Online education gives people, who would otherwise not get further education, an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills, but the innate challenges make it lack the quality and effectiveness it should have. With the world getting busier, many people often find themselves working while pursuing an education.
Many of these people enroll in online courses, which do not require them to physically attend lessons. Learners must read academic materials and watch videos sent by their instructors. At a higher level, lessons are conducted through a video link. Examinations are also taken online and term papers and essay submitted through email.
Despite this novel approach, online education faces various challenges that make it of a lesser quality and less effective, compared to conventional education as delivered in a real classroom.
Students taking lessons through virtual education have no personal touch with their teachers and fellow learners. Even when there are taught through video link and can see their teacher, they still lack the crucial interaction that would make them understand concepts more effectively.
Face-to-face communication between learners and instructors can never be replaced with video link. The latter also becomes less effective, when the lecturer has to deal with a large number of students. A student emanating from such a classroom, if it can be called so, is of a lower academic caliber than a learner undertaking the same course from a classroom where there is physical touch with the teacher.
Studying in virtual universities also requires the learner to invest in or have access to internet technology and pertinent equipment, which may increase the cost of education. Without a computer and high-speed internet connection, online education will not take place.
Apart from the fact that not areas have internet technology on the globe, the student also needs to have the skills to run a computer and communicate using video-link, email and other methods. Since they serve a global clientele, virtual educational institutions face challenges reaching many prospective clients, who lack such equipment, technology and skills.
Virtual universities are also logistically limited as to the kind of courses they can offer. Science based courses that need laboratory experiments or those that are of a mechanical nature are off-limits. This means that engineering, medicine, computer science, drama and public speaking cannot be taught in virtual classrooms. In essence, any type of learning that is hands-on cannot be offered by virtual universities.
Students who need to acquire knowledge in these areas must attend conventional lessons. Consequently, online education can only serve the needs of students who require largely-theoretical courses.