The Internet invention has revolutionized virtually every aspect of peoples lives in the 21st century but even more importantly, it has given adults going on with hustles and bustles of life, a second chance of earning a degree while at it. In the age of information where economies are relying more on the information technology than the traditional industry that heavily depended on industrialization, the Internet has become a very critical tool for human survival. Needless to say, it has penetrated into the traditional physical brick and mortar classroom that for centuries monopolized the centres of learning. Although the adoption of the internet, through online learning avenues, has been met with criticism, such as the one by Brown and Liedholm (2002) whose work shows that there is less time devotion compared to the traditional class setting and which can eventually affect negatively the students performance, this essay will delve deeper into literature to show that online education can effectively come to rescue especially to adults who want to further their studies without breaking their daily responsibilities of parenthood.
In the current economy, very few people can survive on just one job .in fact according to Bureau of Labor Statistics the number of American citizens juggling multiple jobs has increased from 7.3 to 7.8 million in 2016 with a projection of even an upward trajectory in the coming years (Davidson, 2018). This is an art shell means people are becoming even busier than ever, consequently reducing the number of people going back to the classroom to further their studies. Furthermore, for parents with young children requiring child care, enrolling for such professional services has become very expensive most parents opting to take the task for themselves while going about their daily activities. For these reasons and many more, most adults have been unable to go back to campus classrooms to earn the uncompleted degrees. The age of Internet and online education has however allowed many adults to enrol for a degree program, which they can complete without stepping into a physical classroom. The next section of the essay will show, contrary to opponents, how effective this mode of learning is.
The influence of the learning environment on learning outcomes in an education system has been a subject of exploration by various scholars of education. According to Ramsden and Entwistle (1981), the relationship between these variables is the key determiner of the effectiveness. Hackbarth (1996) notes that for online learning, the web-based environment is more effective in eliminating the learning barriers by increasing convenience, the currency of material, flexibility, customized learning as well as feedback compared to the traditional physical classroom setting. While the student and student, and student and teacher interactions without a doubt are a critical component of learning and a subject of debate whether the virtual environment in online education is effective enough, efforts to provide a substitute has been unwavering. The online courses have developed interactive dashboards with synchronous chats, discussion boards and emails among other elements to accommodate the class interaction aspect.
But even a bigger win for the online environment, the study by Smith and Hardaker (2000) shows that an interaction within web-based infrastructure is able to promote student-centred learning, stimulate a wider student participation which builds even more reasoned discussions compared to the traditional classroom setting. Furthermore, the intimidation and time pressures in the traditional classroom to some students are greatly reduced in an online environment. Additionally, research by Kassop (2003) shows that the relative anonymity created in an online platform greatly boosts an illusion of a level playing field. This improving encourages the reticent students to participate more and gain more from learning modules.
Another exclusive aspect of the online education is the accessibility and time convenience. With the distance learning, a disabled student with mobility challenges does not miss on the education as long as he or she has access to the necessary technological infrastructure. This aspect not only eliminates discrimination of physically handicapped students but also, it provides a cheaper means of accessing the learning opportunities just like any other physically sound individual taking that class.
Since time immemorial, people living in the rural areas have been disadvantaged regard the accessibility to good schools and training centres located in the urban centres mostly due to unaffordability for tuition and upkeep, especially for postsecondary education. This is where online education has proved to be an essential integration into the education system to ensure that people from these conditions are not locked out of the formal education by providing more modest priced web-based courses. Furthermore, distance learning has not only come to the rescue of the people in the rural areas. In the urban areas, going back to school is a very appealing action but the cost of living cannot afford them to quit their current jobs in pursuit of higher education. The most convenient option is to take an online program that can allow them to further their studies at their own schedule.
Additionally, the fact that over 61% of the executives and business owners are acquainted with online programs with 83 percent of the CEOs affirming through the same study that the online degree was as reliable as one earned through the traditional campus-set program, it is clear that the owners have faith with it hence making it even more effective ("Employers on online education - CNN.com", 2018).
