Why Online Learning May Not Always Work
Online education has drastically changed the way students learn. Greater access, flexible scheduling, and the ability to learn from anywhere are very appealing features of learning online. However, for students who are pursuing a vocational trade like Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), an online school may not be the best solution.
While both online and on-ground courses often offer experienced instructors and accelerated learning schedules, there are also many things that an online course cannot address for the typical HVAC student—or other student pursuing a trade.
LITTLE INSTRUCTOR CONTACT
One of the biggest criticisms of online learning is that students generally do not have a lot of direct contact or communication with their instructors. While students can reach out through email or text messaging, it’s not the same as sitting down, face-to-face during class hours. Distance education also means that the teacher isn’t witnessing student reactions to lessons, adjusting the pace of lectures or teaching to the needs of the class.
LITTLE PEER COMMUNICATION
Because students are working independently of one another, they miss out on the collaboration and interactions that they would have with others in a classroom setting. Many students are motivated by competition with their peers or by learning through study/practice groups. In online courses students may be geographically separated, reviewing lectures and doing coursework at different times or on different days. As a result, they may feel isolated—talking through challenges in a chat room simply doesn’t provide the same sense of community.
Classroom learning is largely structured, giving students a very clear learning path for each day. With online learning, students are required to manage their own time and balance their coursework with the rest of their responsibilities. This can be a problem for procrastinators or those who have poor focus. Without someone regularly monitoring their progress and tasks, students can fall behind.
The most important part of study that is lost when a student moves from in-person to online education is the hands-on training that they receive in a trade school. When pursuing a career like HVAC, it is necessary that a student have time working with lab simulations of what they will experience in the real world. This is a career that requires using your hands, and working with tools of the trade. Students need to train to become skilled at maintenance and repair steps on the actual equipment, troubleshooting alongside an experienced instructor.
Online learning has made education more available to students and allowed those with busy schedules and who are working full time to figure out a way to pursue their dreams. Some career paths, though, require more than what can be done in an online setting. Students at UEI College may be pursuing a Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning education, a career as an automotive technician, or as a dental assistant or medical assistant. In all of these fields, some degree of lab practice and hands-on learning may be the difference between learning the facts and learning the job.
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