The Digital CLASSROOM

Abstract:

With higher education and an enviable degree just a click away, we explore the merits of this escalating trend of online education and its popularity among the young and the employed

Main Article:

Ours is the digital era, where shopping malls are swanky fashion websites and friendly rendezvous a ‘like’ and a ‘post’. As a generation that cannot eat, breath or sleep Jacobwithout the World Wide Web and its umpteen perks, we are today on the brink of a lifestyle revolution. In this day and age the virtual world has swiftly seeped into our reality and lifestyle to an extent where a sound internet connection has become a staple necessity and the books have been replaced by digital documents. With e-learning being the wind of change in the education sector, it is estimated that this 56.2 billion worth industry is on its way to double in value by the wake of 2015.

WHEN IT'S A BOON

With the concept of online education a.k.a distance learning programs picking popularity among young students, working professional and aspiring entrepreneur, the education system is being slowly yet efficiently modernized. But, many academic pundits still believe that the classroom set-up is the most effective manner of education though for the new-age student the means of distance learning is becoming more lucrative. For aspiring professionals who can’t wait to make their corporate debut and want to venture into the job arena as early birds, the prospect of online education is more convenient, flexible and probably the only option. The number of students enrolling to learn online has tripled over the last decade. And to keep up with this demand the number of online education avenues has increased manifolds as well. Such drastic hike in statistics is indictor of the fact that online learning option is soon going to be considered in par with the conventional method of learning.

|

Among the various perks that put online education over the typical kind of college education is the flexibility it provides – the flexibility of time.

For those whose lifestyles include dwindling between work and study – distance learning is the best option. For management students who are looking to merge study and work, online learning serves exactly that as while taking up a course online a student can simultaneously gain work experience as well. For working professionals who are looking to upgrade their academic qualification, online courses offer the luxury of studying without having to take a sabbatical from their corporate obligations.

|

Unlike regular college schedule, studying online would mean 24 hour access to study material and classes. A student can choose to attend a class or revisit a previous lecture for clarification without having to take an appointment with the concerned professor or to wait for the next class. The flexibility to study whenever and from wherever is one of its most luring advantage.

Contrary to the belief that online education does on inculcate interpersonal style of teaching, many universities today offer online tutorial, mentoring and online faculties. These privileges allow a student-centered teaching pattern where every lesson or teaching session is designed exclusively for a student. A student would get to interact with the concerned faculty directly. Each course and lecture is tailored keeping in mind the temperament and learning capacity of the student. This feature offered by online education defeats the conventional method of classroom learning where every student has to undergo the same manner of learning irrespective of how good or bad their grasping capacity be.

A post graduate degree from a fancy B-school in the country or abroad can result in a big dent in your pocket. But with distance learning option these costs are literally cut into half. Apart from the tuition fee being fairly lesser than the original package of a traditional B-school, online learning also offers savings as there are no additional cost incurred due to facilities like accommodation and transportation. Also, for aspirants who want a degree from a foreign university but don’t have the time and money to invest in it, distance learning is an apt option. From the comfort of their homes, students will get to attend lectures by some of the most prolific educationist in the business world.

|

|

Also, many college offer and encourage multicultural interaction opportunities between students from all over the world. A broader outlook at the globe market is made possible from the confines of your home.

Extensive usage of technology and multiple media formats is an extremely effective educational method. Online learning supports both asynchronous communication as well as real-time communication. Asynchronous communication means the inclusion of Email, newsgroups and threaded discussion groups for the purpose of teaching and learning within the classroom. This method is said to be effective as it inspires self-reflection and deeper learning and also keeps all the students in a common loop. Regular group messages ensure that every member from this learning community is updated and constantly informed about upcoming lectures and assignments.

According to a report produced during the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Leadership Summit distance or online learning is touted as the ‘21st century education’. Another fun fact about e-learning is that it is considered as the most eco-friendly means of education. According to the study conducted by British Open University, online education consumes 90 per cent less energy than that of the traditional means of education. Also, according to IBM, organizations that inculcate the means of e-learning formats have the capacity to boost their productivity by a whopping 50 percentile.

|

When it’s a bane

Though the thought of attending your lectures in your pajamas might be a tempting idea, don’t be too quick to judge and leap. Online education, as many educational veterans claim has its own set of shortcomings. While many top B-school in the world are going viral to meet the new-age student’s demand, crème-de la-crème of universities like Harvard are still to commit to this online trend. Old school belief of inter-personal interaction between the pupil and the tutor is still believed to be the most effective mode of education by these believers.

|

So, while deciding whether to opt for online learning or the traditional nature of education, analyze if or not you need a direct contact with your peers and teachers, because with online education one-on-one interaction in a physical space might not be possible. Most of the learning happens in the digital space and thus the student has no connect with neither their teacher not their classmates.

Online learning calls for a lot of self discipline and the ability to self motivate. With no physical supervision and no one to watch over you, it solely depends upon the learner to develop a study pattern. Learning model varies from person to person and if a strict classroom schedule and a time table is the only means to help you keep up with your assignment then online education is not your cup of tea. Time management is a crucial factor, along with flexibility comes the chance to procrastinate. So, for those who need a constant nudge of motivation and folks with likewise schedule in order to study and complete their assignment, the traditional college set up is the best call.

