DEFINITION OF DISTANCE EDUCATION Distance education aims to deliver a quality university education to students who are not able to be physically present on campus. With flexible study options, you can study from home, work, or anywhere in the world, at a time that suits you and your lifestyle.
BENEFITS OF DISTANCE EDUCATIONThe advantages of studying by distance education allow you to:• change or enhance your career prospects wherever you are - rural, metropolitan or overseas• fit study around work, social or family commitments. You can even study at home in your PJs!• vary your study load to suit your schedule -• develop and demonstrate your autonomy through self-motivation and self- direction of your degree• be included in university life through contact with other students through online learning environment, residential schools and through direct contact with your lecturers via the forum, email or by phone• have time to review your study materials without having to rush off to the next class.
BENEFITS OF DISTANCE EDUCATIONAs a distance education student, you:• can study wherever, whenever and whatever you want. Its your choice• dont have to worry about being at lectures and tutorials at times that may not fit in with your lifestyle• have the convenience of course materials being delivered to your home or office• usually study two subjects per session, with each subject needing around 8 - 10 hours of study per week• have both full-time and part-time study options often available so you can vary your study load to fit in with your schedule - from one subject per session to four or five.
DISTANCE LEARNING DISADVANTAGES:Lack of social interaction. If the classroom environment is what you love mostabout learning you may want to take a step back and reconsider distancelearning. You’ll likely get some interaction on chat rooms, discussion boards andthrough email, but the experience will be quite different than traditional courses.Format isn’t ideal for all learners. Not everyone is an ideal candidate for onlinelearning. If you know you have problems with motivation, procrastination andneeds lots of individual attention from an instructor you may want to think longand hard before enrolling in an online learning program.Some employers don’t accept online degrees. While a majority of employerswill, there are some who still see a stigma attached to distance learning. Realizethat your online degree may not be the ideal tool for some job fields or for futurelearning.
DISTANCE LEARNING DISADVANTAGES:Requires adaptability to new technologies. If you’ve never been one to loveworking with technology you will probably get a lot less out of an online coursethan your more tech-savvy counterparts. Make sure you feel comfortable workingwith computers and with online programs before you sign up for a class.Not all courses required to complete the degree may be offered online. Itmakes sense that more practical majors like nursing aren’t offered entirely online,after all, part of the degree is learning to work directly with patients. Find out allthe requirements of your degree to see what may need to be completed offline.
DISTANCE EDUCATION EVALUATION METHODSOne of the most important tasks that an instructor has is to develop evaluationmethods to assess how well students comprehend the topics presented in classand in textbooks. There are several approaches for evaluating your studentsgrasp of topics taught in your classroom. Tests and Quizzes Projects and Presentations Essay Learning Games
TEST AND QUIZES Developing tests and quizzes is one of the most effective means to gaugehow successful your students have been at learning the materials assignedinside and outside the classroom. Create your own tests and quizzes or usestandardized tests and quizzes provided by your department. Although a multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank answer can demonstrate a students ability to memorizeinformation like names, dates and other facts, this may not be ideal when youwant students to understand how historical events have far-reaching andcomplicated ripple effects in todays world.
PROJECTS AND PRESENTATIONSAssign projects or presentations on topics covered. Develop an assignment sheetwith different topics from which students can choose. Students will appreciatebeing involved in the assignment selection process -- it could mean the differencebetween demonstrating how white carnations can change colors and creating asimple battery from a lemon, a penny and a dime. However, use this method onlyfor lessons that dont require comprehensive knowledge. After all, while studentscan choose assignments that play to their strengths and interests, they canneglect unwanted projects and presentations that seem tedious. Still, thepotential for learning exists because every student will see a demonstration on adifferent topic and each should absorb that presentations information.
ESSAYTeachers want students to have a comprehensive understanding of manylessons, such as American history. (For instance, the student should know whena battle occurred, what started it, who fought whom, and the impact of theskirmish, such as effects still seen today.) An essay question will allow a studentto use his analytical abilities to give a long-form answer in his own words,demonstrating that he can summarize the topic well. Essay answers ensureteachers know how well students understand the material.
LEARNING GAMESUse engaging learning games to assess younger students information retention.For example, for a second-grade classroom in which you have been covering thethree branches of the United States government, create a felt-covered chart thatdepicts a tree with three branches on it. Find news images from the Internet thatfit with each branch. Print them out and affix Velcro on the back of each image sothat it will stick to your chart. Ask students to help you decide on which brancheach image should go. Images should include a judge, U.S. presidents andCongress members. For elementary-school children, attire alone -- such as ajudges robe -- should signal hints.
ASPECTS AND CRITERIAS TO EVALUATE IN DISTANCE EDUCATION These criteria are recommendations for concrete measures for dealing withthe problems and issues identified at an evaluation of distance education level.1. Material/content2. Structure/virtual environment3. Communication, cooperation and interactivity4. Student assessment5. Flexibility and adaptability6. Support (student and staff)7. Staff qualifications and experience8. Vision and institutional leadership9. Resource allocation10. The holistic and process aspect
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