I think, naturally, that there is a dichotomy in most peoples’ minds between the quality of traditional, book-based education in schools and that of newer online instruction--but is this separation really merited? I argue that it is not. More and more, schools which still continue in-classroom education are moving toward online instruction, yet there is a stigma as to the quality of online instruction when compared against traditional methods of learning.
Online instruction, as opposed to what you may be inclined to think, doesn’t necessarily replace book-based learning, but it does greatly enhance a student’s experience by offering supplemental materials and up to date content that books or CDs simply cannot. Still being a student myself, I have been lucky enough to experience the educational system both before and after the emergence of online resources.
For example, while studying Japanese, I had the pleasure of receiving a book this year through my class which was accompanied by an online component. Aside from everything I would learn inside of the class time and through the text, I was also able to log in to the book’s website and watch videos or print off supplementary materials that pertained to the subject matter. Being able to access any of these materials at any time soon opened the door to the best semester of Japanese instruction I’ve had yet. There is only so much that can be absorbed during a few hours a week of instruction, but being able to, at my leisure, interact with what I’m learning gives me that much more motivation to do it.
We all know a more motivated learner is also much more receptive to what he/she is learning, so it follows that creating an environment in which the student feels most comfortable is the most conducive to actual retention. This is where the popularity and effectiveness of online learning lies, and is precisely the reason that interactive methods of learning are quickly becoming the favored method of many educational institutions.
Have you had any experience with online learning, whether in school or on your own? Do you prefer learning by the book or by the bookmark?