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Research Paper in Education: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning

7 pages
1862 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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For a student to go through successfully the education system, he or she requires a lot of resources. These resources are not only required by the student alone but also the teacher. Currently, technology has made the access to resources much more comfortable as the internet has become an instrumental tool in acquiring and sharing of information. Online learning can be described as the use of the internet in line with other relevant technologies to acquire information, i.e., for a student while it is on this platform that the teacher shares the appropriate materials that will be of benefit to the student, (Etesse, West, & Chasen, 2015). This same platform also gives the teachers an opportunity of regulating the courses that students will take as well as producing modern and up to date materials for learning.

The use of computers while at the same time engaging the learning experience with the internet is what can be described as active learning, (Ryan, Scott, Freeman, & Patel, 2013). This is a recent phenomenon compared to the past times where the students did not have opportunities to learn using the internet but rather information was only obtained through hard copy materials, i.e., books.

Some of the characteristics that online learning has compared to the traditional form of learning is that it must have a multimedia environment, it must have the ability within itself to incorporate lots of journals on education and research both locally and internationally, it must also have the ability of supporting collaborative communication such that the users have their determinants of when they can access information. The online portals also give a wide range of networks that an individual might get information. Finally, online learning can be practiced on a variety of computer operating systems, (Laudon, & Laudon, 2016).

Online learning has several advantages over the traditional form of learning in that it has made its users have learning schedules that favor them regarding the time it is carried out as well as the duration which is different from other learners. This, in turn, has resulted in the interaction and collaboration of peers and teachers rise as compared to the traditional method of learning.

Online learning has also availed multiple opportunities for students studying at higher levels as they are now able to get a higher education at the comfort of their homes and at the same time they are still going on with their regular routines of work, (Brookfield, 2015). This is because the students are no longer tied down to a rigid form of learning.

The multimedia constructs made available in the online learning parameter has made many students more active in the learning processes as some of the constructs capture their interests thereby making learning more enjoyable, (Guo, Xiao, Van Toorn, Lai, & Seo, 2016).

Problem Statement

It has been observed that not many students in Saudi Arabia appreciate the concept of online learning. The long distance that they need to travel so that they can study English is what has forced some of them to opt for online learning. Although some students have embraced online learning, they have not been able to utilize the various concepts found in online learning as well as the technology involved. Besides, online learning presents with certain advantages and disadvantages which this study aims to explore.

Research Questions

What are the advantages and disadvantages of online learning?

Which are the benefits of active learning?

What are the norms making an active learning and those for utilizing the technology?

Research Objectives

To identify the advantages and disadvantages of online learning

To determine the benefits of active learning

To establish the norms making an active learning and those for utilizing the technology

Literature Review

Advantages of online learning

Some of the advantages that online learning has over the traditional form of education include the fact that it is flexible. This is because a student has the opportunity of deciding when and where to learn. When institutions adapt to online learning, then they will become much more flexible as opposed to being tied down to rigid schedules of having classes at specific times and in specific classrooms, (Ko, & Rossen, 2017).

Also, online learning also promotes the worth of a given material as a result of incorporating the large content materials made available on the internet.Through the internet, various platforms are made available for learners to discuss thereby leading to discussion forums that are of great help in making the learner have a wider perspective concerning different subjects, (Laudon, & Laudon, 2016). Since the platforms of discussions are online, the fear that students might have while interacting with other students is usually terminated while at the same time learners learn that people have different opinions apart from their thoughts, therefore, this knowledge creates respect between learners and on their differences in views. It is also through these discussion forums that content is being delivered to the students and the teachers.

At times, students may need to travel to far places/ countries so that they can learn a course that is not offered in their hometown/country. But with online learning, it has made the process of traveling not necessary thereby making the cost of learning cheaper and at the same time making learning easier, (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2014). Institutions have also cut down the costs needed for the construction of buildings as learners can learn wherever they are without necessarily being at the institution.

