Distance learning, sometimes called e-learning is here defined as interactive learning in which the learning content is available online and provides automatic feedback to the student’s learning activities. Online communication with real people may or may not be included, but the focus of e- learning is usually more on the learning content than on communication between learners and tutors.
Distance learning and its relationship to emerging computer technologies have together offered many promises to the field of education. In practice however, the combination often falls short of what it attempts to accomplish. Some of the shortcomings are due to problems with the technology; others have more to do with administration, instructional methods, or students. Despite the problems, many users like technologies such as compressed video and see continued growth in the area.
However, distance learning is no such advantage is that it is easy, a person can study without attending classes or lectures, while working or doing some other course. It is also a good alternative for housewives who are not able to enroll into courses because they have to take care of young children, just deal with computers and have their own time to learn and also can communicate with tutors and peers via online such as email, forum and chat. . In distance education courses, you would be provided with study material and also would have to submit assignments on time. These assignments would be assessed by professors who would send you feedback. However, if you are planning to enroll into distance learning, you need to to know about some of the distance learning pros and cons.
Like every good thing, even distance learning has some disadvantages that can make it seem a little inconvenient for people. The problem may be due to factors balance between personal and learning problems. If students cannot adapt to the system of distance learning, they will face a different problem. In addition, lack of knowledge and skills about using technology and computers, language skills, especially English language, disorganized way of learning to mix work problems, family and study time.
These are some of the distance learning advantages and disadvantages. Before making a decision, it is important to weigh the distance learning pros and cons. Though distance learning can be termed as a useful and convenient way to gain knowledge and to higher one’s qualification, whether it would benefit you would entirely depend upon your personality and attitude.
Here we will discuss in more detail about the problems faced by online learners and solutions or suggestions can be followed so that any problems that arise can be resolved satisfactorily. So it is important to identify the problem faced by online learners because without this knowledge, maybe the learners will lose their focus and motivation
THREE MAIN PROBLEMS FACED BY BEGINNING ONLINE LEARNERS
Despite the promises and obvious advantages to distance learning, there are problems that need to be resolved. These problems include balancing the combination of work, family and education, study habits and lack of skills in technology. Each one of these has an effect on the overall quality of distance learning as a product. In many ways, each of these issues relates to the others. This is one of the major problem which will make them think twice before decide to advance their study.
The first problem faced by online distance learners is in balancing the combination of work and education. Most of the open and distance learner usually have many commitments and responsibilities that they must attend while doing their educational goals. Many of them are married, work full time and of course have children. If not carried out, all of this can cause the student drop out from their learning. Job responsibility is already intimidating, let alone the family and the learning, so adult learners have limited time to do their study. The task of balancing all of the above responsibility is truly challenging for most of them.
The second issue is in acquiring go online distance study habits. The students’ everyday environment is very distracting for most of the students. Unlike traditional university students who are always in their learning community which supports them most of the time, online distance students are not. Distractions such as friends asking for night supper and wife demanding to go shopping at the mall every weekend are among other distractions faced by students. Acquiring some time in a day to study is quite a hard task to complete. Online distance learners also have a hard time in being independent and responsible to their own self. Most of the time, there is no one around to monitor the students learning process. The openness of the online distance program gives students the freedom to do their learning process whenever they like but most of the time, procrastination is the culprit. Unfocused view of their learning goals also will make the students act irresponsibly towards their learning.
The third issue is online distance learners also face problems in recognizing and mastering strengths and skills in Information Technology (IT). In online distance learning, technology is the main conduit which information and communication flow. A computer with internet access is usually needed for this process and its application will need the user to master certain level of acquirement. Some of these problems arise from a lack of training, some from the instructor’s attitudes about using the technology, and still others by hardware problems. It seems to be self evident that instructors need to be trained to use distance learning technology, but too often they are not. The student will also need to have some basic writing skills and go online distance command of English language. Unfortunately, not all of the students possess the above skills.
3.0 THREE LOGICAL AND PRACTICAL SUGGESTION ON WAY TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE THE PROBLEMS FACED BY BEGINNING ONLINE LEARNERS
Adults students mostly do not have the luxury of attending college on a full time basis because of their work and family obligations. They often experience problems which, if not overcome, can result in the derailing of their educational goals. There are things that they can do though to help overcome the typical problems that arise.
The first solution is learners must manage and plan themselves effectively in order to balancing work, family and study. They have to apply smart time management. Avoiding procrastinating a must. They must be more responsible and have a focused view towards learning. They must also learn to improve themselves in areas they are lacking ( such as writing skills, computer skills, note taking skills and English language skills) because not all skills will be taught by the tutor. They need to motivate their own self by setting achievable goals and have a positive attitude.
The second solutions are start with less demanding course. There tends to be some challenging courses that must be completed by students, there is rarely a requirement that these should be the first ones studied. Therefore, start with less challenging ones that you find more enjoyable initially so as to build confidence. This assists in getting used to the college atmosphere and the demands of course work again. Furthermore, every student make a study calender to detailing examination dates and assignment due dates on a dedicated calender helps to avoid the rushing of assignments at the last minutes or exam cram sessions. Proper preparation leads to good grades, while inadequate planning results in failure.
