About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6054-6061
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain


A. Toom

Touro College (UNITED STATES)
The first excitement about distance education based on the use of information technology had not yet faded when some warnings appeared (Herskowitz, 2004, Kuleshov, 2008). Indeed, distance education has its pitfalls, specific difficulties, and requires new styles of teaching and learning. Despite of that, nobody doubts that Internet based courses will develop, multiply, and very soon constitute a considerable part of curricula in the highest educational institutions. The purpose of this study is to investigate obstacles on the way to successful learning in distance programs. The main attention is given to the so called problem students which fail to benefit from the new learning environment. We analyze the data from 870 graduate students who were taking Prof. A. Toom’s course Child Development and Learning in the Cultural Context during the period 2005-2011. The research methodology consists in observing the students’ progress, achievement, and activities within the course, administering a survey via Internet to clarify the students’ experiences of distance learning, and conducting statistical calculations of collected data. According to the results, 1) the number of on-line problem students increases every year; 2) only about 50% of them are on-line beginners; 3) problem students are uniformly distributed across various colleges where they previously studied on-line. Also, we have formulated certain criteria for identification of on-line problem students. In addition to low academic achievement, these criteria include lack of motivation, poor self-organization, and inability to actively and independently search for information needed for a successful study. Interpretation of the results is based on the author’s experience of many years work as a developer, teacher, and evaluator of distance psychology courses. According to the author’s viewpoint, the problem students’ main difficulty is not just their inability to master new styles of learning; their weakness seems to be caused by counter-productive attitudes developed in the course of their past experiences of distance learning which have disoriented them. It is not a secret that some college administrations try to save money by putting instructors of humanitarian disciplines, who are often incompetent as software makers, in charge of creating on-line courses. Consequently, poorly organized, uninformative and unaesthetic distance programs are mushrooming, thereby misleading many students’ learning and rendering them to get used to and accept the lack of professionalism as a norm. The author concludes that unprofessionally organized on-line courses affect the students’ work ethics. It is even more harmful than abundance of ignorant college graduates. Lack of knowledge can be made up with a certain effort, but destroyed ethic attitudes are hard to change. Scholars and specialists in distance education, while debating its merits and demerits, seem not to notice this problem. Meanwhile, misguided work ethics continue to root in young generations and make them victims of low quality virtual classrooms. Distance education is the double-edged sword, and in the hands of those short-sighted administrators who care primarily for financial benefits, distance learning programs, initially conceived as a mean for the society’s improvement, can easily become a brake for its development.
author = {Toom, A.},
series = {7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2013 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-2661-8},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {4-5 March, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {6054-6061}}
AU - A. Toom
SN - 978-84-616-2661-8/2340-1079
PY - 2013
Y1 - 4-5 March, 2013
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2013 Proceedings
SP - 6054
EP - 6061
ER -
A. Toom (2013) IMPLICIT LESSONS OF THE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM, INTED2013 Proceedings, pp. 6054-6061.