Looking at it from an economic perspective, the cost of education through web-based online platforms is more economical compared to the traditional. According to Bishop (2018), when the cost of working with project staff, course planning, online course delivery preparation, actual delivery, interaction with the students, students performance evaluation as well as the training and supervision for both online and traditional programs, there as a difference. From the study findings, the most pronounced difference was the time spent by the instructor to facilitate the course where approximately 112 hours were taken up delivering it through traditional classroom approach. The time consumed to deliver the same on the online platform was found to be 107 hours, which translated to an overall cost of $99 and $105 for online and traditional courses respectively (Bishop, 2018).
Considering that the cost of initial starts up for the online course delivery regardless of the student's enrollment numbers, the same study concludes that rate of cost increment is much lower in the online delivery equated to the traditional delivery costs.
Enrollment statistics of the online programs are very encouraging and have been on the upward trajectory with the Internet infrastructure accessibility. According to Alsaaty et al. (2016), a report done in 2011 shows that at the time of the survey, over 6.1 million in the United States were taking at one online course, 31 percent of which were from the higher learning education. In another more recent study done in 2013, the previous statistics were found to have increased by about 570000 students, each taking at least one online course (Allen and Seamans, 2013). This report shows that the annual increase of the number of online education enrollment has gone up to 9.3 percent with no signs of a downward trend. These statistics do not only show an increased confidence with the online avenues of learning but also, it shows that this mode is more convenient compared to the traditional classroom setting regarding flexibility and cost of the programs.
The statistics and the research findings on the efficacy of the online education are positive as shown in the comprehensive analysis given above. The only major hurdle regarding this learning environment is the prejudice concerning the legitimacy of the courses offered. The research around this area has unearthed some of the shortcomings and this knowledge is going to be instrumental in coming up with the tools to overcome these challenges. It is no doubt that the popularity of the online education is a work in progress and the efforts to make it even more effective as it maintains its benefits over the traditional education are clearly shown with ever-increasing enrollment numbers. With devotion and more effort from various stakeholders such as technology firms, employers, researchers and even the government, online education will gain maximum confidence and serve as good, if not better, the traditional classroom.
Alsaaty, F. M., Carter, E., Abrahams, D., & Alshameri, F. (2016). Traditional Versus Online Learning in Institutions of Higher Education: Minority Business Students Perceptions. Business and Management Research, 5(2), 31.
Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2013). Changing course: Ten years of tracking online education in the United States. Sloan Consortium. PO Box 1238, Newburyport, MA 01950.
Brown, B. W., & Liedholm, C. E. (2002). Can web courses replace the classroom in principles of microeconomics?. American Economic Review, 92(2), 444-448.
Davidson .P. (2018).The job juggle is real. Many Americans are balancing two, even three gigs. (2018). USA TODAY. Retrieved 11 February 2018, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/10/17/job-juggle-real-many-americans-balancing-two-even-three-gigs/92072068/
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Kassop, M. (2003). Ten ways online education matches, or surpasses, face-to-face learning. The Technology Source, 3.
Smith, D., & Hardaker, G. (2000). E-learning innovation through the implementation of an internet supported the learning environment. Educational Technology & Society, 3(3), 422-432.
Bishop , T.(2018).Comparing the cost-effectiveness of online versus traditional classroom cost per student pass rates | Online Learning Consortium, Inc. (2018). Secure.onlinelearningconsortium.org. Retrieved 10 February 2018, from https://secure.onlinelearningconsortium.org/effective_practices/comparing-cost-effectiveness-online-versus-traditional-classroom-cost-student-pa
Hackbarth, S. (1996). The educational technology handbook: a comprehensive guide: process and products for learning. Educational Technology.
Ramsden, P., & Entwistle, N. J. (1981). EFFECTS OF ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS ON STUDENTS'APPROACHES TO STUDYING. British journal of educational psychology, 51(3), 368-383.
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