We have seen many major universities focusing on online education or distance learning in a big way. They have encouraged many working professionals and students across the globe to sign up for courses and enhance their knowledge and embark on a different career path. “Virtual classroom”, as we call it, is the crux of Distance Education and an effective tool that becomes an important part of every student enrolling for distance learning courses.
This tectonic shift from ‘actual classrooms’ to ‘virtual classrooms’, has seen resentment amongst the faculty members who fail to see the manifold advantages of distance learning. Don Huesman, Managing Director of the Innovation Group at the Wharton School says,
“Distance learning is a noble cause, providing access to college to those who otherwise find themselves left outside the ivy covered gates. Imagine displaced autoworkers or single mothers completing coursework after putting the kids to bed. In some instances, the barrier to access is not distance, but capacity.” We agree, yet again the question still remains “Can distance learning be one of the best forms of education?” Well, one school of thought suggests that distance learning is a monologue whereas attending classroom lectures is more in the form of a dialogue.
In a way, the old or traditional method of learning would still be of significance where teachers and students sit together and interact with one another. However, one cannot solely agree to the idea that only physical classroom education is meaningful. For example, a seminar conducted by Harvard University is no doubt best for a student to attend in person, but at the same time will it not be favorable for another student to attend the same seminar through virtual classroom and gain the same knowledge sitting in another corner of the world?
After all, the purpose of an institute is to enable students to enhance their skills and qualifications and enrich their knowledge and eventually develop their careers.
Often, critics miss the point that distance education is one of the most collaborative, collective, social as well as an interactive way of learning. Apart from this, distance education also fulfils a person’s desire to learn steadily and gradually over a longer period and they can enjoy the pleasure of being part of a learning experience that’s rewarding as well as exciting.
Undoubtedly, online education can never be similar to the real classroom experience but seeing it from a long term and different perspective, it has manifold benefits because it provides personalized, attentive, concentrated education which any classroom or interactive session could not possibly give.
With Hybrid Distance Learning Programs, online education has escalated to a whole new level and gives a new dimension to the new age learners.