Activity (4) Quickly read the text. With your partner, try to match the following descriptions (1-4) with the paragraphs (A-D).

Face -to- face or distance learning

Distance learning and teaching systems have been around for at least 200 years in one form or another, although many people think it is an up-to-date system of learning. Historically, distance learning involved sending students a series of weekly lessons by mail. The technological advancements of the past 20 or so years, however, have meant that this form of education is now a credible alternative to face-to-face learning. Indeed, 1996 saw the founding of the first “virtual university” in the United States, which indicates that distance learning has developed in a relatively short span of time. While it is now possible to obtain a large variety of online degrees, which is the best type of education to pursue? A closer check of this topic indicates that distance, online and traditional educational systems have significant differences as well as some similarities. 

A.  _______ When the systems are compared, the clear difference dwells in the way that instruction is delivered. Online distance learning is an instructional system in which learners connect with educational resources. Students work on their own at home, at work, or school and communicate with faculty and other students via e-mail, electronic forums, videoconferencing, chat rooms, bulletin boards, instant messaging and other forms of computer-based communication. In a face-to-face course, students may only require a computer for writing an essay. In comparison, when learning remotely, technology is the principal means of communication, as mentioned. Face-to-face instruction must take place in real-time and in one location. Conversely, a distance learning system can happen at any time and in any location, because the learning is not restricted by geography. Thanks to the flexibility that this provides, students may be better able to learn at their own pace, but it may also mean that learners have to be well organized and self-disciplined. In other words, they must be more highly motivated to do well in distance-learning courses. Finally, with face-toface learning, the teacher and student have the opportunity to develop a personal relationship. In a virtual classroom, by contrast, the teacher may seldom or never actually meet the student. This may make it hard for teachers to understand their students’ specific learning needs.

B. _______ Although the nature of teacher-student relationships may vary in the two methods, they share the same core principles. Just as a teacher is the “source of knowledge” in a classroom, he or she is the one who is responsible for helping students comprehend the online course. The teacher needs to decide how to present the learning material best and in which sequence the topics should be introduced. He or she must also create the assignments for the course and help the students to know what resources (textbooks, websites, and so on) will best support their learning. Additionally, a teacher needs to provide student feedback in some way. For example, a language teacher in a classroom may be able to correct a student’s grammar or pronunciation in the moment. In contrast, a distance-learning teacher may need to provide written or recorded feedback to be delivered later. In any case, all the common elements of the teacher’s role are necessary, no matter what kind of instruction is being used. Online distance learning systems have advantages and disadvantages.

C. _______ There are many advantages of using distance learning environments. The online education system is available all the time and anywhere. Nevertheless, there are drawbacks for some learners. the written text is available for online students, and no other face-to-face cues. This may confuse the learner and cause misconception. While distance learning allows for impartiality, it is also inconvenient because it is done by e-mail messages and writing, and therefore, it may take more time than face-to-face learning. The sheer bulk of messages can sometimes be overwhelming for many online students. Several types of educational institutions such as universities, colleges and schools use online distance learning environments. These are crucial for students who may be unable to attend meetings for a variety of reasons such as sicknesses or busy everyday lives. Some students just want to advance their studies at home. They enjoy the comfort of learning from home as they register in regular programs or enrichment classes. Online or distance courses will keep learners very engaged at all hours. There are a lot of messages and other online resources to read and respond to. Most learners have regular jobs or attend regular school classes on the ground as well. However, the benefits are clear. Online distance learning is becoming very popular. Some virtual online classes have become a profitable business as they replace conventional traditional means of learning.

D. _______ It is not easy to declare whether one way of learning is better than another, because they are pointing towards different learning situations. They are absolutely different experiences. Nevertheless, there are strong similarities between the two systems, which can both produce positive results. A student who has the choice should consider the pros and cons of each method before deciding to take a course.