The benefits of online learning over traditional learning center on the fact that online learning allows for more learner independence (Peppler and Solomou 14), flexibility, reduced costs and increased convenience.
While higher education programmes have traditionally been governed by the conventional components of ‘teaching’, recent decades have brought about a re-evaluation of the fundamental premise and function of education (Garrison and Vaughan 4). This has led to a significant shift in focus towards a learner-centred approach where autonomy and the facilitation of independent and lifelong learning has become a primary goal (Somekh 20). As a result of this and prevailing socio-economic factors, distance and online education has become an increasingly popular, accessible and valid form of education (Stacey 288). Though previously serving as an alternative to conventional education, the past decade has seen increasing levels of convergences in distance and conventional education, and it appears to be a natural evolution of educational approaches (Tait and Mills 10). Traditional education cannot allow for such accessibility and convenience on the part of the learner.
The rapid development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s) in the late 20th century created new and exciting conditions for online courses, such as providing almost unlimited resources for research and information, enabling interactive learning and significantly reducing the cost of tutor-student communications (Leach 41). In fact, these technologies have affected education as a whole, irrespective of the descriptor of ‘distance’ or ‘conventional’ (Somekh 37). These technologies offer much more resources and diverse methods compared to traditional learning environments which take place in a classroom and use usually only printed material.
The financial benefits of online learning are also significant both for learner and institution. It provides cost savings benefits ...