With the decision to attend a distance course through the Internet, a whole new experience of learning is opened up. Assuming the school chosen has an excellent academic curriculum, and the professors are experienced and competent, the distance education should be a smashing success. How successful can a new or returning student to online education expect to be?
According to studies done at the teacher educating department of a West Georgia University, it depends on the level of interactivity designed into the particular program. The extent of student interaction is an important factor in student performance on tests, resulting grades, and overall satisfaction with the learning experience.
Getting Students Involved
At the most basic level, interactivity with educational computer-based media has to do with exchanges between the media and the student. This is better known as feedback, and can be given by the media itself, but is more often a reference to the educator.
With distance learning, attaining high interactivity between the faculty and the student, which is comparable to a face to face lecture, seems unlikely, but studies show it happens.
According to a decade old study by Miller and Webster, the level of interaction of several programs, was judged to be roughly the same. The study noted the design of the curriculum, and method of delivery, were helpful in creating a high degree of interaction. Additional studies by researchers found that well-designed courses could even create a higher level of interaction than a traditional classroom setting.
The Internet Advantage
A distance course offers the student and faculty multiple methods of contact, including email, real time lecturing, and live question and answer sessions. Many classes allow students to follow the professor through a live video stream today, as well.
Educators have an opportunity to provide superior service to their students through unique curriculum design, and timely feedback. This same level of personal attention is often difficult to achieve when giving a lecture in person.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of participating in a distance course is the flexibility. With very few exceptions, classes are given live, and then archived to allow students to visit or re-visit the lecture anytime they need to.
Online education is not just advantageous for student-teacher communications, but also for student-student interactions. Many programs emulate real world working environments by requiring students to collaborate on projects, resulting in skill sets that are immediately applicable upon finishing the program.