Guest post*: Online learning issues we have yet to resolve

Online learning, or e-learning, is becoming an increasingly popular way to earn a degree.

The convenience of learning from one’s home computer, not to mention saving money on transportation, room and board, etc., is attracting an ever-larger number of students each year. Adult learners, who are often tied to familial and employment obligations, find this an excellent way to obtain a degree.

486px-Douglas_Engelbart_in_2008The idea of online learning was first promoted in 1962 by Douglas Engelbart, who published an important paper, ‘Augmenting Human Intellect: a conceptual framework‘, which proposed a system for remote learning. Engelbart and his colleagues at Stanford University went on to develop computer and communications systems that paved the way for the inception of the Internet.

While an attractive alternative to traditional college and university programs, online learning has its lingering disadvantages, such as:

1. Institutions and businesses are still wary
They’re not sure about the level of education received by those who have earned degrees online. With some top-flight programs now available, this is not always a warranted concern. Colleges and universities are now putting more resources towards their online learning programs, thus providing a quality learning experience for their students. The stigma remains, however, because of fly-by-night online degree schools and the somewhat checkered distant past of online learning in general.

Berlin2. Limited exposure to fellow students has long been an issue

As the online learning student is isolated at home, there’s no give-and-take with others. With new conferencing applications and websites, online learning programs are slowly finding a way around this, but the process can be more cumbersome than streamlined single-student interactions.

3. Interruptions by friends and family members can prove a hindrance to learning

People don’t seem to recognize the importance of concentration when the student is at his or her computer, listening to a lecture or taking a test. In a classroom environment, the insular bubble that’s created prevents interruptions from happening. At home, this is not the case and some online students, desperate for privacy, run to libraries and Internet cafes in order to do their work. This impinges on their convenience and can become bothersome.

4. Not all subjects lend themselves to online learning

If the student wants to earn a degree in physical therapy, for example, they’ll definitely need a hands-on program. Same is true of many other subjects where human contact, laboratory work, or other location-specific tasks are essential.

mess5. Perhaps online learning’s most vexing problems are those of a technical nature

Let’s say a college’s server is down or the student’s neighborhood is suffering from a black out when the student has to deliver an important paper before a deadline. Disaster! It’s crucial that both the student and the university has equipment that’s up to the task.

6. Some students do not possess a high enough level of computer proficiency

In order to successfully conduct their online study, students need to be comfortable doing a wide range of things, such as surfing the internet, sending emails, setting up a web chat, commenting in forums, and taking online exams. For some students, there is a large learning curve just to handle these things, so it may lead to confusion with tasks and deadlines often ending in frustration or, even worse, failure.

Online learning may be a good choice, but be sure to seek out unbiased assessments to ascertain an institution’s level of commitment before applying and signing on.

Joyce-Del-Rosario-243x300* Our guest, Joyce Del Rosario, works at, a platform where hiring and working remotely is made simple. When not working, she engages in photography and event planning at Del Rosario Events. Aside from that, she also has a heart for writing.

photo credit: Spree2010 via photopin cc

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