Posted by & filed under online education, System development.

Description: Online education is best known for serving older, nontraditional students who can not travel to colleges because of jobs and family. But the same technologies of “distance learning” are now finding their way onto brick-and-mortar campuses, especially public institutions hit hard by declining state funds.


Date: Nov 4, 2010

Across the country, online education is exploding: 4.6 million students took a college-level online course during fall 2008, up 17 percent from a year earlier, according to the Sloan Survey of Online Learning. A large majority — about three million — were simultaneously enrolled in face-to-face courses, belying the popular notion that most online students live far from campuses, said Jeff Seaman, co-director of the survey. Many are in community colleges, he said. Very few attend private colleges; families paying $53,000 a year demand low student-faculty ratios.  Colleges and universities that have plunged into the online field, mostly public, cite their dual missions to serve as many students as possible while remaining affordable, as well as a desire to exploit the latest technologies. Click here for rest of story

Questions for discussion:

  • Can online education be as effective as face to face mode of university education?
  • What are the strengths of online education?
  • What are the weaknesses and threats of online education?

19 Responses to “Learning in Dorm, Because Class Is on the Web”

  1. Meghan

    I think there are pros and cons for online schooling. For me I prefer doing school in a face to face setting and having the interaction with other students and the professor. But for some people they like it better because they don’t have to be forced to learn at a certain time and can work on the assignments whenever it’s convienant for them, like my sister in law she prefers online studies rather than face to face becuase she can get her chores done at home and then focus on school when she feels she is ready to learn. Everyone learns and interpretives information differently and in the end it is up to the individual on what they prefer. For some students they may want to take that “easy class” online and and not have to worry about going to lectures and focus more on the harder classes. But in some cases certain classes are only offered online and students don’t have a choice, this happened to me and I never wanted to take an online class agian because I found I forgot about the class and fell behind. I think that face to face is better and gives student’s the real school feeling.

  2. Nathan Cornell

    I do not think online learning can be as effective as face to face mode of education. Although there have been major developments in the online learning aspect it still cannot offer some aspects of face to face learning. For instance, the ability to directly work with your professor on problems and get face to face individual help which is vital to most students understanding difficult concepts. The strengths are that it is accommodating for many individuals are and unable to attend classes due to other commitments and is also a cheaper alternative than having to move to attend school. The negatives however are that the lack of one on one help can make concepts harder to grasp and therefore courses more difficult.

  3. Jvo

    I took an online class here at the U of L, it was too bad of an experience but it was couple of years ago. To me it felt extremely superficial and I couldn’t really feel the importance of the contents of the information that was being taught. So I don’t think that online classes can be as effective as face to face teaching (personal preference). Face to face lectures allows you to have real time responses to any questions you and class mates might have at that moment. However I do see the advantages of having online courses because everyone learns in a different ways. If you are an individual that doesn’t like being in a large noisy classroom you should have the option of learning information at your own pace in your house.

  4. Tracy

    I do see the merits of online classes, especially as university / college attendees increase and funding decreases. I have even taken an online course myself and it was ok. It can feel very alienating though. I remember the best part of my online class being the lab time, where I could go and actually talk to my professor and classmates (the ones who came at least).
    It seems that online classes have similar pros and cons to e-commerce. It’s available whenever, wherever, and conveniently but there is no sensual or interpersonal experience. Just as perfume cannot be smelled in an online store, the atmosphere of a classroom disappears. Just as e-commerce struggles to be personal without real physical contact, so do online courses. In the end it comes down to what the student is looking for. If they want an easy access learning medium that can be incorporated into a busy schedule, then online classes are a good fit. If the student is looking to meet new people, interact with professors and feel school spirit, a physical classroom will be necessary. So as online class offerings continue to rise, students have to make it clear to their university / college just what they’re looking for. By no means should physical classrooms be replaced.

  5. Brittany

    I think that offering classes online is a great idea. However, face-to-face classes still need to be taught. Depending on how you learn, online classes can be a success or fail. You have to be able to set deadlines and organize your schedule rather than just showing up for class. Personally, I did two years of taking online classes and loved it! You can work at a pace that fits your learning needs and can fit your classes in when it best suits you. The professors are still there to assist you should you need any clarification, but you need to take the initiative to contact them. There are many pros and cons for both online and brick-and-mortor classes. Both need to be continued to offered as each students learning styles are different.

