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Jheroma Simon

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Jheroma Simon
OMDE 603 Section 9040
March 8th, 2015
Face-to-face interaction
Word count: 1130

Distance education (DE) is a form of education which allows convenience and


accessibility. Students learn at a self-pace while maintaining their careers and daily life schedule.
This new educational pedagogy has developed through time from mail correspondences to
teaching via the use of televisions and the radio (Yang, Cho, Matthew, & Worth, 2011). Today,
the web is the newest most reliable form of technology used for DE. The creation of online
learning environments, provide students with access to their study guides, syllabus, assignments,
texts, and additional aids needed to teach the subject area. Though use of the Internet has
improved DE, there are still concerns about the effectiveness of the programs used. The purpose
of this research paper is to discuss the growing concern that DE courses are unable to fill the
void of face to face interactions and the technologies that can be used to address this concern.
Discussion
In-person classrooms offer students face-to-face interactions with the teacher and other
students, a variety of written text to include lecture notes, preparation for final exams and papers,
and the incorporation of technology within the classroom. Face to face interactions offer a sense
of community, spontaneity and engagement (Yang et al, 2011). The article College student effort
expenditure in online versus face-to-face courses: The role of gender, team learning orientation,
and sense of classroom community (2011), conducted a study in which they separated college

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students into two groups. Group 1 was assigned to an online course, Group 2 to a traditional inclass course. At the end of the study, based on responses from the students, the face-to-face
classroom was more favorable for participation by all members (Yang et al, 2011) unlike the
online class.
Looking at the study by Yang et al (2011), Group 1, the online students, were not as
engaged in discussions as seen with the students in Group 2, they interacted less with their
classmates and they did not put forth as much effort studying as the students in Group 2. The
online classroom can offer a variety of written text excluding lecture notes but including the
opinion of the teacher, written preparation for exams, and a focal point on written papers, done
independently with technology as the sole means of communication. A students motivation and
commitment to learning is proportionate to their instruction and sense of belonging (Yang et al,
2011). The interactive or emotive characteristics of transactional distance were more important
in the face-to-face medium (Hauser, Paul & Bradley, 2012). Not only are students affected
emotionally but for those who work in careers where open dialog and a more personable
approach is required, face-to-face interactions is a better medium to deploy. Hockridge (2013)
addresses a common trend of formation in people-related careers.
Challenges for educators using distance and online education to prepare students for
relational professions such as theology, nursing, social work, counselling or medicine
(Hockridge, 2013), leads to the introduction of the term formation. Based on a research study in
Australia to investigate DE and the concerns that arise within the subject of theology, Hockridge
(2013), coined the term formation as the development of character and spiritual maturity. It is the
inclusion of practical hands-on skills, academia, and non-intellectual learning. Engagement and
functionality the two study modes that reveal doubts shared by students about the quality of

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learning in an online environment versus a face-to-face environment (Todhunter, 2013). So how


can an online educator ensure that all students are receiving the proper amount, form, and type of
interpersonal experiences within the online course or community?
A synchronous technology, though hard to schedule and excluding the fact that it negates
the ideal of convenience, is the best form of technology to use to meet the need for face-to-face
interaction in a DE environment. The use of live conferencing is recommended as a solution for
online programs to be able to offer face time between students and teachers. Live webconferencing allows for online and communicating at the same time (Maebuta & Maebuta,
2010). The conference uses live video and audio feed, with the ability to include PowerPoint
presentations, pictures, and hand-written notations. Students are able to attend the lecture and ask
questions. These conferences can be recorded and archived for future classroom use and
references.
Live conferencing can have both negative and positive impacts within a course. One
major weakness for live-conferencing focuses on those unable to attend the real-time meeting.
How does the instructor plan for the live session when students may live all around the world
with time zone constraints, work schedules, etc. how do you schedule for the mandatory
sessions? Though the conferences can be recorded, students who are unable to attend will be at a
disadvantage as they are unable to ask questions or personally speak with the teacher/ classmates
but merely are watching a recording of what took place during the class session. The ability to
record the live sessions can be seen as a strong form of communication as well. Students who
miss the conference can, in their own time, watch the recorded video and have the opportunity to
pause, rewind, fast-forward, and scribe notes from the recorded meeting.

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As technology continues to evolve, the dependence on the Internet to remain reliant is a


con. Live-conferencing requires an Internet connection that can sustain video streaming, multiple
users on the same program conversing at the same time, uploading videos, documents or images
without connection issues. Students have to be sure their Internet carrier/company, without the
issues of weather and other circumstances beyond human control, does not affect the connection
of a live-streaming conference as the student will be unable to rewind to view or re-watch the
missing part(s) of the session. Face-to-face interactions do allow for disturbances in the
classroom but with low impacts on students learning.
Conclusion
DE provides education opportunities to students from around the globe. Creation of the
Internet has opened a gateway of improvement for the DE community. Students may choose to
embark on an independent-study path via the use of technology, but may still require the
reassuring engagement of a face-to-face classroom. Live-conferencing can be used as a solution
for the inclusion of face-to-face interactions in the online classroom. Live conferencing is also a
solution to formation in career fields, where needed. Face-to-face conferences are the first step in
introducing a more interpersonal relationship between teacher and student. Issues such as time
zone constraints, Internet connections and inaccessibility are cons but use of live conferences in
addition to textbooks, text discussions- chats, study-guides, and other resources supplied for the
class throughout the course, will offer the support needed for students who need a platform for
open discussion, individuality and a sense of community. Online courses can be as effective as
traditional, face-to-face instruction (Maebuta & Maebuta, 2010).

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References

Hauser, R., Paul, R., & Bradley, J. (2012). Computer self-efficacy, anxiety, and learning
in online versus face-to-face medium. Journal of Information Technology Education, 11, 141154. Retrieved from: http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umuc.edu/
Hockridge, D. (2013). Challenges for educators using distance and online education to
prepare students for relational professions. Distance Education, 34 (2), 142-160.
doi:10.1080/01587919.2013.793640
Maebuta, J, & Maebuta, H. E. (2010). Delivering distance learning in rural Soloman
Islands: Practical issues and concerns. International Journal of Learning, 17 (8), 115-126.
Retrieved from: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umuc.edu
Todhunter, B. (2013). LOL- Limitations of online learning- Are we selling the open and
distance education message short? Distance Education, 34 (2), 232-252.
doi: 10.1080/01587919.2013.802402
Yang, Y., Cho, Y. J., Mathew, S., & Worth, S. (2011). College student effort expenditure
in online versus face-to-face courses: The role of gender, team learning orientation, and sense of
classroom community. Journal of Advanced Academics, 22 (4), 619-638.
Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.umuc.edu/10.1177/1932202X11415003