Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Distance learning Essay

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (1999) of the U. S. Department of Education, technological innovations especially in information and communications technology (ICT) has precipitated a revolution in the delivery of distance learning education, especially in the postsecondary level of education. To argue that distance learning education has come to stay and has changed perceptions and attitudes of education delivery is perhaps one without contention. Management guru, Peter Drucker has even gone as far as to say traditional on-campus university education will be defunct in 30 years. Focussing of three seminal areas of advantage – flexibility and convenience, resource cost, and accessibility – this paper will argue that earning a degree through distance learning education is better than through a traditional institution. One of the fundamental advantages that distance learning degree programs have over residential on-campus programs is flexibility and convenience. For me, location is one of the most important considerations for choosing a degree program. Questions like: Do I really want to relocate to earn a degree? Will I like my new location? nd Will I get a visa to travel to this location to study for a degree? are important considerations that I will have to deal with when choosing an on-campus degree program. These considerations helped me in choosing to do a degree program in law by distance study. My choice of a distance study program made it convenient for me to stay in my own locality while still having access to quality education that is commensurate with on-campus equivalents. Moreover, a lot of distance learning programs come with the benefit of self pacing one’s education; a benefit which I had by pursuing my law degree as a distance study student. My schedule allowed me to complete the course in two years and I was able to plan my education to fit into my schedule without any major disruptions. Thus, apart from being able to earn a degree, I had the advantage of not putting on hold other things that are equally important to me. Family and career commitments for example, did not have to suffer because I had chosen to earn a degree. With distance learning education, I was able to conveniently earn a degree in the comfort of my home. The fear of resigning from a permanent job to study and the financial and career implications of such a decision did not arise at all. More importantly, as my present career is in the area of my study, it gave me the opportunity to readily apply the knowledge gained in my distance learning education to my work. Consequently, I had greater opportunities of upward mobility in my career aspirations than I would have had if I had studied through the traditional on-campus method. Another major advantage I had by earning my degree by distance learning is the fact that it is more cost effective in comparison to traditional on-campus university education. I was able to utilise time more effectively when studying for my degree through distance learning education. The time I would have spent commuting to lectures was spent more usefully to study. Apart from the time constraints that on-campus programs are plagued with, commuting also brings additional financial cost. This was not a problem for me as I studied at home. Furthermore, fees for distance learning programs tend to be lower than on-campus programs as the distance learning student does not use the physical facilities of the institution providing the degree program. In my specific situation, I paid less for accessing the same quality of education I would have had if I had studied on an on-campus program. The cost of maintaining expensive on-campus facilities will invariably be passed on to the on-campus student. One of the most important considerations for on-campus students is accommodation. If one has a family and is studying far from one’s family home, the most obvious solution would be to maintain two separate accommodations. For parents financing their children’s on-campus university education, they may be paying for two accommodations at the same time – the family accommodation, and their children’s on-campus accommodation. This duplication of expenditure was unnecessary in my case as I studied from home. Thus with distance learning education, one can have access to the same quality of on-campus education at a much reduced resource cost. Evidently, there are so many advantages that can be argued in favour of distance study education. However, for the specific purposes of this paper, the final consideration that will be argued in favour of distance learning education is the better level of accessibility to course moderators and tutors. One of the increasingly pervasive features of distance learning education is the availability of a personal tutor. While studying by distance education for example, I had access to a personal tutor who I could contact through various communication devices like email and telephone. Thus though the argument may be made that on-campus programs offer a personal touch to the learning process, this is not lost in distance learning education. The issue of spontaneity in response to questions have been said to be an advantage of on-campus education over distance learning education. On closer scrutiny however, it can be realised that this advantage is perhaps even greater in certain circumstances when one is studying by distance study. In the first place, ICT makes it possible for communication to be instantaneous and as such, spontaneity is no longer an exceptional feature of on-campus education. If I had a question, I easily called my personal tutor and he discussed the question with me. Also, through the use of web technologies like discussion forums, and discussion boards, in-depth discussions amongst course participants were held online and this greatly enhanced my learning process. The use of personal tutors in a lot of distance study programs also makes it possible for peculiar educational needs to be addressed in a customized manner. Also, the accessibility that distance learning education brings makes it possible for more people to earn quality education on a wider scale than would have been possible through traditional institutional means. The use of revolutionary open source online learning programs like Moodle breaks the restrictions that are associated with accessing traditional on-campus degree programs. A global community can thus access distance learning degree programs that they would have otherwise not been able to access. The above presentation has advanced the advantages that earning a degree by distance learning education has over traditional on-campus degree programs. This paper has considered three key advantages – convenience and flexibility, resource cost, and accessibility – while conceding that the considered areas reflect only a limited perspective of the colossal advantages that distance learning education has over traditional on-campus programs. In conclusion, it is again affirmed that based on the justifications and advantages adduced, limited though they may be, earning a degree by distance learning education is far better than earning a degree through the traditional institution system.

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