The impact of technological and scientific progress on human lives is a topical issue in the modern society. Moreover, educational technology constantly changes. In fact, modern courses provided by the educational establishments of different levels often incorporate online coursework to some degree. The current paper will argue that online coursework is in most cases better than traditional one. Moreover, it explores different reasons supporting the claim. Regarding various aspects of education, it is necessary to take into account that contemporary institutions mostly involve three parties – students, educators and educational managers or administrators. Finally, the paper will prove that online coursework can offer a number of benefits for all involved categories of participants.
Online Coursework: Advantages and Benefites
Students belong to the category that experiences the most significant benefits. The advantages of incorporating online coursework are likely to make the classes more harmonious and efficient. In fact, Leonard claims that untraditional methods of education “encourage more, are more varied, student participation, since students who do not normally speak in class often do contribute to networked discussions” (77). However, the assumption does not mean that online coursework is beneficial only in case when student tend to have more introvert behavioral patterns. On the contrary, extroverts can find plenty of different opportunities to express their ideas in the online format. Many courses that successfully integrated online components into their structure offer various forums aimed at creating fruitful discussions. They also allow students new ways to enjoy creative work, such as making videos, presentations, etc.
The second argument to support online coursework is that it corresponds to the new lifestyles that characterize the behavioral patterns of young people. For example, many students use mobile devices, have a very active way of live and would like to learn “on the run”, which can be possible only in case of online coursework. Educational technologies must be closely interrelated with the lifestyles of the main customers, which comprises of individuals mostly in their twenties and thirties. The age group is active, and they fully integrate the achievements of the modern technologies into daily activities. Thus, giving them more online coursework will make a significant contribution to increasing the effectiveness of their studying. Students feel more comfortable in the situation they are accustomed to, such as surfing the Internet and operating various educational software programs, which further supports the pro argument.
According to James and Chen-Lin Kulik (89), students learn faster when receiving computerized instruction; also, they like classes more and develop positive perception of technology. The results are proved not only by other researches, but also by the leading universities that provide online type of activity for students. Such establishments as Harvard, MIT, University of California and others demonstrate that their students are able to receive higher grades if the amount of online coursework in their curriculums is increased. Landry writes, “The amount learned is somewhat greater than in the traditional lecture-based course” (n.p.). The most significant reason is the improved cooperation and communication between professors and students and the ease of access to the course material even from the remote places.
Another significant advantage of online coursework is the improvement of attitude of the employers towards the online degrees in recent years. Therefore, the level of social approval for online degrees in general and elements of online coursework in particular is higher than earlier. For example, in 2010 the research by Society of Human Resource Management indicated that seventy-nine percent of companies employed a candidate with an online degree in the past 12 months. It can be caused by the fact that many of the employers personally experienced some elements of online education during their studies in colleges and universities. Therefore, they are able to judge the level of knowledge obtained with the help of modern technologies in a more objective way.
Another stakeholder in the discussion is educators, who may also benefit from using various elements of online education. Interned-based educational technologies offer professors a large variety of ways to make their course interesting and exciting for students. Traditional in-class activities cannot offer the same level of effectiveness to the contemporary students. In fact, the usage of old methods makes integrating such elements as video and interactive quizzes, into the lesson difficult and in some cases even impossible. At the same time, the aforementioned activities have become an integral part of the human life in recent decades. Thus, depriving the educational process of online elements is unlikely to have any positive impact on the quality of knowledge. Besides, online coursework allows educators to take psychological aspect into account.
For example, in many online activities, the lectures are split into smaller segments, usually no longer than 15 minutes. The approach allows students to maintain the maximum level of concentration during all the time while they listen to the information offered by the professor. Through using online lectures, the professors can be sure that the course material is properly understood, as they give students a chance to listen to the lecture as many times as they need.