Furthermore, when a learner decides to study through online, they can choose as to whether they would want to go through the whole course or focus on a specific part of the course, (Barkley, Cross, & Major, 2014). This is an advantage that the traditional form of learning cannot offer as it made sure that a student goes through the whole course material without putting into consideration what was important to the learner.

Finally, online learning gives students the opportunity to choose how they would want to learn with the aim of finishing the course, (Barkley, Cross, & Major, 2014). For some, they might want to end rather quickly while others would want to take their time. Either way, whatever way a student may want to choose, the process enhances satisfaction among students while at the same time reducing their stress levels.

Disadvantages of online learning

Despite the fact that online learning has several advantages if incorporated in the learning process, the same also faces several disadvantages. Some of those obstacles as revealed by other studies for instance, online learning reduces the levels of interaction between students as well as that of a student to instructor. This makes the learners very remote, and some of them contemplate as to whether they can continue with the course or not, (Haw, Markwell, O'Reilly, Wilson, & Witsel, 2015). Such feelings make it difficult for a student to obtain the maximum content offered for a given course and it, therefore, requires a lot of commitment on the part of the learner to be able to overcome such difficulties.

Moreover, the traditional method of learning offers a one on one encounter between the teacher and the student, (Skinner, 2016). Should a student have any question that needs clarification or understanding, then they are better placed at being assisted by the teacher. Unlike the online learning which offers none and therefore it offers no opportunity for a student to ask questions and seek clarifications.

Although students going through online learning may be acquainted with vast knowledge in a variety of areas, they may develop poor communication skills as a result of not interacting with peers and teachers on a one on one basis. Therefore, they become incompetent in sharing their acquired information, (Best, & Kahn, 2016).

It is also challenging to control vices such as cheating in assessments as the student is usually far away from the examiner and the tests are mostly done through a proxy. Additionally, students practicing online learning may also find themselves in engaging in vices such as copy-pasting and pirating other people work through plagiarism. These vices always hinder a student from developing their original work; therefore, the students tend to become slack in knowledge, (Wurdinger, 2016).

Online learning also affects negatively the socialization process that allows students to interact with the institutions. At the same time, the role the teachers play in educating students reduced as students depend a lot on information gotten online but not on their instructors/teachers.Some discipline also may not accommodate online learning wholly because at times they require practicals that cannot be carried out online, (Walliman, 2015).

Active learning

This is a mode of learning in which the instructor uses technology as a way of engaging the students to participate in the learning activities fully. Currently, instructors are using the modern forms of technology to assist them in the teaching process while doing away with the traditional ways of lecturing, (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Agamba, 2014). This is because based on a lot of studies being conducted, it has been discovered that the students participating in active learning have better scores in their examinations than those that do not while at the same time the failure rate among the same students is greatly reduced.

Some of the benefits of using active learning as opposed to traditional learning are that students gain more content knowledge while at the same time become more critical in their thinking as they gain more positive attitudes towards their learning. As a result, they have increased levels of abilities to problem-solving. Additionally, both the instructors and the students get to be very enthusiastic about learning. It is also important to note that active learning enhances the level of perception level of the students regarding how literate information is laid out.

When it comes to the process of making norms by utilizing technology while emphasizing on active learning, having in mind the class size while developing assignments is one of the activities involved, (Lindlof, & Taylor, 2017). For example, for a video assignment to be successful, then a smaller class size needs to be put in place as opposed to a large class. Also, there is need to put in place restrictions concerning the length of the video to ensure that the project can be managed. The length of time the video should take must be put in place to ensure that students cover only the needed content material.

Moreover, the assignment should be well structured so that all the students might participate.Each member of the group should contribute towards the output of the result by bringing in their various inputs.

Besides, focus on a specific issue; the students should be encouraged to focus on a specific issue so that the project can become manageable as it will address the main topic of concern. Additionally, there is need to explain privacy issues. Students should make sure that in production videos unless they have been given the photo release forms, they should not take pictures of recognizable faces, number plates of cars as well as residential addresses. This practice ensures that students can respect the confidentiality of residents.

Also, provide access to equipment. The required equipment such as video cameras and tripod stand should be m...

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