Education has played a significant role in our daily lives and has been a valuable asset for every human in understanding the events taking place everyday. Through education, we learn new ideas, came up with new inventions, able to bridge the gap between cultures, raised our standard of living and modernized the world. The rapid growth of technology and the internet revolutionalized education with the development of online education or e-learning.
This mode of education has attracted several learning institutions, instructors, and students alike that the number of schools/universities simultaneously adopting e-learning with onsite education has been increasing annually. Several people support online education due to its flexibility and convenience, however, there are still some people who opt for classroom attendance rather than e-learning.As education has improved the way we live and has lead us to a more technological-dependent world, learning institutions should encourage and support online education especially among the working adults who lead a hectic lifestyle and wants to further their careers and those juggling their time between family and work. Online education does not only save time and costs for students, but also can provide a way for online students to manage their schedule without having to disrupt family and work responsibilities.
Critics have argued that there is a lack of personalization in online education which will have negative effects on the educational and social aspects in the student’s lives. Due to the absence of face-to-face interaction with instructors and students, online learners feel isolated because there is no physical interaction between students and instructors as well as a lack of oral communication skills that is usually occurring in a classroom education.I totally do not agree with this argument because communication technologies such as chat rooms, discussion boards, conferencing and bulletin boards have provided a way for students and instructors to interact with each other. In fact, online interaction provides students from different countries to forge friendship across borders and learn new cultures. It also enhances student’s knowledge through the exchange of different ideas and information.
Communication skills can also be engaged in an online education through the use of audio quipments and softwares and hence, a diverse actual interaction through videos and audio technologies can be in par with a physical classroom attendance. However, I do not agree that online learning should be encouraged on grade and high school students as these students are still on their formative/learning phase and they require social skills and physical interaction with students/teachers to mold their character and guide them in their education.Onsite education is the building block of pre-university students and should be maintained and supported by schools and instructors alike. Hence, I would say that online education should only be encouraged to adults because they already have the necessary educational foundation and are matured enough to deal with virtual interaction as well as online education. People who are against online education claim that e-learners are not good in critical thinking because of the absence of discussion board interaction which is a dominant feature in a classroom environment.The lack of physical discussion in e-learning restricts the student to think open-mindedly and limits his abilities to communicate effectively in finding out solutions to complicated problems.
In my opinion, I do not think that both types of education differ in critical thinking skills because online students have already the necessary technological resources to interact with people all over the world. When a student is left alone to study, the tendency is that the student will search and try to engage his thinking skills into action.This was supported in an analysis conducted by Newman, Webb & Cochrane in which they asserted that “Online learners have more responsibility to engage themselves in the learning process than students in face-to-face courses since a classroom instructor can literally pull them into a discussion. ” Usually, online students are self-directed and take control of their own studies which enable them to concentrate and think deeper through evaluation and analyzation. Their initiative to study with minimum tutor guidance can, in the process, develop their thinking skills due to the challenges posed by studying independently.They have to develop critical thinking skills to understand and analyze the information available to them, choose and reflect the correct materials and course content by themselves, solve complex problems and make the right decisions.
As concluded in a research on the critical thinking subject by a US professor, Dr. Ellen Derwin, “there were no significant differences between face-to-face and online learners. ” A third criticism about online education is the lack of self-discipline, in which students perform better in the traditional learning method.Unlike a traditional class in which specific times are set, students are compelled to keep up with the tutor and submit assignments on a specified deadline, while online education let students set their own schedule, and hence, has the tendency to procrastinate. I do not really agree to this criticism because discipline is a characteristic of a student and not as a result, or specific, to online education.
A student who does not possess this characteristic or who does not know how to manage his time is prone to procrastinate even in a traditional classroom environment.Procrastination is a human behavior which requires discipline on the part of the student. However, I do not think that procrastination plays a role in the performance of a student in an online environment because a student’s performance is based on his knowledge about the subject. Though a student might postpone doing a task until the very last moment, a student’s performance depends “on the student’s talents and capabilities, not on the proximity to the deadline that the work is performed. The same can be said in a classroom setting in which students who do not have self-discipline may postpone doing an assignment until the deadline is near but can still have high academic performance just like an online student.On a study of the effect of procrastination on academic performance on online education, it was determined that “a negative relationship was found between procrastination and performance, and this relationship was mediated by the level of the learners' participation in discussion forums.
Hence, students can still perform well even when they procrastinate. The remarkable development of education from classroom to online education has not only helped adults in securing higher education and job positions, but also has opened our minds to wider opportunities and possibilities that online education can offer with the help of technology. Online education has shown that people can interact with their instructors and other students beyond its own borders, and increases one’s knowledge as compared to a classroom setting.Moreover, online education has demonstrated that students develop critical thinking skills when they take account of their own studies and in fact, stimulates the thinking skills of the students. Lastly, the notion of procrastination which has been linked with online learning does not have any bearing on a student’s academic performance, irrespective of whether it is an onsite or online education.
In conclusion, elementary and high school students should continue with the traditional classroom attendance while adults should be encouraged or given the option of online education, whichever fits their lifestyle.The rapid changes and challenges in this technological world have triggered instructors and students to expand their knowledge and seek ways to re-invent education. “To cope with the demands of the 21st century, people need to know more than core subjects. They need to know how to use their knowledge and skills - by thinking critically, applying knowledge to new situations, analyzing information, comprehending new ideas, communicating, collaborating, solving problems, making decisions. ”