In addition, online coursework can be implemented with the help of different educational Internet platforms that offer quality services acknowledged by many specialists. For example, Person Online Education or other similar networks may significantly simplify the process of preparing online work. Thus, it allows educators to spend more time improving the quality of their teaching. The educators have to fulfill a number of duties that are sometimes only indirectly connected to the learning process. It makes their life rather busy and does not leave enough time for professional development. Moreover, the bureaucratic aspect seems to have a colossal impact on the quality of education. The more time professors spend on improving their professional knowledge, pedagogical skills and career profile, the better education the students get. The modern world changes quickly as new information appears every day; thus, keeping up-to-date is important skill for educators. The increased percentage of online elements in the courses would allow instructors to dedicate time to their professional improvement. As a result, all participants of the educational process would benefit.
Students and educators are not the only stakeholders in the process of education. Administrators and managers are the professionals who make a great contribution into the organization of educational activities, their planning and execution. Therefore, their needs should be evaluated. It is necessary to study the benefits of online education for school administration. Renn and Zeligman argue that new educational technologies, including online learning, have motivated university managers to respond to the changes (547). Despite the fact that new forms of teaching require additional work at the initial stages of implementation, they offer administrators a chance to monitor the quality of the course and the progress of students. Moreover, they can receive feedback very quickly. Thus, online platforms will enable institutions to organize the functioning of the educational program or establishment in a more effective way.
One of the most difficult problems that administrators in the educational sphere face is how to grant access to materials and courses for all students, regardless their age, location and personal preferences. Online educational technologies are one of the best ways to solve the problem. They are a brilliant opportunity for life-long learners to cooperate with younger students that sometimes becomes difficult in the real life due to differences in age and lifestyles. In most cases, the intergenerational communication improves with various online courses that can be accessed via different platform like. One of the popular examples is Edx.org that was co-founded by the American leaders in the sphere of online courses – MIT and Harvard. Taking online courses is not the only option for life-long learners. The administrators can also plan the increase online components in the traditional courses, thus granting more mobility to the students. Consequently, the schedule of students would be more flexible, so more working adults can find a suitable regime for continuing or improving their education.
The administrators should also monitor and control the quality of the courses offered by university or college. Basing on the market analysis, they have to stipulate the areas, where the demand grows, and focus the effort of the educational establishment on providing services in the sphere. The information obtained through research can also influence the curriculum of the courses adjusting them to the current situation. Online education allows administrators and managers to fulfill the quality assurance duties with more efficiency. Moreover, the process of monitoring the educational sphere is rather easy and cost-effective. Many educational platforms, like the above-mentioned Pearson or WebAssign, offer various methods for gathering important statistical information. Educators and administrators can use data to understand the mechanics of some particular course, and as a result, improve the quality of the educational product.
Thomson dedicated his research to discussing various issues of the modern educational philosophy. The author argues that American education has formulated new aims for the participants of the educational process. He names the following practical goals that should be of the major concern for managers and administrators – “worthy home membership, vocation, citizenship, leisure, health, command of the fundamental processes, ethical character” (Thompson 65). In fact, the joint efforts of educators and the administrative staff are needed to make modern education meet the contemporary goals. Despite the perceived simplicity, they require a wide range of work to be done to make the process of educational modernization faster and more effective. Online educational technologies may be of significant help in achievement of future goals. For example, via offering students more mobility and a chance to adjust the coursework to their lifestyle, the aims connected with leisure and health could be met. Thus, administrators can offer in their institutions services that are not only a source of good professional knowledge, but also meet long-term goals that are extremely important for the development of modern education.
To conclude, online coursework can offer a number of significant benefits for all participants of the modern educational process, including students, educators and administrators. The advantages make online education or traditional education with online components more effective than classical forms of in-class studies. Internet-based courses become increasingly important in the recent years when modern technologies are successfully integrated into all spheres of human life. Therefore, education should keep pace with other spheres of social activities and offer students various opportunities of using online coursework if they find it more convenient and effective.