The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)
Edited by Daniel Schugurensky
This site includes questions and answers on Adult Education that were written by students in the course 'Outline of Adult Education' at OISE/UT. The questions are first raised in class by the students themselves. Then they organize in teams in order to research and answer them. New entries are added regularly. This website is intended to provide information about the field to new students and to those who have a general interest in Adult Education. Anyone is welcome to submit a question and/or answer.
By Laurie Clune and Cirene D’Monte
education offers students improved accessibility to learning materials,
throughout the world. On-line education eliminates barriers of time and
distance, and can offer content that is not country specific, thus enabling
educators and knowledge providers from anywhere in the world to participate. (2,
4) On-line education also learners the flexibility of participating at any place
and time that a computer is available. Class
is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can accommodate busy schedules.
(1) On-line education also eliminates the hassle and expense of travel, parking,
childcare, and other incidentals of physically attending a class. (1)
distance classes encourage interaction among participants, which plays a key
role in the participation and success of the student. (4) On-line technologies
such as audio/video-conferencing, e-mail, and virtual classrooms enable
interaction with other students and facilitators/instructors.(1) The setting
encourages collaborative learning that is otherwise unavailable in distance
courses. (1) A virtual environment also provides anonymity, which prevents
discrimination based on factors like age, appearance and race. Attention is
focused on the subject matter at hand and in the ability of the individual to
respond intelligently to the topics of discussion. (4) Furthermore, it
eliminates the authoritarian role of the instructor, and puts students and
instructors on a more level ground. Students engage more readily with each other
and with the course materials when their learning is in their control. (3)
for New Learning Opportunities
via the Internet promotes learning about Internet. (2) Not only will students
have equal access to information within the course, they will be able to
transfer their Internet skills, and the information those skills make available,
to their personal and professional needs. Such new learning opportunities can be
intertwined with the presentation of the material itself.
Assignments can be designed to involve the use of the computer to access
Internet based tools, to explore supplementary information, or to discuss issues
with other students or the professor. (5) Computer interactions can also be
designed so that students utilize and refine their cognitive. (5)
Because of the nature of interaction, students’ written communication
skills are developed and improved.(4)
on-line environment can provide instant feedback.
Tests can be graded and returned electronically to learners within hours;
and on-line quizzing and self-assessments can provide feedback immediately (1),
thus displacing control of pacing from the course or instructor to the learner.
Learner often find their instructors guide their learning as opposed to
delivering the content, and the learning process is directed by each learner to
suit their needs.
education is more than the acquisition of content. There is a social component of learning, both inside and
outside the classroom. Outside
the classroom, there exists a sense of community in campus life. In the classroom, dialogue promotes oratory skills,
debate, articulation and justification of one’s viewpoints and the development
of listening skills. It
allows for immediate feedback from peers on one’s views so that clarification
and perspective transformation can occur.
Non-syntactic communication, such as body language, voice tone, passion
for the discipline, respect and emotion, are lost when face-to-face interactions
are not available. Professors also
lose the visual cues and immediate feedback when their students are confused,
interested or bored.
are unable to participate in on-line learning, if access to the Internet is
unavailable due to financial limitations, server malfunctions, or computer
failure Students may also not have
the knowledge and skills of how to navigate e-mail, browsers, download software
or trouble shoot hardware. The
continual evolution of computer technology can make systems obsolete in short
periods of time, and students will have to assume the financial burden of
upgrading to remain compatible with the educational institutions.
Limits the Capabilities of Instructional Methods
learning environments present limitations and restrictions in instructional
methodologies. If testing is a
component of the course work, there is no way of ensuring that the student
taking the examination is the enrolled participant. While multiple choice questions may give the
learner immediate indications of success or failure, written responses must be
submitted for feedback. This may
delay the learners’ in proceeding to subsequent modules of the program. While the ability to surf the Internet does allow the
learners to conduct research easily, students can just as easily digress, lose
focus of the learning objective and spend large amounts of time on “nice to
know” rather than “need to know” information.
Eliminates Protected Time for Study
attending a traditional class, our families, employers and society see this as
protected time for study. On-line
course are not regarded in this way. The
flexibility of on-line learning also allows for procrastination when the
challenges of everyday life intrude on study sessions.
on-line format is not suitable for all learning experiences, and it should be
viewed not as a solution, but as an alternative delivery method.
In planning an educational program, one must determine the important
elements and objectives of the course, and then decide how distance education
may be used, either wholly or in part. A
responsible instructor should be aware of these and other advantages and
disadvantages, how to capitalize on the advantages and counterbalance the
disadvantages to meet the learners’ needs.
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Last updated on September 04, 2002.