Distance learning constitutes the use of technology or other teaching methods in offering education to people, mostly individuals, who are not physically present in the normal learning environment such as a school or a classroom. Many universities globally have embraced this teaching method due to its advantages that lie both with the institution and with the individual. Similarly, many people globally have greatly made use of this technological advance in the learning system. However, many issues surround this topic, with debates dwelling on whether distance learning jeopardizes the quality of education.
Distance learning did emerge with the increase of computer/internet use. It is traced back to 1728 where an advertisement was seen in one of the issues of Boston Gazette indicating that a teacher (Caleb Phillips) was willing to send weekly lessons to students who were willing to take short hand (European Commission 5). By sending the notes/lessons, some of the other activities engaged during a traditional learning lesson would not be present. For example, the one-on-one question and answer sessions would be avoided. Verbal questions can be understood better as compared to writing the questions down. The bodily expressions also tell a tutor a lot about individuals, which enable the tutor to know how to handle individual students. The physical absence of either party may therefore play a major role in deteriorating the quality of education that will be given to a student.
Developing and developed countries portray major differences when it comes to technological advancements. While a great part of the population in the developed countries access the computers and the internet even when in the up-country or the rural areas, the greater part of the population in the developing countries are unable to access the internet and the computers especially when in the rural areas. Most remote areas in the developing countries are underdeveloped. In such areas, accessing the materials to be becomes a challenge therefore; persons are left with the option of using either cheaper material that are of less quality thus coming up with poor quality work (Chaudry & Rahman 196).
One might argue that the above named disadvantages are from a developing country’s perspective. The learning taking place in developed countries is of good quality and of significance in today’s world. Although this is true, it also significant to understand that learning in physical groups is a significant process in the education system. The exchange of ideas, the discussion, the argument/debates over important topics and the presence of other individuals that are either similar or different from each other is part of the educational system (Chaudry & Rahman 200). Most distance learning programs do not offer these opportunities. Some learning institutions may offer a common site where different people taking the same course through distance learning may offer their ideas or responses. However, this process does not make the same impact as the physical group discussions.
Distance learning has its many advantages. However, the quality of education should not be put at risk in the process of getting as many people as possible to be educated. The social setting provided by the traditional learning system adds other life skills that cannot be impacted through the distance learning. The research papers are not only done from an individual perspective, but they are also discussed by other people who will be able to critic the work. Education is not only supposed to bring knowledge to an individual. It is also supposed to add one with life skills, whether they are alone or in a social setting. One should not only read to pass the exams, but he/she should be able to use the knowledge received outside the classroom. Distance learning should be reviewed as far as the quality of education is concerned.
Chaudry, M.A, and F.-U Rahman. “A Critical Review of Instructional Design Process of Distance Learning System.” Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education. 11.3 (2010): 193-205. Print.
Distance Learning. Luxembourg: European Commission, 2002. Print.