Barriers to Distance Learning: The Educator's Viewpoint

By Peerani, Naveed | Distance Learning, March 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Barriers to Distance Learning: The Educator's Viewpoint


Peerani, Naveed, Distance Learning


INTRODUCTION

Distance education has continuously improved in the years since its introduction in the 1800s. In recent years, it has become increasingly more popular and successful. The role of learning has changed from a classroombased setting to an online or distancebased learning format. This change has resulted in an altered role for educators. Prior to the introduction of distance learning, teachers would have a physical classroom where they dictated the learning process. With distance learning however, the role is learner based and is dependent on how the learner decides to take on the course. In this way, the teacher must adjust their teaching in order to fulfill the needs of the students in this new way of learning (Bawane & Spector, 2009).

With any new innovation there is always both positive and negative feedback and opinions. Distance education is still in its progressive and improvement stage, which means that there will be criticism as well as praise for the new technological techniques of teaching and learning using this format. Despite the success that has been seen in distance learning classes, some instructors continue to reject this method of instructional delivery. There are numerous causes as well as explanations for resistance to the "man-to-machine" methodology, or distance education, by the educators themselves (Beaudoin, 1990).

DESIGN OF DISTANCE EDUCATION CLASSES

The goal of any educational institution is to instruct and train its students and help them learn better, in a way that can assist them to reach their objective. Learning is not a boot camp where papers are passed out and students must learn everything by rote or be subjected to failure. The entire concept is to engage students to understand the coursework being taught and to be able to use it in the future. There are those who feel that online education is just that, a boot camp with no interaction or support. This is not the case in a welldesigned online class with a well-trained instructor to guide the students. Students are consistently engaged in discussions, group activities, and classroom assignments and exams, regardless of the location of the instructor, school, or student. The instructor plays the key role in making the online classroom successful, and has the biggest responsibility for the care of the student, no matter which setting it may be. Extreme opposition to online classes is therefore puzzling. Instructors should be able to assimilate new methods of teaching in order to better the education of the students; however there are different reasons that prevent some teachers from embracing this teaching method (Beaudoin, 1990).

RESISTING THE CHANGE

Educators have been taught to teach a certain way for a number of years. Change is something that people can adjust to, if there is a willingness to do so. With the introduction of distance education, both the learners and teachers had to make a change in their lifestyle and methods of teaching. Some are more capable of adjusting to this change than others. Every individual educator has reasons to either accept distance education into his or her teaching style, or to stick to the traditional classroom setting (Bonk, 2001).

TIME-IS-MONEY BARRIER

The most common barrier to the resistance to change has to do with time management. There is an extensive investment required in order to maintain an active and engaging distance education course. The time and energy needed by an instructor can be extensive and may call for some time to adjust to the process. Moving from a traditional classroom to an electronic medium may be easy for some but complicated for others. Developing a distance learning course takes more time to construct and maintain, which takes away time from other professional activities, especially those involved in research and publication projects. However, instructors should realize that the time spent in developing lesson plans for the next class could be equivalent to time developing the online coursework. …

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