  6. Alejandra

    I think taking a course online is a personal preference. I do think they are helpful when you can’t attend class because you are sick or you have some prior commitment. Not everyone can learn at 8am like some classes at the University if students were given the choice to be taught online for those courses they might consider it. For students that wish to take a course during the summer but go back home those online courses would be valuable for them and an option to get ahead rather than staying all year in the city that they go to school at. Online teaching I think is the best for those circumstances and especially beneficial for those easy courses which allow a student to finish the course faster. For those more challenging courses, however, I think that it is best to go to class and have that face to face interaction and perhaps get additional help from classmates. If a course was only offered online I think that would be a disadvantage because not all students learn the same way.

  7. Teresa

    I believe that the strengths of online courses is that it offers convenience to students who may need the flexibility. For example, I had the option of taking a course online or through the classroom but because of my situation, a young child and a part-time job, I chose the online course which I found to be extremely helpful because of the option to do the learning modules at my convenience. At the same time, I feel like online courses may create a situation where students can fall behind because the material is not fully explained as it would be in the classroom. Live online streaming can be a fix to these issues at it provides the convenience of being at home and having the ability to pause or rewind the lecture as needed.

  8. Kayla D

    I personally could never handle an online course. I need the face-to-face interaction with a professor. I am definitely a hands on learner, and think that class need to have a more practical component to them. For me, courses changing to being completely online would hinder my understanding. Questions and clarity would also be a difficult thing to achieve when you do not have direct contact with your professor. I like being more than just a student number. I also have heard that one of the issues employers have found with University graduates is that they lack the hands on experience that is sometimes better offered through Colleges. Turning away from the hands on experience would only expand this gap.
    On the positive side it definitely offers options for students with families or who are physically unable to make it to their campus.
    I think that both types of courses need to be offered, but a focus on the in class face-to-face learning needs to be the main medium used.

  9. Chelsey Kitaguchi

    I I believe that online teaching will never be as effective as the face-to-face method, however I do believe that it is more efficient for institutions to use. The power of being able to teach 5 times as many students saves professor salary costs. As well, online teaching gives students the ability to learn at their own rate (if lectures are available to watch at any time), but still give some structured guidelines and due dates that distance learning does not provide. . However, there are many weaknesses with online education. First, the Internet is very finicky, and therefore trusting such technology to work flawlessly all the time is very unlikely. Some students may not be able to access the lecture, damaging their learning experience and grades. Second, students may not feel comfortable approaching their professor for help if they do not feel that personable experience. It would be much harder to connect to students over email. The professor may not reply right away, and the student may not get the answer he/she was looking for. Overall, I think that online method is going to become a necessity for larger universities, however, I believe that the face to face method is most viable to the students and should be considered the best and first option if given a choice.

  10. Beth

    I dont like the idea of a course only being available online, with no option to actually attend the lecture. When I first started reading the article, I thought it was a cool idea as I understood that students could go to the class in person, or if they couldn’t make the actual course, they could watch it online. Obviously as the article went on, the article made it clear that some students would have no option to attend the lecture, interact with the prof and students, and possibly get motivated or inspired by the passion/interest of those people. I believe these are valuable experiences- human experiences- that the technology of online lectures is taking away. If colleges do want to offer courses in this format, they should at the very least make them much less expensive, as the student is not taking class space, or teacher time. Most likely, the primary extra cost is the camera and the streaming of it, so it doesnt make sense to charge astronomical fees to teach students online.
    In addition, I feel these universities are not thinking creatively and efficiently enough to reduce costs in other areas. Their primary concern should be the quality of education they are offering to their students, however this seems to be one of the first areas they are cutting costs for, instead of a last resort. It seems to be (from just reading the article) that these institutions are being lazy, and using these technologies as a means to communicate “we are so advanced, this is the future of education!” when students, parents and professors alike have serious complaints about the validity of such a statement.

  11. Fiona Jin

    I think that offering online class has advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that it provides a great opportunity for some people who have job and want to take a part-time class. By taking online course, such students do not need to quit their job but also can enrich their knowledge. And also, online course is usually cheaper than normal face to face teaching since all the study material are all online, students don’t need to buy textbooks and other related material. Online education also has disadvantages. It lack of interaction. In normal class mode, students and teachers can interact in class. If students don’t understand well in one part, teacher can repeat or slow down, but in online teaching mode don’t have this interaction. And also, if students study at home or dorm by themselves, a lot of other things will take away their attention on study. Students cannot concrete on study in online mode, but in traditional teaching mode, students can concreted on study for the whole class, which is more efficient.

