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There are advantages and disadvantages to distance education at three levels: institutional, teacher and student.

 

Benefits

Costs

Institutional

  • No more constraints on time and space for scheduling.
  • Can maximize monetary resources
  • Can reach a larger audience and more diverse, from greater geographic regions.
  • Decreases overcrowded classrooms---can offer more classes at peak demand times of the day and week.
  • Can more effectively communicate
  • Increases size of enrollment, so it makes it harder to effectively serve students
  • Lab space
  • Choose the appropriate software and hardware
  • Student with lower-income are harder to recruit and reach
  • Takes time for faculty, students to learn technology
  • Periodic upgrades, regular repairs

Faculty

  • Help train students for using technology well (will serve them well in career)
  • Interactions through technology
  • Collaborative work easier because relative anonymity provides for more open discussions
  • Flexibility and control can lead to higher motivation
  • More active, student-centered teaching
  • Less time-consuming, can focus on other parts of the job like research
  • Difficult to motivate students and help them when they’re so far away
  • Difficult to start because they have to learn new technology and make a new, different curriculum
  • Communication expectations (information overload)
  • Greater structure needed
  • Need to only use written communication and visual, no body language, etc.
  • Tough to grade online materials and time-consuming, so it makes some teachers lazy
  • Difficult to find cheating
  • Technological difficulties with dispersing information and receiving assignments

Students

  • Can eliminate misunderstanding because no verbal miscommunication, only written communication
  • Universal mediums
  • Flexible for times or locations
  • Less costs because no parking or transportation, only basic educational fees
  • Less peer distractions
  • No worries about biases because never meet students/teachers
  • Can work full-time and go to school easily
  • Promotes fair treatment
  • Crosses cultural barriers
  • Easier for students with special needs
  • Helps practical skills for the job market like time management, technology skills, critical thinking skills and problem solving
  • Not everyone has access to the right technology
  • Usually have to pay a technology fee
  • No face-to-face interactions, so some things may take a long time to become clear
  • Need patience for technological difficulties
  • A LOT of online communication may be overwhelming
  • May require more work than other courses because there is less time in lecture
  • Requires more self-motivation, self-regulation, less reliance on other students
  • Impromptu questions are not answered, delayed feedback
  • Non-verbal communication eliminated
  • Cost may be higher because of computer and  software PLUS textbooks, but no costs otherwise



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