The development of technology caused a significant change in the area of education. The information age is mainly characterised by a mild transition from classic educational programs to virtual training and online courses. Although online education has some disadvantages as it requires more self-discipline from a student, it has definite benefits because of a possibility to select a more flexible schedule and convenient environment for studying.
Reasons for Selecting Online Courses
With the expansion of information and communication technologies, many students received a chance to study without a time and place constraints. It is stated that a combination of Internet and computer has created a new method of learning oriented to students’ needs, which is considered as mainstream now (Talebian, Mohammadi, & Rezvanfar, 2014). Over the past decade, many scholars contributed to identifying the reasons for selecting online courses by students.
Jaggars states that the majority of students emphasise “flexibility and convenience as key reasons to take courses online; moreover, a handful of students preferred the learning environment of online learning” (2014, p. 28). It should be noted that most of the students who participated in this case study were in their thirties and had a job and a family. This fact leads to the statement that necessity of lifelong learning due to the constant demand of improving professional skills influences the ways and methods of studying provided nowadays (Freitas, Morgan, & Gibson, 2015).
Online courses abbreviated as MOOCs usually are provided at no cost and include access to extensive online material and interaction for a huge number of students. Nevertheless, some studies based on the analysis of such criteria as age, sex, occupation, and education stated that only a half of the students who applied for an online course finished it successfully (Yukselturk, Ozekes, & Türel, 2014). The majority of dropout students was in their twenties and evidenced that they were not ready for this experience, lacked prior knowledge, and never had an online course before. Thus, it is possible to say that such advantages as time efficiency and flexibility, as well as preferences in learning and interaction, influence the decision of choosing online courses, especially in the group of middle-aged students.
Tools Used for Online Courses and Blended Learning
Some scholars suggest combining asynchronous and synchronous tools and using chats, video conferences, and webinars to achieve a maximum effect in online learning (Oztok, Zingaro, Brett, & Hewitt, 2013). These methods might improve an effect of presence for students. It is also suggested to broadcast and record professors’ lectures for remote students. Still, most students prefer the so-called blended learning and mix online courses with face-to-face ones. For example, some studies revealed that “teacher candidates prefer to regularly attend online and face-to-face courses in blended design” (Saltan, 2016, p. 71).
Benefits of Face-to-Face Courses
It is emphasised that face-to-face courses are often selected for specific subjects because it is believed to be more effective in mastering the material and receiving motivation and communication. Some researchers note that “student performance is a multidimensional concept; successful completion of a course, course withdrawals, grades, added knowledge, and skill building are among some of the aspects” (Ni 2013). Thus, in some cases, face-to-face courses are capable of providing more knowledge due to an instant feedback, practical studies, discussions, and communication with professors. Still, online courses are selected as preferable for many general subjects, especially by the students who already have some basic education.
Although online education has some disadvantages as it requires more self-discipline from a student, it has definite benefits because of a possibility to select a more flexible schedule and convenient environment for studying. Informative technologies are widely used in education sphere nowadays and help people in their middle ages to enrich their knowledge. Furthermore, some studies prove the convenience and cost-effectiveness of online exams (Tan, Lee, & Kang, 2017). Therefore, it is expected that the practice of online courses will be further improved in the future to provide the students more benefits according to the requirements of the modern world.
Freitas, SI, Morgan, J & Gibson, D 2015, ‘Will MOOCs transform learning and teaching in higher education: engagement and course retention in online learning provision’, British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 455-471.
Jaggars, SS 2014, ‘Choosing between online and face-to-face courses: community college student voices’, American Journal of Distance Education, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 27-38.
Ni, AY 2013, ‘Comparing the effectiveness of classroom and online learning: teaching research methods’, Journal of Public Affairs Education, vol. 19, no. 2, pp.199-215.
Oztok, M, Zingaro, D, Brett, C & Hewitt, J 2013, ‘Exploring asynchronous and synchronous tool use in online courses’, Computers & Education, vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 87-94.
Saltan, F 2016, ‘Blended learning experience of students participating Pedagogical Formation Program: advantages and limitation of blended education’, International Journal of Higher Education, vol. 6, no. 1, p. 63.
Talebian, S, Mohammadi, HM & Rezvanfar, A 2014, ‘Information and communication technology (ICT) in higher education: advantages, disadvantages, conveniences and limitations of applying e-learning to agricultural students in Iran’, Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 152, no. 1, pp. 300-305.
Tan, CK, Lee, KW & Kang, HC 2017, ‘Advantages and challenges of implementing electronic-based exams in university courses’, International Journal on E-Learning Practices (IJELP), vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 103-115.
Yukselturk, E, Ozekes, S & Türel, YK 2014, ‘Predicting dropout student: an application of data mining methods in an online education program’, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 118-133.