“As teachers and students turn to the Internet, distance learning is dismantling classroom walls across America. ” (Barker, 2000, p. 88) Total computerization entered different spheres of our life, and education is not exception. Many teachers started to use new technologies in educational process. Let’s examine some pros and contras of new technologies in comparison to traditional education. Long-distance internet learning is not very new event. Long-distance learning is popular and is used for many years.
One of the new directions is TV-learning, but it is also has experience of dozens years. Nowadays it seems, we feel “virtual fever” of long-distance learning thanks to internet. Free access to internet with help of modems and cable influenced increase of internet users. The first of known inventions in new educational technologies are “internet books”. You can find a lot of libraries and electronic versions of lectures and student’s textbooks in internet, which is easier then to go to the library or to buy a book.
Software developers which create educative programs for children understand that computer games are more interesting than studies. Children’s education, combined with interesting game, where children play several stages of difficulties, seemed to solve all problems. Attention of children is concentrated on subject; we face high efficiency of education, training of reaction… this list we can continue easily. But nevertheless, taking into account all pluses of computer games, this model cannot be used in all fields of education, its usage is limited by definite user group – children.
Such education is more interesting for children, than traditional learning, where the not always has wish to give interesting information for children and limits himself by “interpretation of lectures”. Different educative programs are very effective and are used during lectures. Software programs help to control work of students during lessons and provide good system of examinations. Computer can be also used as control of knowledge, way of self-education, illustrative resource and way of organization of laboratory practices – all these new technologies make life easier.
Because of quick development of modern technologies, educative systems, based on web-technologies, became popular. Lectures, which are prepared beforehand, are sent via internet network. Still, there are several “pluses” and “minuses” of internet distant learning. There are three reasons of great interest to such learning: – There is necessity on simple true information. – There are technologies to satisfy this necessity and those technologies will be only perfected in the nearest future.
– All spheres of activities examine internet long-distance learning as new important market, and therefore, as possibility of business activity. With every passing year number of people, who need special type of education in order to have possibility to work full-day, is increasing. Only in USA they spend more then 200 milliard dollars per year for additional education and more then 50 milliard dollars for qualification. Many politics in USA consider internet learning as very perspective kind of education, because it can suit all people and it costs less, then traditional model of studying.
Besides, you can choose definite courses, i. e. to receive education “by order”, which also can be called an advantage by price in comparison with existing model of traditional education. Universal access by less price – this is a stimulus for persistent work of all organizations, which present services for such type of learning. Stanford University, for example, offers approximately 25% of 200 courses in internet. Different universities use internet very actively.
“On one University’s Web site, distance education may be a part of continuing education; another University may place it in the education department; yet another may house it in the School of Education. One may also find distance education in community education, extension programs, non-traditional education, distance learning, or student services”. (Falk, Rehman & Foster, 1999, p. 23) In addition to economic factors, such form of education supposes increasing of number of non-traditional students, for example, elder people or already working people, or pregnant women.
It is easy to understand that by such individual approach people are ready to pay for possibility to study in the place they chose and in tempo they need. Still, there are some “minuses” of internet learning. Nowadays two main factors influence development of long-distance education: access to internet and quality of connection. There are also people who don’t have access to internet, because either they don’t have it at all, or place, where they can get access, is not equipped for learning process.
In many places access to internet is possible, but work in internet can cause inconvenience to other people, or on the contrary- other people will bother a student to concentrate. By opinion of Stanford University students all those problems really take place. Another minus is that during traditional education teachers know their students and can control the process of education easily. Usually till the end of term they already know approximate level of each student and know their results. When student learns via internet, sometimes it is difficult to know, who, actually, is studying.
Also a student contacts a “real”, “alive” teacher and doesn’t feel lonely, whereas during internet courses he doesn’t know actually, who his teacher is (sometimes it causes desire to leave the study even). So, it is important to “individualize courses to minimize the number of dropouts” (Howell, 2001, p. 87) Some term papers can write another person, who is more educated, in order to get better mark. The important thing is also discipline. “Distance Learning students must be self-motivated and self-disciplined. A degree of compulsiveness is often a vital characteristic of the successful on-line student.
The freedom and flexibility of the on-line environment require personal responsibility, tremendous commitment, and discipline to keep up with the flow of the process”. (Uhlig, 2002) Another problem is that distance learning should be interactive. Students must have possibility to communicate with their teachers. When we analyzed internet learning, we found that in most cases communication is limited by internet mail with teacher and other students and possibility to serf the internet site. Traditional education is much better at the moment, but in the nearest future the situation will change drastically.
The students can communicate with teachers easily and can ask questions they have, immediately. The whole process of study is easier. Already now teachers recommend university’s web resources for student’s access. For example, they have calendar of class sessions, virtual office hours, “chat” rooms, video and movie clips, “live” computer programs, etc (Lewis 1998, p. 16) As for future development of technologies, maybe the programmers create such program which will allow teachers to develop their consequence of small educative modules.
In this program teachers are able to control process, when a student enters educative program, educating materials (slides, multimedia presentations, browsers at student’s computer) and also other things which are necessary for education process, for example, board of announcements, library and, of course, the students. Students could attract attention of their teacher by rising of “electronic arm”. Majority of those ideas will be brought into life in the nearest future. And now we can speak with sure that new technologies in education are in demand, and so they will be developed.
When a person has some definite aim, and he needs knowledge for its achievement, he can get the knowledge not only by traditional methods, but also by new technologies. And the knowledge will not be worse then knowledge, received by traditional education, but maybe even better. New educational technologies are very perspective and will give better possibilities to people in getting education they want.
1. Distance Learning and the Web: Are Advertising Programs Missing the Target? (Journal article by Louis K.Falk, Dawn Foster, Sharaf Rehman; International Journal of Instructional Media, Vol. 26, 1999) 2. “Anytime, Anyplace Learning“(Journal article by Bruce O. Barker; Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy, Vol. 15, 2000) 3. Untangling the Web: Applications of the Internet and Other Information Technologies to Higher Learning by Matthew W. Lewis, David J. McArthur; Rand, 1998 4. The Present and Future of Distance Learning by George E. Uhlig; Education, Vol. 122, 2002 5. Elements of Effective E-Learning by Dusti Howell; College Teaching, Vol. 49, 2001