Fluent usage of technology and being well-versed in all things computer related is a must for those wanting to trend on the online route. In the online avenue, the learning medium changes as text formats replace pen and paper. Along with a sound internet connection, a good computing device such as a personal computer or a laptop is required to stay connected. So there is always the risk of technical snags and system failures that can hamper the progress of your classes or assignments. The knack to communicate well and efficiently online is a must-have quality.

|

As for the means of video conferencing or chatting with their online teachers or peers, a student must be equipped with sound inter-personal as well strong communication skills. And thus, for the shy and introvert folks, online medium might become tedious. If you are better at expressing yourself in person than via text or email then the online channel might not be your call.

Apart from being alienated during lectures and classroom sessions, online learning also causes isolation when it comes to extracurricular activities and recreational clubs. On-campus students have the advantage of interacting with peers and creating intellectual community while the online folks are devoid of such perks. Isolation caused due to online education, where the student is left to their own devices can seriously affect communication skills and even cause stage freight among few. The habit of being a socially isolated entity will make that individual more vulnerable in social setups and also affect their corporate behavior in the long run.

Though the universities that offer online education claim that interacting with world class professors and learning in diverse formats is a possibility only in their medium, many educational mentors still believe that an online teacher can never measure up to a real time professor. The lack of a personal relationship and the impossibility to contact them in crisis is a substantial deal breaker. While the online professor can be reached via email and video conferencing, the immediacy of contact becomes impossible. Also, there is the lack of sensitivity in the student-teacher bond, which according to many is an essential academic experience.

|

Many of these professors also argue about the digital teaching pattern, they claim that online lecture often tend to become monotonous and repetitive. The patterns are more or less the one-size-fits-all kind. Though acquiring knowledge via online classes is possible, gaining an all-round education will not be.

|

A student- teacher bond is essential; as both of them need to understand the temperament of each other to create a collective learning enterprise, where both of the parties involved will benefit.

The quality of education in totality is often questioned when it comes to online learning. Though many recruiters have started recognizing the validity of online degree, it still isn’t considered in par with traditional degrees. Also, lesser availability of specialization is also a matter of concern among students and aspirants. Limited course offering might be a hindrance for those looking out for specific experience and education. Tailoring lessons and courses is possible only when the professors personally know and understand their pupil, a facet not possible in the online medium.

Top Rankers

Although the inception of such online study avenues is fairly recently, it is still essential to do your homework and pick the best among the lot. The criteria based on which an online college becomes a better option than the other is its credibility and its affiliation to a prominent university. Also essential is the present and past study testimonials, the fee structure, the course duration and the corporate tie ups of such online B-schools. With a sound faculty backing and competitive yet legible course material you will be on your way to fulfill your corporate dream. Nationally the crème de la crème of online B-schools are associated with prominent universities in the country. The top five universities to consider from India as well as from an international platform are:

|

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IG-NOU) among the plethora of courses offered by this well-known university, management degree is rather recent. Taking into account the number of students who enroll into this university yearly, it has been deemed as the largest Open University in the world.

Symbiosis International University (SIU) is UGC (University Grants Commission) and AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education) recognized. This Pune based University has learning centers situated all over the country for the purpose of admission and study assistance.

Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI) is a again a UGC recognised university that offers a two-year long management post graduate degree. This online course is based on regular assessment and self tutorials.

Sikkim Manipal University (SMU), apart from being recognised by Distance Education Council (DEC) SMU is also a ISO 9001:2000 certified university. This educational facility offers various distance education programmes and has over 700 authorized centers across the countries for assistance.

Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh is one of the premier B-schools in the country. The online course on management as well as on information technology is available from its Center of Distance Learning (CDL) branch.

|

As in the international arena, the comfort that comes from opting for an online course might be the same, but the nature, opportunity, outcome and monetary investment is dramatically different. These online courses have a global appeal to their syllabus and hence they cater to a broader set of experienced professionally and corporate aspirants. Among the many impressive options here are the top five:

University of Florida (UF) is recognised internationally as a renowned educational institution. Ranked as one of the top university by the World Report it offers courses on business basics and also includes specialization in finance, marketing, international business and legal.

|

Kalpan University: being accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC), this university is often ranked as number one among the list of top online universities in the world. Among the broad array of courses Kalpan offers courses on marketing, financial management, accounting, organizational behavior, strategic management and policy for both fresh graduates and experienced professionals.

Ashford University: for a university that was found in 1918, Ashford has various affordable and suitable courses on management. The university also offers courses that can be completed in the span of two years or less. It offers both bachelor’s as well as post graduate courses.

Northcentral University: with master’s and Doctoral degree on offer this university has a specialized mentorship facility. For students looking for personal one-on-one mentorship, highly qualified faculty is available online to support and mentor.

Walden University: this university has the world’s largest array of online courses. It has various flexible offers and facilities for working professionals. The university offers both bachelors and master’s degree in management. Being accredited by HLC, Walden offers extra credits for work experience and prior college work.

The viral verdict

While some argue the lack of sensitivity and personal impact, others vouch for flexibility and course convenience that e-learning has to offer. Hence in conclusion, it is important to realize that while online education can both lure as well as repel, it finally depends upon the individual who takes them up.

|

Decide keeping in mind your study needs, pattern and the available time bracket. So, as you venture further, remember this parlance “Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight.

Each grows out of the other and we need them all” - Arthur C. Clarke

BUDDING MANAGERS
JULY 2014 ISSUE


Rate This Article:  
No votes yet
Author:  buddingmanagers
Posted On:  Tuesday, 29 July, 2014 - 13:08

Leave Your Comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
4 + 3 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.