Distance learning can be defined as a form of education where learners can learn wherever they are through the use of technology. Distance learning faces some challenges. The main issue is the quality of the instruction. The instructions which reach the students attending distant learning classes really matters.
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It sometimes depends on the attitude of the students to the instructor. In most cases instructors fail to make the lessons in synchrony with the available technology (Horgan, 1998). This makes the lesson lack preparedness and therefore do not deliver what is intended to the students.
This might be a result of the attitude of the instructor while teaching. If students have a negative feeling about the instructor then they may not learn much. It makes them to lose interest on what the instructor is trying to pass to them.
Distance learning is quite expensive and lacks eye contact which is very important in effective learning environment. According to Howard (2004), the instructors are not able to read the emotions of the students which make it difficult to meet their needs. The concern of the student is one of the key points to consider.
It has been seen that the students of distance learning lack the spirit of motivation and therefore their performance is not as good as those attending live instruction classes. The students are less participatory in the topic of discussion and so they may not fully master the topic being addressed as reported by Palloff & Pratt (2000).
The instructor should always try to be lively as possible and respond to the questions asked by the students (Oliver, & Carr, 2009). In this way the students will have an interest in the class and therefore they will have more concentration. Most of the times the instructor of open learning do not pay special attention to the attitude they have while teaching while it is a crucial factor (Imel, 1998).
They may answer questions rudely and therefore making the students lose interest and concentration on the topic that is being addressed. This will therefore lower the performance of students who are earning through distance learning since they may not even have morale to attend the classes. It is very important for the instructor to be careful on the attitude they impose to the students.
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The most important issue is whether the distance learning is cost effective or not. This is the question which should be looked into in order to effectively deliver a good quality education. Distance learning is relatively more expensive than face to face classes.
This is because of the technological requirements associated with distance learning. The hardware needed is quite expensive. Although there is the cost of the instructor traveling in the other type of learning that is the live instruction it is still cheaper than this mode of learning.
The equipments involved in distant learning are also complex and therefore need at least two technicians for every center. The cost of paying the technicians adds up to the high cost of the hardware. The technicians should also be trained to use the equipment hence incurring training costs (Zepke, 2005).
The general attitude towards distance learning is negative. The instructor should be confident enough with the technology being used. But In most cases the instructor are no very conversant with the distance learning equipment and they fear failure. They do not trust the devices which are being used in the teaching and transmission process.
They should therefore be well trained to tackle the issue of confidence. The learning greatly depends on the effectiveness of the instructor (Tormey & Henchy, 2008). Normally learning should be a collaborative and participatory process. In this type of learning the students are put a part by technology. They do not feel the sense of community and togetherness.
They do not meet and share ideas like in the case of live instruction learning. It is therefore the work or objective of the instructor to instill the sense of collaborative learning in the students. They can achieve this by involving the students in participatory lessons whereby the students learnt to share ideas and feel the sense of communal work though learning.
Oliver & Carr (2009) argued that distance learning should substitute face to face classes. They say that the technology should be used to bring people or rather students from different cultures and backgrounds together for them to share ideas in learning and their social live.
Even though distance learning lacks eye contact among students and the instructors, instructors are not able to observe the emotions of the students because of lack of the eye contact. This hence makes it almost impossible to address the student needs which are expressed through their emotions.
The instructors should always be striving to create a learning environment that supports collaboration among the students. Despite all these problems distance learning has positive impacts to the students.
It makes them be independent and responsible in that they learn to manage their time efficiently (Moore, 2007). This is because there is no close supervision. It also makes the students more focused and works with group members from diverse backgrounds.
Horgan, B. (1998). Transforming higher education using information technology: first steps.
Howard, C. (2004). Distance learning and university effectiveness: changing educational paradigms for online learning. New York: Idea Group Inc (IGI).
Imel, S. (1998). Myths and realities of distance learning. Columbus, Ohio: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. Ohio State University. (Eric Document Reproduction Service No. ED 414 446).
Moore, M.G. (2007). Handbook of distance education. New York: Routledge
Oliver, M. & Carr, D. (2009). Learning in virtual worlds: Using communities of practice to explain how people learn from play. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(3), 444–457.
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Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2000). Making the transition: Helping teachers to teach online. Paper presented at EDUCAUSE: Thinking it through. Nashville,Tennessee. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 452 806).
Tormey, R., & Henchy, D. (2008). Re-imagining the traditional lecture: an action research approach to teaching student teachers to ‘do’ philosophy. Teaching in Higher Education, 13(3), 303–314. doi:10.1080/13562510802045337
Zepke, N. (2005). Diversity, adult education and the future: A tentative exploration. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 24(2), 165–178.