The third solutions are make sure that internet access is readily available. Study today is dependent on the internet, forum, e-mail and etc as intermediate communication. The ability to access library databases and complete research online is the basis of succeeding. Also, electronic access eliminates the requirement of spending many hours working on campus, you can study from home instead.
The practical suggestion on way to reduce problem faced by online learners are problem solving skills. It gives the opportunity to develop other useful learning skills such as like practice specific procedures and put theoretical use when develop reasoning abilities and creativity in finding answers. Other method also like develop learners understanding of underlying principles and make research topic in detail. Resolving a study problem may go through the following stages as like review of information. Define problem, relate available information to the problem with design a work plan and methodology and monitor outcomes.
Encourage them to make a strategy for developing their problem solving skills, which could include reviewing their own effectiveness in this area, identifying the main steps of the problem solving process, identifying the criteria against which to judge the standard or quality of outcomes, looking at the problem in different ways, simplifying it, making comparisons with researching information and consulting people to establish critical thinking, choosing and using methods to tackle the problem and taking into account factors that may affect problem solving plans recording information in useful way.
The problem faced by beginning online learners is such as like is in balancing the combination of work and education. Most of the open and distance education students are older, have jobs and families, so they are should know how to manage time properly and which one are the priority. The second issue is in acquiring go online distance study habits. The students’ everyday environment is very distracting for most of the students. Unlike traditional university students who are always in their learning community which supports them most of the time, online distance students are not, so they must should make a study calender so that proper preparation leads to good grades, while inadequate planning can get failure result. Online distance learners also have a hard time in being independent and responsible to their own self. All the student online learners have to solve all this problem with their own way and also have to take more responsibility on their study. The third issue is problems in recognizing and mastering strengths and skills. They must also learn to improve themselves in areas they are lacking such as writing skills, computer skills, English language skills because not all skills will be taught by tutor. So students should find their own alternatives to enhance the skills.
If you know if this entire problem cannot resolve maybe something might happen in the future. For example, online learners maybe will fail with their study or get bad result and waste their money and time to study. As student online learners we should have aim for success in our study. Our goals are for every course participant to succeed, leave the course looking at the surrounding world with the perspective of a scientist, feel confident using science in his or her own learning, and know how to support inquiry-based learning in his or her own classroom.
5.0 APPENDIX 1
With the history of distance learning encompassing so many different learning environments, we need to find a definition that fits in all situations. There have been many definitions put forward in modern literature. Greenberg (1998) defines contemporary distance learning as “a planned teaching/learning experience that uses a wide spectrum of technologies to reach learners at a distance and is designed to encourage learner interaction and certification of learning”. Teaster and Blieszner (1999) say “the term distance learning has been applied to many instructional methods: however, its primary distinction is that the teacher and the learner are separate in space and possibly time”. Desmond Keegan (1995) gives the most thorough definition. He says that distance education and training result from the technological separation of teacher and learner which frees the student from the necessity of traveling to “a fixed place, at a fixed time, to meet a fixed person, in order to be trained”. From these definitions we can see that the student and teacher are separated by space, but not necessarily by time. This would include compressed video, which is delivered in real time. As stated earlier, this type of live video instruction is the fastest growing means of distance learning today. Because of this, much of the discussion here will be dedicated to the promises and problems of this technology.
5.1 APPENDIX 2
The Reality of Adult Learners Online
I was somewhat concerned about the students and the lack of personal attention they would be receiving through my online course. Since I did not know them, I didn’t know their learning styles or cultural differences.
Adult learners in particular have different learning styles and cultural backgrounds, and they may feel they are being left out of learning activities (Baloglu, 2007). Thus, distance learning may cause a psychological, as well as a physical, gap (Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford, 2006). Students may feel lonely, and a lack of face-to-face communication and competition can affect their motivation.
Barriers for adult learners are categorized as situational, institutional, and dispositional. A person’s circumstances in life at any given time are considered potential situational barriers. Different policies and practices may make course participation more difficult are considered institutional barriers. Students’ attitudes about their own abilities to succeed are considered dispositional barriers. These barriers present additional obstacles for adult learners who attempt to obtain an advanced degree (Spellman, 2007).
I found these adult learners, who were teachers, to be motivated and very timely in turning in their assignments and posting on Blackboard. Having them complete assignments that benefited their theses made them even more enthusiastic about completing the work. They all asked questions and sought clarification about things they didn’t understand. They also did an excellent job commenting on the other students’ posts.
By the end of the course, I could see a definite improvement in the content of their article evaluations. I think they were learning from one another.
The adult learners I taught were clearly self-directed and able to be autonomous. They had life knowledge and were goal-oriented. It seems they wanted to see the relevance and application of their education, were practical, needed respect, needed feedback, and had to be interested in the subject matter (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, 2000; Henick, 1994).
The reasons adult learners obtain a post-secondary degree tend to differ from those of traditional students. Adult learners typically want to advance in an organization. An additional degree also makes them more marketable and competitive in the job market and allows them to change careers (Milheim, 2005).