  12. Kaleigh

    There are many advantages and disadvantages for online education. I personally prefer face to face learning in a classroom rather than online learning. I think it is important to be able to interact with your professors and classmates in a face to face setting. A face to face setting allows students to ask questions and get clarification in real time. Also, face to face learning is more structured, and many students like myself need due dates, and scheduled class times in order to be successful, and not fall behind. Online learning can be beneficial for some student, as many students have different learning styles. Online learning allows students to do their work at their own pace, and this is definitely on of the advantages to online learning. Overall, I do think it would be beneficial to offer both online courses and face to face courses.

  13. Alisha Bailes

    I personally would like to try this online education, I find most people don’t even ask questions when your in a classroom over 200 people! So why not doe online classes and if the instructor still offers help sessions or office hours for one on one help I think it would work great! You can rewind lectures watch them again and do things on your own schedule!! You could probably work more hours and tuition costs could possibly go down..

    Some weaknesses are similar to weaknesses we already experience what if the schools network goes down, or someone is unable to access a computer, does this mean that a laptop will become mandatory for all students possible included in tuition’s.

  14. Kayley F

    There are advantages and disadvantages to both conventional and online instruction modes, however there is little controversy that conventional teaching methods of face-to-face are undoubtedly more effective. Students who are particularly hard-pressed for time due to commitments to family and/or work, distance from educational centre, etc are more likely to accept online teaching as their primary education mode due to convenience. Furthermore, the cost of these courses is generally lower, as less lecture space is needed to seat all the students. As I have once taken an online course myself, I understand why a student would want to take advantage of online learning, however due to the experience I had, I wouldn’t agree that the learning experience was enriched. Universities should maintain their offerings of online courses as it is a promising revenue source, but there should not be any decrease in regular offerings of conventional courses. If this were the case, students would be more likely to pay more for their education in order to receive quality knowledge development.

  15. Cory

    I believe that in order for online education to be effective at a university level more effort should be put into the earlier school system to shorten class time and push towards more at home learning. As of now most high schools do not offer a lot of “do it yourself” courses, however they do exist. I don’t believe that everyone is suited for online courses, because of self motivation or lack of ability, one might struggle to learn without a prof pushing the agenda forward. I also believe that even while learning by one’s self, the presence of a coach or prof at regular intervals is important for feedback and process reports. I think a mixture is definitely the solution to overcrowded classrooms. Don’t get rid of the classroom, but push harder for self learning.

  16. brett s

    If you ask me college and or university, no matter what the expence, should include that “university experience” where you go to class, meet new people and socialize in a personal manner. I understand that new technologies open doors to new ideas that are practical and convenient like online courses but to me this seems anti-social. Having said that I do agree that online courses that are live streaming during class are a great alternative for distance learners or morning classes that the article spoke about earlier. It makes it possible for people who might not have made it to class, not miss out on the lecture. This would be extremely beneficial for athletes who have to travel away for the weekend and leave on thursday, missing class on friday.

  17. Katie Sparling

    First off, I would like to know how separate students marks would compare from taking the same course – one group online and one group attending a lecture in the class. It would be interesting to see the conclusions. Having said that, I believe that offering online courses streaming live accross the “university network” could possibly raise some issues. What if the professor gave marks throughout the lecture to those that spoke? are students who choose to listen to the lecture online surrendering this advantage of going to class? and is that fair? other possible things to think about could be what if no one showed up to class? often professors dislike this. Or furthermore, what if professors didnt show up to class and just did the lecture in their home or office and online streaming was the only way to actually see the lecture? might not be allowed but it raises a fun argument.

  18. Brett S

    I believe that this issue is in the eye of the beholder. There are tonnes of pros and cons and ovbiously everyone will weigh them differently. Personally I find that going to class would be more benificial than viewing an online streaming of the class for a bunch of reasons. I feel more engaged when I go to class, i may want to ask a question or if I get called apon I must be ready or look like a fool. If i were to stay at home and view online, then i wouldn’t pay attention, i would be on other websites and not paying full attention to the lecture. The main advantages that online classes give is if you couldnt make it to the lecture then you could watch it online and not end up missing out entirely.

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