Persuasive Essay - Distance Education Versus Face-to-Face Learning

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December 1, 2009
Persuasive Essay – Game Theories

Has Virtual Reality Taken Things Too Far? Distance Education versus Face-to-Face Learning

In Clive Thompson’s “Game Theories”, the author illustrates how virtual worlds, such as Everquest and Second Life, have surprisingly become much like the real world. Everquest is an online virtual reality video game that allows individuals to create fictional characters to “generate goods as they play, often by killing creatures for their treasure and trading it“ (Thompson 332). This has created an economy-like setting in the game but has eventually evolved to leak into the real world economy by exchanging real money for the purchase of virtual characters and their winnings. Thompson’s article shows how the line between virtual reality and real world reality often becomes blurry, encouraging people to consider ways where virtual technology can enhance and possibly replace the current systems already in place. However, not everything done through computers and virtual technology are as effective as one thinks. Sometimes, the traditional way of doing things are perfectly fine and more effective just the way they are.

Distance education, in particular, is a phenomenon that has been a growing popular alternative to traditional face-to-face education. I am here to argue that learning behind a computer at home cannot effectively replace the traditional face-to-face education offered at colleges and universities. Difficulty in self-directed learning and instructional misunderstandings can occur in any online course, a lack of a set schedule allows for distractions and procrastination, non-existent interaction inhibits growth and learning, and the probability of cheating is greater among online students versus campus students. Although there are many people who favor the online-learning alternative, this paper will challenge their confidence and counter-arguments on the issue.

Distance education can be quite difficult. There are several courses that have concepts that can be quite tricky and complicated to understand, especially if one is learning on their own using a textbook. Shelia Tucker, an assistant professor at East Carolina University, stated that “students learn far too little when the teacher’s personal presence is not available because the student has far more to learn from the teacher than texts” (par. 2). For example, an accounting teacher can easily explain the advanced calculation of earnings per share and diluted earnings per share through the use of their own methods and organizational charts. Learning the same topic but reading texts from a course book can be quite challenging without a teacher to provide tips and tricks for remembering the formulas. As I am an accounting student aspiring to be a CGA, I am tremendously afraid of entering their online-only program where I would feel so isolated and alone. According to a study of factors influencing completion and non-completion of community college online courses, “students indicated that online learning did not fit their learning style preference. Comments were received from students that they could not get a response from their instructor, the materials were not available, and the course was confusing” (Aragon & Johnson 155). Because of the difficulty experienced in online courses, “some community colleges are reporting drop-out rates 20% higher than in face-to- face classrooms” (Aragon & Johnson 146).

Another drawback of online learning is the lack of a set schedule. Without a fixed timetable, the opportunity for distractions and procrastination often presents itself. These online courses require motivation and self-discipline to complete the courses and programs in a timely manner. This will be especially hard for those who tend to procrastinate and need the extra push from teachers to complete the work or require constant reminders of assignment due dates and examination dates. Because the online courses...
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