Online Education has slowly planted its foundation in the ever-growing industry of the digitalized world. Nobody predicted of the key part the Internet would play in the development of this type of educational program that combined the traditional provision of information through teaching and the modern way of spreading it through online communication. Due to the rapid growth of technology, a new path has opened for teaching. The growing thirst for knowledge continues and the increasing challenges we face to attain it grow higher. Many have turned to considering online education for additional courses, degrees, and even for their personal skill growth and development. This growth revolutionized education and has slowly become a key part in complementing its ability to transcend boundaries.
Before delving into the main concepts of online education, we look at its history and how it all began. The idea of education away from home began as a problem where children from remote locations are unable to access leaning opportunities due to their distance. This gave birth to ‘distance education’, a system from Sir Isaac Pitman wherein teachers mail their students postcards and were replied the same way by students for answers. This was largely successful and proved to be a stepping stone in establishing the foundations for home education. It was in the early years of 1960 when computers began stepping in the scene. The University of Illinois initiated a classroom system wherein computer terminals were stationed for students to access digital content on international sources while they listen to recorded audio lessons for their particular courses.
During the same time, Stanford University experimented on computers as educational materials to teach elementary students using teletypes, another form of distance education that helped them teach students from different places. During the decades of 1970 to 1980, the idea of computer education grew rapidly with several colleges and universities experimenting with the concept and adapting several methods of unique educational systems through media. The use of internet as a source and provider of information rapidly grew during the 1980s, wherein early models of e-learning systems were being tested as a medium for sharing knowledge. Videoconferencing was an innovation that sparked the existence of online education systems. The idea was a success that it still exists up until today. Although there are apparent setbacks such as quality of sound and image, the idea was successfully implemented and paved the way for greater educational systems. During the 1990s, the dawn of the World Wide Web made it possible for teachers to create course websites providing instructions to students for their lessons. Along this decade and the new millennia, the internet became an arena for online education and has since then been growing up to its current state now. What started out as an idea for teaching students from far places became a reality as students worldwide now have access to education from websites, such as this, in order to achieve greater heights in providing quality education though digitalized and modern online solutions for the future of learning.
There are two distinct styles of online education systems with regards to distance education: synchronous and asynchronous learning. In synchronous learning, it requires the participants and the facilitator to be present at the same time. It requires proper scheduling and a good internet connection for a smooth flow of the planned program. There are multiple similarities to this type of online setting to the traditional method of teaching such as the way it mimics student-teacher interaction in real time and the presence of all included. The main difference for this is that synchronous online education may be conducted by students from different locations, connected through the internet, as opposed to being present physically in the normal educational setting. Video conferencing, web conferencing, live streaming, and web-based VoIP are various examples of synchronous learning. The advantage of this type of online education is the opportunity to directly ask questions, raise concerns, and find immediate responses that are only possible through live interaction. On the other hand, there is asynchronous learning, the more flexible counterpart of online education. Through this type of learning, students are free to access online content whenever they are available. There are still followed schedules per curriculum, but the time table is wider and accommodate to the available time of each student. Whenever content is published by the facilitator, participants may view it on any convenient time within the time frame and are then allowed access to any of the following media: audio-visual recordings, message board forums, blog posts, voicemail, and email.
There are a lot of advantages to online education. However, there are also disadvantages of this as well. In order to fully understand this innovation, both aspects must be understood to equip you with the necessary information that would prepare you for the challenges and preparations needed for the unique opportunities offered.
1. Convenience – There are a lot of time, money, and effort saved by the convenience of having your own pace to learning. With online courses, you set your own time and place along with the level of involvement you want to have in the program. This lets anyone enjoy as you may choose to be active or not in the discussions online.
2. Cost-friendly – There are a lot of online courses provided that are free, although there are some that you have to pay for. However, it is relatively low-cost compared to traditional education and the additional costs of lodging and transportation.
3. Technological options – As the advance of the digital age continues, there are a lot of opportunities popping up at every corner. Online courses provide an avenue where participants have the chance of improving their knowledge on various softwares available besides the wisdom gained from the chosen course.
4. Access to online content – One of the best benefits of online courses is the content provided first-hand by the facilitators. Researches, studies, and several contents are made available throughout the duration of these online education degrees and will be available 24/7 by the click of a button and a steady internet connection.
1. Technological limits – Although the progress of the Internet has grown rapidly, some software developments are yet to be made in order to perfect online educational systems. There are still limitations in content sharing that are yet to be made to better provide online students with the proposed curriculum. Internet connection is also a limitation that may pose a problem if it is disturbed for long periods of time.
2. Social interaction – Aside from the technological limitations, social interaction is also compromised by online education. Compared to the traditional setting, there is a lack in the presence of other people. Though this was the case in the beginning, there are currently solutions being integrated to counter the lack of interaction such as the introduction of blogs, forums, and message boards that aim to answer this lack in social activity online.
3. Efficiency of assessment – Since participants’ study from places away from each other, there is minimal chance that they would meet, except if there are scheduled meetings. This lack in physical interaction makes it hard to entirely assess a student’s performance whether they have really been studying and following the course outline or not. There is also difficulty in properly and accurately assessing a student’s growth as it is usually based on classes from the traditional set up of schooling.
4. Limited fields of interest – Online education has certainly grown astronomically over the past decade. Unfortunately, there are still a lot to work on even if people predict this system as the future of education. The current progression and shift from traditional to digital is still ongoing. This means that not all programs and curriculum is presented to interested applicants looking for a specific subject. Sometimes there are, sometimes there aren’t, depending on the availability of professors or facilitators.
5. You need immense focus and dedication – Although this might sound off, some people tend to get pressured with online courses especially since it follows a time table and that people may have a hard time bargaining for more since the professor isn’t around. Also, you will have to finish exercises and activities alone without the immediate guide from peers. As there are some courses offering the same set as traditional systems, the pressure lies on the dedication of the student, self-discipline, and focus to accomplish any given task.
Online Education has become a key part in the growth and spread of education all over the world. As time goes by, its evolution has surpassed expectations that flourished during the previous decades. It still continues on growing and has yet to be called complete, but many expect that it will potentially become fully-functional and more competitive than the traditional methods of learning we have today. From elementary to masters in education online, this system has grown exponentially and has established its mark on the digital age. Education is something that should not be limited simply because one has no way to attain it. Education should be as depthless and as reachable as possible in order for everyone to fully enjoy the benefits of learning and its contribution to society as a whole. It started out as an ambitious program meant to help the underprivileged. But through the course of time, people have seen its potential in reaching out to everybody in the world. With the digital age by our side, education is becoming more accessible with each passing day and with every inch of advancement in technology. Now, it’s just more than a few clicks away to starting a new chapter of educational prowess.