Can Online Education Replace College?
Education has transformed the world. It has uplifted communities and nations and made people better human beings. Education has had its fair share of the positive impact socially and economically. And now, technology has revolutionised teaching and learning. With the advent of internet and gadgets such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, education has changed. It's now available at everyone's fingertips!
Now, people have a choice, whether they want to be in homeschooled; or opt for traditional learning by going to schools or colleges, or learn online. In the yester years, schooling was fun. It was all about making friends, socialising, exchanging ideas and learning too. Today, there's a huge difference. People want to get as many degrees as possible to make their resumes outstanding. And to attract this kind of group, colleges and universities world over, are providing online education (courses). There is Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) available for anyone, anywhere. All they need is a computer or a laptop and access to the internet.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Initially, it was created for students completely free of cost. As per an article in The Daily Aztec - 'Online Classes Can't Replace Traditional Learning' by Simon Shieh, MOOCs are being offered in various languages such as Arabic, French, Spanish and Chinese. And more than thirty universities have collaborated for a partnership. These courses can be accessed by anyone with access to the internet. Some of the programmes offered through MOOCs are:
Business of Games and Entrepreneurship
- Economic Growth and Distributive Justice Part II - Maximize Social Wellbeing
- Managing Big Data with MySQL
- Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals
- Conflict Resolution Skills
Social Media Analytics: Data should be used to Understand Public Conversations (FutureLearn).
Research and reports showed that millions of students enrolled in the courses. But this has not affected the enrolled into colleges or universities. There's more competition now than ever. Students have more choices. They choose whatever is convenient to them.
Traditional Colleges vs. Online Education
There's no experience like going to college, making friends, sitting in the auditorium and listening to the lectures first hand. Traditional colleges provide the much-needed interaction, engagement and degrees that one wants or needs. There is real time knowledge and relations. A person can choose to attend or not to attend classes and make up for it through tutorials or extracurricular activities. Plus, there are sports, fraternities, clubs and sororities to participate in. Going to college is well, all too exciting. A person's aim is to get an education and ends up being part of a very large family. A network is created.
The advantages of traditional colleges are:
- Facilities: this is great for students enrolled in medical programs such as biology, chemistry, medicine, clinical, and nursing, etc. Labs and libraries.
- Interaction: students get to make friends and communicate with people from different countries, cultures and religions.
- Experience: going to college is a lifetime experience. One gets to study, eat and play as well as study and learn.
- Lifelong friendships: the bond created between people during college days is said to last a lifetime. They remain even in contact after they are done with college.
Some of the disadvantages are of traditional education are that it is expensive; there's tuition, rent and transportation costs to be paid. Parents and students take hefty loans which take years to pay off.
Online education is an alternative to traditional learning. It is cheaper and offers flexibility to the students. Through online courses, a person can save a lot by saving on money needed for relocation and other expenses involved. They can study at their own time and engage in a paying job or be with their family. It's all about choice.
The advantages of online education are that:
- Students can go through it at their convenience (anywhere, anytime)
- Flexibility: students can complete their assignments at their pace.
- Students have to manage time and set personal schedules
- Research highlights that instructors give higher level of feedback to online students compared to traditional students..
- Better access to course materials
- Digital skills: students become familiar with online skills such as search engine optimisation (SEO) and content marketing etc.
- Job focus skills: online courses get the students geared and ready for the job market. Specific skills are taught.
- Keeping up with time: the skills taught online are the latest such as in programming.
The disadvantage of online education is that students cannot question the lecturers or professors there and then. Students do not get to experience the real college that is taking part in sports or fraternities.
Online education cannot replace traditional colleges. Technology makes work easier, but it also has its fair share of drawbacks such as it is not reliable. Computer software needs to be upgraded from time-to-time, and this often proves to be expensive. Different computers and laptops have different platforms. The online course may require a specific platform or software. Sometimes, governments ensure certain websites or order for the withdrawal of internet access due to political differences. This continues for days at a time. Education gets affected. Moreover, online education cannot match up to traditional colleges. The experience provided by both modes of learning is something else and can be stated as incomparable. Plus, colleges provide infrastructure and facilities for both means. There are internet cafes, libraries and labs for the convenience of students' learning. At the end of the day, companies do not look at the mode of learning that one has been through. They look at the certificates and degrees as we.