The more information technology develops, the easier various processes and systems become. Education is no exception. In recent years, distance education has become more and more popular. But what is distance learning; what is special about it? What pros and cons does it offer to both students and learning process organizers? Let’s dive deeper into a theme to understand all the pitfalls and opportunities of distance learning.
What Is Special About Distance Learning for a Teacher?
The organization of distance learning has its distinctive features. It differs from face-to-face “meetings,” requires special preparation, and develops unique skills in all the participants in the education process. Many tutors give preference to the online format of education due to the following advantages.
#1 – Growth in the Number of Students
A limited number of students can attend an offline seminar or course. This is due to the limited capacity of any room. In this regard, the Internet expands the possibilities and allows a lecturer to invite any number of students from different cities and even countries.
#2 – Cutting Costs
When organizing online training, there is no need to pay rent or cover other organizational costs. To invite the best speakers or host an event in several regions, you do not need to deal with travel and accommodation costs. You can simply gather everyone in a virtual classroom.
#3 – Learning Process Automation
Online systems allow you to develop discipline for distance learning and automate routine processes. For example, the platform automatically maintains a database of students, generates reports on their progress, checks test assignments, and sends reminders to study the material. The distance education format makes learning convenient not only at the initial stage but also for all other steps further.
#4 – Large Selection of Tools to Work With
A lecturer can employ various distance learning tools to make the education process smooth and effective. For example, a tutor can use video, make presentations or screen recordings here, enable chat, or employ interactive teaching methods to convey different types of information.
#5 – Learning Control & Learning Analytics
Distance learning platforms allow you to closely monitor student progress. For example, the teacher can at any time view the statistics and student grades on the lessons learned. This helps to optimize the learning curve at max.
#6 – No Location Binding
There is an opportunity to involve experts from any city in the training. It is convenient for the experts themselves. They can give lectures right from their living room, and this will in no way affect the quality of teaching.
#7 – Convenient Planning
A student and a teacher can choose any convenient time for classes. And if the training is not held in real-time, a lecturer can prepare the material and check the students’ answers at any time.
What Are the Limitations for a Teacher?
Just like anything in life, distance learning has two sides to the medal. There are also a couple of pitfalls that every teacher should be aware of. In the process of organizing and conducting training, there are some difficulties.
#1 – Inability to Work with Online Tools
When a teacher switches from an offline to an online format, one may not understand how to work with LMS platforms and other programs necessary for training. For example, some tutors may not know how to work with Google documents, what to do with a screen recorder, how to create presentations, or how to log in to the Google Classroom, etc.
Use distance learning platforms that don’t require any specialized skills. If you lack certain knowledge and skills to work with other programs, you can quickly get them on specialized online courses.
#2 – Technical Difficulties
Effective learning requires a stable Internet connection and proper operation of programs and devices. Sometimes technical failures occur that an inexperienced user cannot cope with.
Hire an IT specialist who can quickly solve any technical problems and help not only teachers but also students.
#3 – Difficulties With Retaining Attention & Engaging Students
When the education process is held online, a teacher often does not have eye contact with students. One does not feel their feedback, cannot assess the level of their attention and involvement in the process. Because of this, it can be difficult to make sure that students are immersed in learning the material, understand it well, and have no questions.
It is important to learn how to manage the attention of a distant audience, emotionally involve listeners in your story and explain the material in a way that you can be heard and understood. To gain this skill, study the list of distance learning books and select the appropriate literature.
What Is Special About Distance Learning for Students?
The Internet has made any knowledge available. And there are no limits and restrictions for those who want to gain knowledge without leaving their homes. Here are some of the most prominent features of distance learning.
#1 – Large Selection of Courses
A person can acquire any knowledge and skills online – learn a foreign language, master a digital profession, etc. A student can find and compare courses, choose from a multitude of different options, and access distance learning that meets one’s needs and expectations.
#2 – Practical Knowledge
Online programs are most often held by practitioners who work in large companies and have a good understanding of what they are talking about and how it works in practice. When it comes to traditional universities, it is theorists who usually teach there, and the knowledge they convey may differ from reality.
#3 – Saving Your Budget
Online courses are cheaper than offline training since there is no need to pay for premises and equipment. What is more, there are many free courses, and there is no need to purchase any books. As a rule, all manuals are provided in digital form.
#4 – No Discrimination
Online education is available to everyone. For example, distance learning is an excellent opportunity for people with disabilities to get an education. Teachers have no pets; they treat all students equally.
#5 – Flexible Learning Rate
Every student can choose the pace of learning – one can quickly master a new skill and get a profession or vice versa – study at a calm pace. There is nobody to rush the process if there is no need for it. For example, you don’t have to pause your main activity to gain additional skills.
#6 – Instant Knowledge Test
After studying lectures, a student completes practical tasks in order to consolidate the new material. For example, it is necessary to pass a test or answer open-ended questions.
What Are the Limitations for Students?
Not everything is so smooth and comfortable for learners. There are a couple of disadvantages that “online” students are forced to deal with.
#1 – Little Live Communication
A student may not have enough personal contact with a teacher and other students. It is especially true when the course consists of recorded lectures, and a student cannot receive an answer to the question of interest from the teacher at the time of studying the material.
If this is important to you, choose courses held in real-time.
#2 – Inability to Organize the Learning Process
Effective online learning is based on discipline, responsibility, and motivation. Otherwise, distance learning courses will be just a waste of time.
Determine your motivation – why you are taking training, what valuable information you will receive, and how your life will change. Regularly remind yourself why you are studying.
#3 – Information Overload
A student independently adjusts the pace of learning. However, to speed up the results, it may be tempting to take a six-month course in a month. There is so much information that there is a risk of data overload. As a result, the desire to learn may disappear.
Stick to the recommended learning rate. It is individual for each course and is set by a tutor. It is important to set aside a certain amount of time for learning and practicing.
Now, you know what awaits you if you decide to take distance courses. Although there are some disadvantages of the online format, they can all be dealt with if the training is organized correctly. Use the information to choose the appropriate format and study with pleasure!