Documents
Resources
Learning Center
Upload
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Distance learning: Problem, Effect and Benefit

VIEWS: 71 PAGES: 12

Distance learning is rapidly becoming pervasive in every aspect of education. Today’s information technology enables self-paced learning with some degree of distance from teaching professionals. Higher institutions sometimes begin this online delivery system without fully examining the academic soundness of this approach. Other considerations are administrative matters involving the hardware, software, and service needed to execute the new methodology apart from regular traditional based classroom, and most importantly, the impact on the students and instructors.

More Info
									               Distance learning: Problem, Effect and Benefit
                             Mohd Saleh bin Haji Idris



1.0    Introduction


       Distance learning is rapidly becoming pervasive in every aspect of education.
Today’s information technology enables self-paced learning with some degree of
distance from teaching professionals. Higher institutions sometimes begin this online
delivery system without fully examining the academic soundness of this approach.
Other considerations are administrative matters involving the hardware, software, and
service needed to execute the new methodology apart from regular traditional based
classroom, and most importantly, the impact on the students and instructors.




2.0    Problem and purpose of the study


       The process of converting a traditional classroom course into a course taught
through other media such as CD-ROM, video conferencing and the Internet involves
many issues. Although the technology of distance learning gets most of the attention,
it's really teaching strategies and style which have the most impact on the quality of
learning in distance programs. Facilitating learning communities at a distance requires
some new approaches to the practice of managing the teaching and learning process.
Effective faculty start with a completely new mind set about where technology fits into
the equation. Rather than struggling to make up for qualities distance programs are
perceived to lack when compared to traditional classrooms, faculty members who are
most successful with distance technologies see them as actually providing some
qualitative advantages.


       One of many differences between traditional classroom courses and distance
delivery is personal, physical interaction, with the instructor and with fellow classmates.




                                            1
What effect does this have on learning outcome? This study identifies issues and
concerns, which must be considered to develop a successful distance delivery course.




         This study has a purpose of providing the student with the best possible scenario
where learning outcome will be maximized is the goal of course development. This
applies to distance learning course delivery undergoing in Open University of Malaysia
(OUM) as it is today.


3.0      The Study


3.1      Methodology
         The purpose of the questionnaire was to identify the issues and concerns
students have about distance learning. There were 12 questions focusing on the
following areas:


      1. Demographics
      2. Importance of interaction with instructor
      3. Learning outcome
      4. What group of student benefits most from a distance education course?
      5. Why does a particular group benefit?


         The questionnaire was administered during monthly class session via convenient
sampling to one Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) class in Open University of
Malaysia (OUM) Bangi branch campus. The survey was piloted to a specific group of
students consist of 12 male and 13 female.


         Of the 25 questionnaires handed out, 22 were returned, an 88.0 percent
response rate. The questionnaire was based on answers to qualitative, and four point




                                               2
interval-scaling questions. (See Appendix 1 for an example of the questionnaire
administered).




                                       3
4.0   Summary of Findings


4.1.1 Demographics


      A total of 22 questionnaires were returned. Of this total, 10 respondents were
female (45.0 percent) and 12 were male (55.0 percent). Out of that, 16 respondents
were married (72.2 percent), 5 respondents were single (22.7 percent) and 1
respondent was a single parent (5.1 percent).


      14 respondents were in managerial and administration positions (67.0 percent), 2
were in non-managerial and administration (9.0 percent) and 6 were self employed
(24.0 percent) All the respondents were Bachelor in Business Administration students in
Open University Malaysia (OUM) Bangi branch campus.


                            Chart 1: Class Demographic




                                           4
                     Chart 2: Student’s Employment Background




                                   Self
                                Employed, 6              Managerial
                                                             and
                                                       administration
                          Non-                          positions , 14
                       Managerial
                           and
                      administration
                       positions , 2




4.2.1 Interaction with Instructor


       Survey questions also concerned about student-instructor interaction. The
questionnaire addressed the importance given to student and instructor interaction,
which affects how well students learn. The implied definition of interaction was direct
physical interaction like that observed in the traditional classroom. Communication via
e-mail and chat rooms could have also been interpreted while face-to-face interaction
with an instructor during regular office hours was also considered interaction.


       Survey shown that there was a primary choice for “it is very important to interact
with instructor” with 19 out of 22 (86.3 percent) responses. The second most responds
are “interaction with instructor in se veral ways” with 3 of 22 (13.7 percent).




                                              5
      On question on how “these interactions have a great effect on learning
outcome?” stated that 14 of 22 respondents (63.6 percent) interviewed have agreed that
these interactions had a great effect on them; while 6 of 22 (27.2 percent) respondents
had chosen that there interactions were effective in several aspects of their learning
processes.


