Learning At A Distance: Pluses And Minuses Of Distance EducationEarl Harewood | Lecturer, Heriot-Watt University/School of Higher Education
I think distance education has evolved over the years. It has been researched and refined many times over to the point that it becoming a more acceptable mode of disseminating and blending learning. One thing for certain is that it has gotten better and more acceptable among a larger customer-base. Many institutions have added distance education as another revenue stream given the demand for this type of learning. The fast pace of living, learning and improving one’s competitiveness are some of the drivers for this new and persistent trend.
On the plus side, I think distance education (driven by technology) is a wonderful way for someone to earn their degree without disrupting aspects of their life. The opportunities offered by distance education afford many avenues for enrolled students to improve their competitiveness in the workplace by applying what they have learned to real world situations at work.
Additionally, it provides a forum for learners to ask pointed questions about work related situations with relevance to a specific topic being discussed in class. I also believe that distance learning provide a forum for participants to cultivate meaningful professional networks and can leverage these networks to address different work and professional development issues.
Distance learning is constantly changing and with every change, it gets better and better. However, I think there is still work to be done to develop some baseline practices that will establish the face-to-face equivalent with a distance education course. This is highly debated and I believe with time there will be a marriage between the standards for an online course or degree with that of a face-to-face course or degree. I am sure there are other demerits, but I don’t think any is as weighty as this one.
Author Perspective: Educator