By Sean Scarpiello
As college tuition rates rise more and more many people are searching for new and cheaper ways of educating people. In order to bring cheaper education to more people experts are turning to the Internet. Online courses are slowly being introduced to college campuses across the nation because they are simply cheap. Plus, studies have shown that more information is absorbed by using online programs as opposed to the “old fashioned” classroom learning. Some experts say that the typical college campuses of today will be obsolete sometime in the near future. It is also predicted that online courses will fast track learning so that more people will be able to learn more information at a faster rate. So fast that 4 year college degrees will be compacted into only three years of instruction. Although, there is a lot of hype over this new revolution in college education. Is it going to work?
I think that for the most part it will be successful. However, there are some areas which may not be as successful as predicted. First off, one area where this system may fail would be when it comes to math education. Math is all conceptual learning. Therefore, learning math is much more difficult to learn and teach than other subjects, such as history, which is strictly recall learning. Teaching concepts, in my opinion, would be much more successful if instructors are utilized. Teachers are able to give more examples of math problems, while teaching it in greater detail than a computer. Also, instructors are able to give feedback and help confused students. There are ways to teach math effectively online; however, it is very complex to carry out on a computer.
Another flaw of online education could be its inability to teach proper lab techniques in classes such as biology, chemistry, and physics. This poses a problem because students wishing to enter the science field are expected to graduate college with a lot of lab experience. This lack of lab experience hurts students when applying for jobs after graduation. There are few employers that would hire a science major that doesn’t have any experience in a lab.
This sort of shortfall in online education can also hold true while learning languages. Languages need to be learned by reading, writing, speaking, and listening to the language. Currently, we have the technology to teach many aspects of language, but we are lacking the technology to teach students to fluently speak the language. In colleges, students are able to have conversations in class using the language. To have the same kind of conversation online is just difficult at this point in time. Also, the best way to learn a foreign language is through complete immersion in the language. Online learning simply cannot provide such an experience. Plus, it would be easy for students to cheat during online tests. Students could have a window up on their computer screen like “Google Translate” which can instantly translate a ton of data. Instructors would be unable to monitor this kind of cheating and students just would be experiencing the same quality of education as those who go to class.
Other than these few exceptions online education has a lot of potential to completely revolutionize the education system as we know it. Not only is the future of online education cheaper, but it looks as if it will be much faster and be available to more people, which are all great characteristics.