Distance Education: Pros and Cons of E-Learning
Distance education is attracting more and more people from around the globe. What began more than half a century ago with pamphlets and correspondence courses has expanded into a wide range of opportunities.
Distance education is a great option for those looking to acquire new skills and knowledge. Thanks to the rapid development of technology, computer-based resources allow institutions to provide high-quality courses in all sorts of degree programs.
But can this make up for a lack of contact with professors? In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of virtual universities. Distance education institutions provide content via audio, video, and e-mail materials, as well as virtual spaces that you can share with teachers and students in real time.
What is distance education?
The internet is a great facilitator for online education. Via tablets, desktops, laptops and even smartphones, students can access the content corresponding to each course and program.
Analyzing the evolution of this trend, Learning Management System (LMS) platforms and e-learning courses have tripled over the past 10 years. All of this is allowing online education to expand its range of offerings. Nowadays, they can provide access to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate courses.
University degrees obtained through distance education programs are often on par with traditional in-person opportunities. And this is without even taking into account the endless array of alternative courses for every specialized skill you could imagine.
Clear advantages of distance education
Like everything in life, people are free to choose the paths they want to pursue. However, for those who want to receive an education despite significant obstacles like time and space, the advantages offered by this alternative are very appealing:
- Flexibility: while many educational institutions try to maintain ample schedules, there will always be a percentage of students who won’t have access due to this condition.
- Anyone who has ever been late to a class and missed out on information vital to understanding the course material knows the cost of rigid schedules.
Meanwhile, those who are able to study full-time have to adapt to a scheduled timeframe that may be too slow. In both these cases, distance education offers solutions to time considerations.
- It’s perfect for people who are raising children. After becoming mothers, many women have to postpone their studies indefinitely.
- It’s difficult to find quiet time when you’re surrounded by children. Online courses and programs allow students to keep up with the pace of study even in the face of such limitations.
- Professionals who want to specialize. Everyone who chooses to pursue distance education has their own reasons for doing so. They may be professionals who want to refine their skills in a specific area of their work, or those for whom an in-person education is logistically impossible.
Another demographic that opts for virtual classrooms is young people who had to abandon their studies in order to work. In these cases, a virtual degree represents an excellent alternative.
What are the downsides of e-learning?
As we’ve seen, the advantages are abundantly clear, but there are also some disadvantages. Is distance itself a disadvantage? Historically, this has been the main criticism of virtual learning. Nevertheless, geographical barriers have practically been eliminated thanks to technological advances.
In any case, not all courses and degree programs have caught up with the evolution of computer science. In other words, not all courses offer conferences, chatrooms and virtual classrooms. On the other hand, some of these courses require at least one face-to-face class per month, which takes away a bit of the magic of virtuality.
Perhaps the main disadvantage of distance education is that it requires you to be responsible for your own learning. Without a professor there in person to address any doubts you may have, you may become frustrated. This causes some students to give up entirely.
In conclusion, just as with any new undertaking, weighing the pros and cons in advance can save you time and money. However, the rising popularity of distance education suggests that this option is becoming increasingly versatile and accepted.