offering new tools for information and communication in all fields of life and education is no exception. Internet has brought about a new possibility that never existed before in the history of mankind: face-to-face learning from a distance!
Distance education in the form of correspondence courses has been with us for some time but we know that it was not as valued as traditional courses in the job market. With the advent of new technologies like web conferencing, videoconferencing, web-based VoIP, interactive whiteboard, etc. distance education is becoming closer in its experience to the traditional classroom and prospective employers take it more seriously than before.
figures for online courses indicate that future is heading in this direction. A third of all the students enrolled in postsecondary education in the
in year 2011 had taken an accredited online course.
A key advantage of this option is its flexibility in terms of time, geographical location, age, and physical condition of the student. Adults and differently abled students find this option a blessing for them. It offers them the opportunity to build knowledge in a dynamic and collaborative way within the confines of their ability.
Distance education surpasses barriers of time and space, as it allows the students to organize study time according to their availability, regardless of where they are. Moreover, the online knowledge is divided into blocks or levels of knowledge, thus respecting the level of development of each person.
There are three key elements that act as facilitators with the new technologies:
Dialogue: communication between students and teachers in the virtual learning environment is a key aspect. Face-to-face interaction, now possible with web conferencing, has made this on par with the dialog that happens in a traditional classroom.
Participation: students have the opportunity to ask questions in real time, do solving activities, and interact with other participants to share their individual takes on the subject.
Autonomy: autonomy is related to independence and
responsibility. These are the features expected from a student of online education. It is the responsibility of the student to become familiar with the technology used and how to utilize it effectively to better organize schedules and self-manage the education process.
Anyone with an interest in the subject and capable of individual effort and participation can enjoy the flexibility offered by distance education option without compromising on collaborative aspects of learning, as it has matured as a viable educational option now.
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