By: Jacqueline Foster
Online learning has made it possible for people to earn a degree who could not otherwise fit a college education into their busy lifestyle. Online courses also give the traditional student more options for how he/she wishes to go to school so they can choose a path that fits best with their learning style. However, even though online learning has opened many doors, it still has certain limitations when compared to campus-based learning. Here we’ll explore some of those limitations.
Technology Helps and Hinders
While modern technology makes it possible for online courses to be delivered at all, it can create limitations. For instance, a simple overloaded server or any number of other technical programs can keep students from accessing their courses or communicating with one another when they need to, the Illinois Online Network pointed out. Online colleges have done their best to mitigate concerns over these issues by offering 24/7 tech support and having qualified tech staff on hand to tackle any server issues.
Another technological concern is access. Even in today’s modern world, not everyone has access to a computer that they can use whenever they need to, and not everyone is computer-savvy. Those who do have computers may not have one that is up-to-date enough for their college courses. Also, sketchy Internet connections in remote areas can be a hindrance.
Overall, however, the technology involved with online learning is more helpful than harmful. Course management systems allow students to access their lectures and courses at any time of the day or night and conversations among faculty and students are facilitated through online discussion boards. Students even have remote access to college library materials through their computers. So while technology can at times be a barrier, it is most often an asset.
Distance Learning Isn’t for Everyone
Many students find it difficult to accomplish their goals with a minimal amount of accountability. This is why some students fare better in traditional college courses where they see their instructor and classmates every day. It gives them something tangible to commit to. Not all students have the self-discipline to ensure they’ve accessed all of their online classes and finished their assignments in a timely manner without that physical classroom component.
Some students, however, are very independent learners. They have no trouble using the available online lectures, textbooks and other course materials to learn on their own and communicate any questions via email or instant message. So while online learning can be difficult for people who require face-to-face interaction, it is still an excellent option for self-disciplined, independent learners on the go who would rather not make the drive to a college campus.
Hands-On Classes Can’t Be Taught Online
Despite anyone’s best efforts, certain courses just can’t be taught online. For instance, while didactic courses for a nursing program (e.g., anatomy & physiology) can be taught online, nurses in training must complete their clinical training (e.g., learning how to start an IV, working with patients) on a campus or in a hospital setting.
While acknowledging these limitations, it’s still important to note that a broad array of classes can still be taken online, and that hybrid classes also exist to limit the amount of time a student must spend on campus.
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