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The two models of education have different advantages and disadvantages to both students and institutions. The main cause that has informed the increase in the number of packages and students with a preference to distance learning over typical classroom learning, has been the students’ ability to manage their schedules and time allocation. This is specifically in cases where students might have other obligations. The greatest concern even though that has resulted from this is whether the students enrolled in these programs are capable to gain the same level of excellence in their education as those in traditional classrooms.
One awareness that is made from a consideration of literature on the subject is that there is a challenge in determining which between the two models of education is the better option. The arguments in the paper will seek to point out that this aspect will largely be based on a number of different factors and these will determine which of the two is better (Yi, 2013).
The other advantage is that distance learning allows students to learn remotely, thereby eliminating the cost associated with having to attend physical class. This also presents an advantage to students who may reside in places that are distant from the institution of learning and would have therefore lacked the ability to attend these institutions. The other saving that students get is that these programs are in many times priced at lower costs as compared to traditional classes. This is in spite of the content and quality being similar in most instances.
The greatest disadvantage though that is cited by most authors is that students miss out on the connection that is achieved in a physical classroom setup. This is considered important in a number of regards, this includes building student’s soft skills. These are skills such as team work, communication skills and presentation skills (Arthur, 2004). In spite of the improvements that are being made in regards to emulating these conditions over a virtual environment, it will still require some time before technology can effectively capture these lessons in a simulated environment.
Institutions benefit from distance learning through increased participation in the programs that are offered to students. There is a greater scalability in these arrangements that are usually not followed with increased capital expenditure that may follow the construction of campuses in traditional learning setups. One point worth mentioning is that for distance learning classes to be effective there is need for institutions to invest in both equipment and personnel. This is to ensure that these classes are effectively delivered to students (Clark & Kwinn, 2007). The only disadvantage is that institutions have lesser oversight over the students who undertake their programs. This may affect the quality of education that these institutions offer. This may have a consequent impact on the institution’s reputation.
In conclusion, distance learning offers a varied number of advantages to both students and institutions as compared to traditional classrooms. This though follows adequate investment by both students and institutions in ensuring that they are able to utilize the benefits of distance learning. Also, that they are able to surmount some of the challenges that result from distance learning. There is also the realization that there are a number of courses where students would be able to perform better with distance learning modules as compared to their counterparts in traditional classrooms (Stack, 2015). Success may therefore boil down to selection.
Arthur, D. (2004). Fundamentals of human resources management, fourth edition. New York, N.Y.: American Management Association.
Clark, R. C., & Kwinn, A. (2007). The new virtual classroom: Evidence-based guidelines for synchronous e-learning. San Francisco: Wiley.
Ni, Y. A. (2013). Comparing the Effectiveness of Classroom and Online Learning: Teaching Research Methods. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 19(2), pp. 199-215.
Stack, S. (2015). Learning Outcomes in an online vs traditional course. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(1), pp. 1-18.
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