      Only 2 out of 22 (9.09 percent) respondents interviewed had agreed that these
“interactions were effective but not necessary”. See Chart 3.




                             Chart 3: Effect of Interaction




                                            6
4.3.1 Learning Outcome


       Examined next is the effect on learning outcome (success in the classroom) by
interaction with and by the physical presence of an instructor. Four questions dealt with
this issue.


       The results (Chart 4) showed that 19 of the total 22 (86.3 percent) felt that
interaction with an instructor would have an effect on learning outcome. For physical
presence alone, 3 respondents (17.0 percent) felt that it was not necessary for success
in the classroom. Yet, 18 respondents (83.0 percent) indicated that physical presence
affects their success in a class.


       The last two questions dealt with instructor presence and self-motivation. The
majority of respondents out 19 out of 22 respondents felt they would learn less if they
were not self-motivated and instructors were not present. Over 50 percent of students
stated they would learn the same if they were self-motivated and the instructor were not
present.




                                           7
                        Chart 4: Effect of Learning Outcomes




4.4.1 Benefits


      Identifying who benefits most from distance delivery and why they benefit was
examined in the next set of questions. Respondents were asked to respond with
multiple answers in relation to each question. For who would benefit most, a total of 17
responses were made with “full-time worker attending classes” being selected (77.2
percent).


      Respondents were also asked to answer whether they had ever had any
experience with a distance education course. Of the 22 responses only 6 respondents
(27.2 percent) answered yes. Respondents who had experience with distance
education had more concrete suggestions and comments directly related to delivery of a
course via distance delivery than those who had none.




                                           8
                          Table 1: Who Will Benefit the Most?


No                         Categories                                   Responses
1                           Executive                                        2

2                       Full-time worker                                     17

3                        Self employed                                       2

4                            Others                                          1



       At the end of the survey, respondents were asked to comment on any concerns
that they might have on distance education which were not included in the survey
questions.


4.5.1 Comments and suggestions on distance education which were not
       included in the survey questions.


       Concerns and suggestion column in the last part of the survey included feedback
to students regarding work completed, honesty of students(s), lack of organization,
technical issues, lack of hands on experience, and instructor accessibility for student
questions. Many respondents liked the idea of distance education and mentioned the
possibility of no longer having to revolve their life around school hours.


       Others commented that it would not be a good idea for many people who are not
self directed or self-motivated and need to have interaction through the classroom.




                                             9
5.0   Conclusion


      The goal of this study was to identify issues and concerns that Open University of
Malaysia (OUM) Bangi branch and Bachelor in Business Administration programme
students have with distance education. An issue identified was interaction with an
instructor. Respondent responses showed this to be very important for learning.


      When developing a distance delivery course, institutions must provide a way for
students and instructor to interact. Possible approaches suggested by respondents
were chat rooms, a toll-free number, and regular physical meeting in a classroom. On
the other hand, respondents who had experience with distance education mentioned
the confusion involved with chat rooms and the ineffectiveness concerned with a
physical meeting.


      But they also stated that these could have been effective had they been
organized and implemented in a better way. Classmate interaction is also important.
The sharing of ideas helps in the understanding of the course material. In this survey
students did not state any ideas about possible means to accomplish this interaction.


      Another issue identified was that distance education does not work for everyone.
Through the questions involving instructor physical presence and self-motivation, most
respondents felt that without self-motivation the success in a distance education course
would not be good. In other words, the respondents believe that students who would be
best suited for a distance education course are ones who are self directed and self-
motivated. This leads to the questions involving who benefits and why. The list of
choices provided for who benefits were people who had other responsibilities in their life
besides school such as work and family.




                                            10
       What does this have to do with self-motivation? For adults with other
responsibilities, time is a precious commodity and self-motivation determines how well
available time is managed. One possible concern with this study was that majority of the
respondents were male and all the respondents were mostly working adults. However,
this is fairly typical of the demographics of current Open University of Malaysia (OUM)
students. If the study were done with students from another educational institution, the
results could be different.




                                           11
REFERENCES


      Buckley, Francis J. (2000) Team Teaching: What, Why, and How? Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.


      Dringus, L.P. (2000). Towards Active Online Learning. A Dramatic Shift in
Perspective for Learners. The Internet and Higher Education, 2:4, 189-195.


      Edie K. Schmidt and Ana Galle, Distance Learning: Issues and Concerns of
Distance Learners in Journal of Industrial Technology Volume 17, Number 3 - May 2001
to July 2001


      Hiola, Y. and Moss, D. (1990). Characteristics of Distance Learners at the
University of Terbuka (Open University) Indonesia. Distance Education 11(1): 116124.


      Paloff, R. M. & Pratt, K. (1999). Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace:
Effective Strategies for the Online Classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.




                                          12

								
To top