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Where’s my classroom? A short take on e-learning, virtual learning and open universities

ABIGAIL AZUL gives her advice on what to expect when it comes to virtual classrooms

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13 Aug 2012 Print This Post Print This Post

                                                 Photo: www.photoxpress.com.

    When you say learning environment, the first word that comes to your mind is the school, the traditional one with teachers, classrooms and classmates. But now, as technologies become more sophisticated, the classroom and even the school migrates into a new dimension, the virtual one.

    E-learning has been up for quite some time now and it is usually a computer aided type of learning. This can be done at home or at schools. The Department of Education recently rolled out some e-learning classrooms with the help of NComputing to facilitate student learning in an interactive environment.

    E-learning has been proven effective since it makes students focus because the interaction is one-on-one but still, the software is generic, often visual and programmed to function and respond in a certain way, removing the human element of conversation.

    Another type of alternative classroom setting is the virtual classroom or virtual learning. This kind of teaching and learning may have similarities to other non-school based learning which is the module-based home school or distance learning — but there are a couple of differences.

    First, you get to have classmates because you get to see other users subscribed to the podcast, video stream or on the written discussions (although, I am uncertain if you could converse with them directly with the software used).

    Second, you get to have different teachers here which do specialize in their fields, so you get to have a grasp of the deeper meanings and current events in that certain field.

    Really, it is like a classroom in your computer at home or even while at the workplace. This set-up makes learning easy and reachable to the masses without the need to put up schools and facilities. An example of this is Virtual Campus, an educational portal which is also used by government-run schools and private ones.

    Before finding a virtual school, we might as well discuss the advantages and disadvantages of studying under the virtual world. The advantages are that transportation time, costs and traffic congestion is lessened, it removes the need for suspension of classes during bad weather days, and it is relatively cheaper in theory since there are a lot of miscellaneous fees cut out.

    Of course, there is no perfect setting for learning. The virtual classrooms need a trusty laptop and a good internet connection, a peaceful and conducive place for learning is also advised, there is no presence of other facets such as organizations and athletics, even guidance counselors.

    Using this method of learning, people, especially parents, should assume the aspects that are lacking and must complement it to provide a holistic growth to students — such as enrolling in summer schools or engaging in socio-civic group activities.

    Lastly, I will discuss the open universities that are another alternative to learning. It is similar to the virtual learning environment although the track is more research-based. Locally we have the UP Open University and PUP Open University. However with this set-up, we can choose which university in the world we want to enrol in the Open University Platform and never need to have to spend a lot of airfare and accomodations. There are also open universities from the extension schools of foreign universities such as Harvard and UCLA.

    Open Universities are the cheaper alternatives to the parent school, but the name and the quality does not depart far from its core mission and values. However, there is a stigma that these kinds of universities accept poorly performing students and its students are of lower quality than their counterparts that go to the traditional, physical school (click this link for the debate). But the truth is with the universities’ name comes the culture that goes along with it, something that cannot be learned online. The remedy here is to indicate properly the name of the institution in your resume, indicate the Open University or Extension School.

    Learning now has been more convenient and even crossed vast distances, saving not only time but also resources. Weigh your alternatives, assess why would you want to go to school: is it for the education, the crowd or the culture? Some practical courses are not available online for obvious reasons but they offer graduate degrees for those courses online. Assess also your financial capabilities and which type of education is most cost-efficient for you. Lastly, assess yourself where you think you will perform better and will have a better chance of a good career once you finish your studies.

    People have more options now with the aid of technology. Come to think of if, learning has just become global and we have the world to teach us now.



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