Saturday, September 26, 2009

Online Learning vs. Class Room Learning

Online Learning vs. Class Room Learning - a brief by Narendran

Online Learning clinched a business of $50 billion with some 3.5 million students benefiting from it in 2006 and the figures are only leaping. In a couple of decades, it is touted to touch a trillion dollars, when third world countries are expected to wipe out rural illiteracies though online education.

The effectiveness of an e-leaning system is derived from three basic functions which comprise quality education, affordable education, convenience and flexibility to learners while tangible environmental impacts such as lesser use of paper etc are incidental to it, making it affordable for the poor strata of the society.

The enigma of the online has kept many a student away from going online for learning. The most often-cited reason is the fear of poor comprehension in a virtual class room. The second impression is that one will miss the interaction with other students in a virtual class. Put in one shot, one can aver that these fears are no more than figments of imagination and myths. The Sloan report, based on a poll of academic leaders, says that students generally appear to be at least as satisfied with their on-line classes as they are with traditional ones. In fact, the comprehension is better in a virtual class than in an in-person class. 

Why is e-learning so popular in certain parts of the word? In many contexts, online coaching is self-paced and the learning sessions are available 24x7. Learners are not bound by a specific day/time to physically attend classes. The quality of education in advanced counties is measured at least in part by the quality of faculty. Students especially in higher levels of education do not mind hunting for the best of the faculties in the world. The fact that instructors of the highest caliber can share their knowledge across borders ensures quality of teaching in a virtual class room. 

An earnest opinion by online teaching firm from the US, "Strictly English TOEFL Tutor" puts it beyond doubts saying 

"My company has been teaching online for 2 years now and we find that the students actually learn MORE and learn FASTER when studying online!"

Another comment posted in the WiziQ, world’s fastest growing learning platform, makes it explicitly clear why online learning is superior.

“Hello. I teach credit recovery for a high school, our entire program as well as after school program is 100% online. Some of the programs are live tutors some are online classes to work through at their own pace. I have seen a wonderful success rate in these classes. 

I am also an online learner. I have earned my Masters on line and I am in my final quarter of my classes towards my PhD, which I am also earning online. My dissertation is on the effects online tutoring has on high school students in regard to closing the achievement gap. 

And lastly, I truly believe in online learning, I have been a student in both an Ivy League school (brick and mortar) and in an online setting and I have learned 1,000 times more in an online setting. You do not have anyone there lecturing you and then you do the work, online you are made to do it all yourself. Amazing how different the results are. - Heather”

Test preps like GRE and GMAT are intensive studies. In such deep studies, a wholesale classroom treatment can not be as effective as the one-to-one online tutoring. 

In the Indian context, online coaching is all the more relevant, not only for reaching out to the rural illiterate mass through technology, but also for higher levels of learning such as test prep. For an office-goer or marketing executive who can not reach a class room at the appointed hour, online learning is a good solution. For a girl student, who can not go home in time after class sessions in the evening; online coaching is the other means. For persons who are stay away from major city centers, virtual classes are the handy way out. For a student who wants to access a particular faculty because of his specialization but who stays in an inaccessible place, online is the route. Even within city limits, commuting form one part to another is an ordeal. To escape this tribulation, on line learning is the panacea. 

The Letter "E" in e-learning does not stand for just electronic in today’s context. As the learned author Luskin puts it, it is interpreted to mean exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, extended, excellent, and educational in addition to "electronic?.

None can illustrate this better than Alicia Helle, an online student at the UW, who says, "Obtaining my degree online has been a blessing. With two small children, I am able to work when it is convenient for me and my family. I have nothing but positive comments and experiences from my time at UW-Stout.”

In the past, learning couldn't truly transcend the sovereignties of nations in letter and spirit. Today, it can however, thanks to e-learning. 

Wish you all, the best of teaching and learning