Education is considered as the gradual process of acquiring knowledge. Through education, people learn by transferring knowledge, skills, and habits of social units through subsequent generations. Technology has had a great influence on education in terms of quality, accessibility, convenience, and implementation of strategies. Online education is one of the modern elements used in learning all over the world, especially in the United States of America. People are busy with work commitments, and still, want to continue studying. The best approach for people with such tight schedules is registering for online degree programs.
What is online education?
Online education refers to distance learning, which is characterized by the absence of classrooms, the establishment of independent learning schedules, and the integration of technology into the learning process (Werry 7). Online education applies electronic media, as well as information and communication technologies in giving instructions. Online education entails the passage of information through text, audio, live video, images, and computer graphics. Learning takes place through the use of devices such as personal computers, tablets, and mobile phones.
Familiarity with technology and the internet is an essential requirement for the attainment of success in online education (Werry 9). Online education has changed the traditions of education all over the world due to its flexibility. It has numerous aspects that have contributed to its great influence on education. These aspects include economic benefits, administrative tools, communication channels, and various mediums that facilitate learning (Werry 9). The online education curve is rising every year, as more people seek to enjoy the benefits of learning and doing something else on the side.
How much has online education grown?
The growth rate of online education in the United States of America has been on the increase since the turn of the century. Studies show that by the year 2000, at least one million Americans had enrolled in accredited online degree programs from reputable institutions of higher learning. Statistics also show that at least a third of colleges and universities in America offered online courses at the time (Werry 10).
The financial resources invested in promoting and supporting online education in America have been on the rise since people started taking up these classes. According to a report released by the Education Quarterly Investment in 2000, the amount of money invested in online education stood at $11 million during the early 1990s. This amount increased to approximately a billion dollars by early 2000 (Werry 11). The main factor that has boosted the speedy growth of online education is its economic value. Economists, education administrators, and Wall Street analysts argue that the digitization of education in America has a similar economic impact as the ratio changes that happened in the country’s health care system.
Online education has economic benefits because of little or no use of writing materials. Also, it saves a lot of time and requires little human resources from institutions that offer degree programs (Werry 11). Major leading universities and colleges in America such as the University of British Columbia and the New Jersey Institute of Technology were among the first to create and introduce online education centers. They did this to meet the growing demand for online education, and ensure that they remain competitive in attracting high-performing students. They have created a virtual learning environment characterized by digital partnership and technology enhanced learning (Werry 13).
What are the tools for online education?
Online education entails a learning program that distances a learner from a classroom. It allows a student to access course material from any location and communicate with an instructor at their convenient time (Kim 275). Distance learning is growing in popularity among people in the United States. This has led to the development of several tools that aim to provide aid to students taking online courses. The tools apply in two main forms of online education, namely asynchronous and synchronous education (Kim 276). The difference between the two is that in asynchronous online education, there is no need for interaction between a student and the instructor. On the other hand, synchronous involves interaction between the two parties, especially when they are geographically apart (Kim 276).
Students and instructors depend on certain software called the course management system that allows them to use various online education tools. Instructors use this software to develop online curriculums and interact with students. The common features of this software are flexibility, user-friendly interface, competitive market price, and reliability in providing students with a good learning experience (Kim 277).
The software is also an online educational tool, which allows students to register for courses, access course materials, submit their term papers, use grading tools, and access other services linked to their respective courses. Through this software, students and instructors can use online tools such as the blackboard, Google Plus hangouts, You Tube, and Intra Learn, among others. Blackboard is an online educational tool that works and serves the same purpose as the tool with a similar name in traditional systems of education (Kim 278).
The blackboard allows students and instructors to communicate easily through a platform that facilitates the provision of all necessary information in a single place. This tool has helped administrators to increase the efficiency of their services and student experiences (Kim 278). Another online tool used by students and instructors is e-college, which helps users to access background information about a certain organization with an online site. The tool is very flexible and user-friendly because it allows the user to customize the settings and display according to personal preference (Kim 279). Students and teachers also use it for communication, socialization, evaluation, as well as for accessing course instructions.
Intra Learn is another online tool that allows its users to generate, control, and deliver good results. This tool helps instructors to manage course materials effectively because they can limit how much information a student can access at any given time, depending on the course level (Kim 280). Communication between students and their instructors is very effective through the use of this tool, as it allows for threaded emails, sharing of files, chats, development of links, as well as the use of whiteboards. YouTube is also another online tool that teachers and students use in learning. This tool gives the user access to a variety of videos that have learning materials and instructions (Kim 280). An instructor can create tutorial videos and post them online for students to access and use in their learning.
What are the pros and cons of online education?
Online education has its advantages and disadvantages, just like the traditional class system of education. Advantages of online education include flexibility, accessibility, and interpersonal communication and interaction among online students (Werry 8). Other advantages are that it is cost-effective, has reliable organization of learning materials, facilitation of the acquisition of technological skills, open access to education by everyone, and the use of effective communication strategies (Werry 8).
Online students have the freedom of learning from anywhere as long as they have a reliable internet connection. This means that someone eliminates the monotony of having a single location to attend his or her classes. Online students have a wide range of personalities that include business people, politicians, military officers, professional sports men, and women, as well as media personalities (Kim 277). This creates depth and improves the credibility of the programs.
Through proper management of time and other essential resources, people can effectively exploit the opportunities presented by online education. Two major disadvantages of online education include the validity of certificates acquired from online program and the limited nature of courses offered online (Kim 278). It can be difficult to prove the validity of a certificate acquired online to prospective employers. Some employers tend to doubt the validity of online degrees and as such request for evidence such as copies of the syllabus and assignments done. Courses such as applied sciences and engineering that require practical learning are inapplicable through online learning (Werry 12). Other disadvantages include lack of social interaction between students and instructors, as well as the ease of cheating and unfairness towards students with poor skills technology skills.
Education enables people to learn by transferring the knowledge, skills, and culture of society through subsequent generations. Education has a lot of influence on human beings in terms of character development, thinking styles, emotional development, and relationships. The motivating fixation about online education is that it applies both inside and outside a classroom. Although class education and online education share a similar orientation of giving instructions to students, they differ in many ways. Online education has changed the tradition of learning all over the world. It promises to have a greater influence in the future, as more people are choosing it over the traditional classroom system.
Kim, Younhee. “Online Education Tools.” Public Performance & Management Review, 28.2 (2004): 275-280. Print.
Werry, Chris. “The Rhetoric of Commercial Online Education.” The Radical Teacher, 63 (2002): 7-13. Print.