There is no single research paper conclusion on distance learning which gives a final answer to the ongoing debate on the effectiveness of distance learning versus the traditional mode of teaching. While some people agree that distance learning has come a long way and opened new vistas in the field of education, some researchers are still questioning the value of learning through non traditional means. Whatever is the case, there are various opinions to consider and they are all significant in their own regard.
The Two Arguments to Consider
There are two schools of thoughts in this argument on the effectiveness of distance learning. While one considers virtual classrooms as lonely, frightening places incapable of providing the right educational experience to the student and the teacher, there is another voice which supports distance learning. In their research paper conclusion of distance learning, many such scholars have written about the potential of distance learning if the technology being employed is utilized to its maximum. They see distance learning as a humanizing force, one which can bring together people from various walks of life. Dan Melzer of the Florida University conducted a research project on 20 online freshman courses to test if virtual classrooms are indeed as effective as conventional classrooms, at the end of his research he was pleasantly surprised to find that an online course could be as invigorating as a normal course, provided that the teachers know how to use the communication technology available to them.
If managed well, a virtual classroom can have constructive debates and discussions between students through real-time chat rooms. This thought is echoed by Mason and Kaye, who in their research paper conclusion of distance learning mention that online education offers a chance to build a sense of community amongst the participants, by encouraging collaborative learning and discussions. They also say that the most exciting aspect of distance learning is that it encourages collective thinking, socialization, and is by no means a lonely affair.
Those considering the negative aspects of distance learning say that the asynchronous nature of online education takes some getting used to, moreover conducting a seamless discussion might not be possible because it is performed at various levels and speeds at different places. If a student is not familiar with technology, he might find it difficult to follow a discussion. Delayed responses and pending messages may further hinder group performance. Another researcher, Dr. Garrison, in his research paper conclusion of distance learning states that distance education through online means may be collaborative learning, the challenge lies in understanding the technology in order to apply it to create new and more effective learning situations.