Academics, teachers, and educators are all united in one voice on distance learning. It is an effective and efficient way for students of all ages and at all levels to learn. It has a number of advantages that allow it to be cheap and universally accessible to almost everyone who can access the Internet.
But they also recognize that in comparison to the traditional classroom, distance learning does have its limitations, and in order to overcome them they are first working to identify them. Here are a few that they have identified to date: Limited connection between course material and its explanation. This is in contrast to the traditional classroom where students follow the written material and are guided by the human interaction of the teacher and their peers. Limited human teacher expression and interaction.
Instead of following the human teacher's body expressions and language patterns to learn, distance learners following an inanimate computer screen. Students then miss the teacher's gestures and the full impact of the oral interaction with the teacher. Lack of human connection. Most of us have become accustomed to receiving direction and instruction from a human, our parents are our very first teachers, and that is how we learn. In distance learning some students find it difficult to relate to an online tutor and they miss and need that human touch. Limited peer support.
Although you can and will develop friendships amongst your co-learners in a distance learning program, we do learn in the interaction with our peers. Think about your first smoke or your first drink, the messages from your peers were pretty crucial to convincing you to experiment. In learning we support one another and that is a little more difficult in distance learning.
Lack of contextual understanding. In the traditional classroom all of our learning is done by using examples to help us understand the context of what we are learning. In distance learning there are fewer examples or explanations past the initial concept or theory and we have to find that contextual understanding by ourselves. For some students who are accustomed to learning through contextual discussion it may be difficult to grasp or understand some basic and important ideas.
None of these limitations are insurmountable by a student who is anxious and eager to learn, but they do slow some people down in their distance learning program. The good news is as the experts have identified these limitations they are already at work to find ways to improve distance learning to remove them. Like education itself there are no limits on distance learning, only limits on ourselves. .
By: Ryan Larson