital model. It is a very important article because it analyzes the danger of online learning and the possible steps that should be taken to avoid it.

This is an academic, peer-reviewed article about the effects of the flipped classroom model, using Khan Academy and free open-source software, on students’ academic achievement in mathematics. The flipped classroom model reverses traditional education by having teachers deliver the course content as homework, and using class time for active learning through collaboration and interaction. Khan Academy is a free, personalized learning platform that provides instructional videos and activities on a variety of topics and levels. Twenty-eight students studying mathematics in a Turkish university were tested before and after the implementation of the flipped classroom, and qualitative data was used to explain their views on the approach. The student’s scores and the mean ranks in the class were significantly higher after the implementation. The majority stated that the Khan Academy approach was advantageous because it enhanced understanding, increased visualization, and promoted retention. Half of the students stated that they understood mathematical concepts much more easily with this approach. However, there were some issues regarding the lack of instruction on how to use computers and difficulties generating graphics with software. The author concludes that the flipped classroom approach should be utilized more often to enrich instruction, with the help of software such as Khan Academy, GeoGebra, and Maxima. This is an important article because it offers a blended learning model that takes advantage of innovative, free software such as Khan Academy.

Works Cited

Bourdieu, Pierre. “The Forms of Capital.” The Sociology of Economic Life (3rd ed.), edited by Mark Granovetter and Richard Swedberg. Routledge, 2018, pp. 78-92.

Bourdieu, Pierre. The State Nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power. Translated by Lauretta C. Clough, Stanford University Press, 1996.

El Said, Ghada Refaat. “How Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect Higher Education Learning Experience? An Empirical Investigation of Learners’ Academic Performance at a University in a Developing Country.” Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 2021, 2021, pp. 1-10.

Gallagher, Sean, and Palmer, Jason. “The Pandemic Pushed Universities Online. The Change Was Long Overdue,” HBS 29 (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2021).

Goudeau, Sébastien, Sanrey, Camille, Stanczak, Arnaud, Manstead, Antony, and Darnon, Céline. “Why Lockdown and Distance Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic Are Likely to Increase the Social Class Achievement Gap.” Nature Human Behaviour, vol. 5, 2021, pp. 1273-1281.

Lockee, Barbara B. “Online Education in the Post-COVID Era.” Nature Electronics, vol. 4, 2021, pp. 5-6.

Mastan, Ignatius A., Sensuse, Dana I., Suryono, Ryan R., and Kautsarina. “Evaluation of Distance Learning System (E-learning): A Systematic Literature Review.” Journal TEKNOINFO, vol. 16, no. 1, 2022, pp. 132-137.

Paudel, Pitambar. “Online Education: Benefits, Challenges and Strategies During and After COVID-19 in Higher Education.” International Journal on Studies in Education, vol. 3, no. 2, 2021, pp. 70-85.

Serdyukov, Peter. “Formalism in Online Education.” Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning, vol. 14, no. 2, 2021, pp. 118-132.

Zengin, Yılmaz. “Investigating the Use of the Khan Academy and Mathematics Software with a Flipped Classroom Approach in Mathematics Teaching.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 20, no. 2, 2017, pp. 89-100.

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ChalkyPapers. "Distance Learning for Equal Education." April 10, 2023. https://chalkypapers.com/distance-learning-for-equal-education/.