As technology continues to advance, changes have come in the field of education. No longer do students need to attend a physical classroom, they can take classes online from anywhere as long as they have Internet access. While this sounds ideal, there are challenges in online education that a student needs to consider when they are looking at taking their schooling through a virtual campus.
The challenges are not limited to the student as one might think but to the education provider as well. As a result, they need to make changes at their end to ensure a quality course for their students and to make sure that they are recommended to others.
Challenges for online courses providers
For instance, in a traditional classroom there are concerns about plagiarism but online, the scope for it is much larger. A student has access to many more resources and this includes finding information that has been put on the Internet by students who have taken the course. It is possible that copies of the teacher resources have been illegally put on the Internet and students can find it and cheat on their course. While this does not help the student at the end of the day, it can make the difference between passing a class or not.
Another issue for the teacher is grading their online students. You cannot get an idea from an online course how well the student has learnt the material. Not all students do well on written assignments or exams and as a result, they may not get good grades but they know the material. In a classroom setting, the student likely would be participating in class and the teacher would realize that they know what is going on
Depending on the course, it can be difficult to get the course material written in a way that it is easy for a student to understand. As you cannot see the students faces as they are learning the materials, you cannot tell if they understand or if you need to try to explain it a different way. This can be one of the largest challenges in online education because everyone learns differently and not at the same rate.
Challenges for online courses students
Of course, being a student taking courses via distance is not easy. It is a easier than in days gone by when you got everything with paper and had to mail in your assignments and hope the postal service got them there in time. But there are other challenges in online education to overcome.
One of the biggest issues for people taking online courses is being motivated to the work. It is too easy to tell yourself that you will do it later, that you don’t need to finish it tonight, you’ll have time tomorrow. But life has a tendency to get in the way and tomorrow never actually happens and you are suddenly doing two weeks of assignments in a week. They get rushed and your marks suffer.
Part of the lack of motivation is a lack of accountability. Every online course is different but there are some courses that only require you to write the exam and not submit any assignments. Therefore, students tend to ignore their course work. Conversely, some courses require you to hand in assignments but they do not contribute any marks to a final grade so doing well on them does not matter. It is not too difficult to do an assignment halfway just to get it handed in to move on to the exam.
Lack of individualized learning
For some students, not having a teacher in front of them going over the information can be a challenge. Everyone learns differently but people tend to learn more from listening than they do from reading a textbook or writing down notes. Sometimes there are other local students that they can get together with to work on their course work with but that are a luxury instead of an expectation.
Lack of personal mentorship
Another issue can be the availability of a teacher or tutor to help a student. As it requires more effort to get in touch with someone to help them with a problem, some students may not reach out for help when they need it. Help via email or other text mediums can be difficult as the tone of an email is not always obvious and someone may get discouraged by the wording of a response and not reply back that the answer wasn’t helpful. Even if the tone is fine, an explanation may not make sense to the student but they are too embarrassed to ask for further assistance.
Addressing the challenges
Fortunately, by recognizing the challenges in online education steps can be taken to address them. The tools we use for online learning need to catch up with all these issues. Live discussions can be setup to get some interaction or time to talk to the teacher.
As with any evolving industry, challenges in online education are expected to be minimized gradually with the development of enhanced methodologies and tools.