Since the time of its creation and popularization, online learning has attracted the attention of both users and researchers alike. From aviation to history or from clinical social work to agriculture, online education grants the possibility of perceiving information in an entirely new format, different from traditional learning techniques. Appraising these approaches, however, requires not only study but also examples that are rooted in various industries.
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E-learning: Advantages and Disadvantages
The research of Arkorful and Abaidoo aims not only at exploring the different meanings and implementations of internet-based learning but also presents its advantages and disadvantages. Among the presented and unrefuted positive aspects of internet-based education, the authors highlight the flexibility of information perception, its self-pacing nature, and its accounting for the individuality of student approaches to learning.
Arkorful and Abaidoo conclude that online education “adoption… has increased faculty and learner access to information” (36). In this article, the negative factors do not affect the conclusion process, despite them being mentioned in the research. The authors’ appraisal of online education is exclusively positive, despite the authors presenting seven beneficial and eight detrimental aspects of e-learning.
Online Education Challenges and Benefits as Specific to Clinical Social Work
The paper by Jones also attempts to assess computer-based education through an analysis of three social work courses: interviewing, symptomatic evaluation, and senior-specific interactions. However, this article is immediately more cautious in nature, with Jones stating that “we must not underestimate or overestimate the potential of online social work learning of direct practice skills” (234). Jones touches upon aspects of required infrastructure and resources, which include the need for defining work quality, preparation of necessary materials and equipment, and briefing those who will be interacting with the prepared courses.
In her eyes, these present at the same time both the positives and negatives of the process, since the cost of preparation attempts to balance against the quality of material provided. Jones, therefore, calls for a rational approach to online education, highlighting the fact that while internet-based learning does retain a multitude of positive factors, it cannot replace hands-on experience.
Regional-specific Information and Communication Technology
Talebian et al. draw a completely different conclusion, applying their research not only to a different sphere of education but also to a different country. Considering the specifics of studying agriculture in Iran, the authors, as in the past two cases, present the positive and negative effects of computer-based learning. The crucial moments of their research center on region-specific issues: limited computer literacy, low bandwidth, and the online monopoly of the English language, which makes many materials unavailable for Farsi-speaking users.
However, Talebian et al. do not deny the positive effects of information and communication technology (ICT), which include but are not limited to high-quality materials, flexible availability of information, and facilitated access to education. Effectively, the researchers conclude that “educational effectiveness of ICTs depends on how they are used and for what purposes” (Talebian et al. 304). This research is not a negative appraisal of internet education, but it effectively displays its major drawbacks in unprivileged environments, which result in its continuing lack of possible implementation.
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Thus, having considered three published articles on Internet-based learning in different countries and about various fields, it is possible to conclude the positive effect of balanced online education on students. However, the limits of computer-based instruction remain hard to overcome, with innovation leaving underprivileged students on the periphery of change. Thus, for an efficient application of e-learning, it is necessary to consider not only faculty-based costs but also the availability of resources to students, as well as the appropriateness of an at-a-distance education.
Arkorful, Valentina, and Nelly Abaidoo. “The Role of E-Learning, Advantages and Disadvantages of its Adoption in Higher Education.” International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, vol. 12, no. 1, 2015, pp. 29-42. Web.
Jones, Sally Hill. “Benefits and Challenges of Online Education for Clinical Social Work: Three Examples.” Clinical Social Work Journal, vol. 43, no. 2, 2015, pp. 225-235. Web.
Talebian, Sogol et al. “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) In Higher Education: Advantages, Disadvantages, Conveniences and Limitations of Applying E-Learning to Agricultural Students in Iran.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 152, 2014, pp. 300-305. Web.