Overthe years, education has witnessed new paradigms in learning otherthan the traditional class-based training where teachers intactphysically with the students. The progresses noted with the advent ofinformation (internet) technologies signaled a change from the thendistant education to a more recent online learning. With theInternet-based education gaining momentum in the United States andthe globe at large, it has been observed that the younger generation(18 to 25 years of age) is increasingly growing interested andenrolling in numbers for online courses. The scope of that interesthas since widened to include male and female students, the workingand non-working classes, the married and unmarried, and culturallydiverse mixture of learners in the U.S. That has compelled the onlineschools to harmonize pedagogies in order to offset the varied needsof the trainees (Colorado & Eberle, 2010).
Specifically,there has been a significant shift in the trends of the 1990s wherethe average age for distant education characterized an average agecategory of 34 years and the male to the female mean proportion of66% to 25% with a degree before the commencement of online education.In fact, an overall rate of 50% of the then enrolled learners hadcollege degrees while 70% were already married (Jaggars, Edgecombe &Stacy, 2013). However, several years of web-based education haveencountered tremendous shifts with respect to student diversity.Today’s youth are constantly growing up with the web andInternet-based technologies like massive multiplayer online games,search engines, and instant messages they are adequately prepared toeffectively engage online education (Garland & Martin, 2009). Inrelation to the diversity of online learners, online curricula havebeen designed to include explorative and dialogical pedagogiesmodels. Exploratory knowledge acquisition models operate on theconstruct of inquiry-based learning while in dialogical models theemphasis is on conversation and dialogue (Jaggars et al., 2013). Thissection of the paper launches an in-depth discussion into onlinepedagogies and the said models and student demographics to underpintheir impacts on quality internet-based education.
Furthermore,the section exploits how the perceptions on online education byeducation professionals have portrayed and affected the sector.Mainly, Ghandforoush (2013) argued that most professionals hold theview that in as much as online education offers the learners theopportunity to keep pace with the incoming technology-particularlyinformation technology-they system has failed to meet the qualityexpectations of the curriculum. However, others view the system as ahighly competitive and rigorous approach of training worth trying itwould be interesting to unravel these contrasting views so as to gaina better understanding of internet-based education. Alongside thediscussions on the faculty issues regarding online education, themismatches in courses with the learning management systems, and thecurrent technology that is shaping the future of online studies, thissection covers the concepts of online pedagogy in a manner relevantto the students and practitioners alike.
OnlineLearner Demographics versus Pedagogy Design
Accordingto Colorado & Eberle (2010), the demographics of online studentswith respect to age, gender, race, and income are very critical inthe structuring of web-based courses and how they are offered. In theUnited States, there has been a growing mix of the two features ofthe trainees’ composition in which females crave for internet-basededucation with a nearly similar intensity as men. Besides, the sectoris currently overwhelmed with the increasing numbers of the youngpost-high school graduates as well as the elderly experienced group.Therefore, it is imperative to conceptualize not only the demographictrends in online learning but also how such populationcharacteristics affect how courses are offered in online schools i.e.curriculum or pedagogical design.
Theimportance of web-based student demographics cannot be overwritten.In any case, Colorado & Eberle (2010) argued that the populationcharacteristics of students are very instrumental in the structuringof online programs. If well understood, then the curricula availedwill perfectly suit the students the ultimate result of successfultraining at the end of the course schedules. The reality that aboundrelates to the fact that globalization has modified the compositionof web-based learner population from a rather homogenous profilewhich comprised of mostly adults, the working-class, gal-oriented,and inherently motivated to a more heterogeneous kind that harborsthe young and diverse group that is highly responsive totechnological innovations (Garland & Martin, 2009). Thedemographic features that influence internet-based pedagogy includeAge, Sex, Race, and Income, all of which are tersely covered in thenext series of paragraphs.
Althoughonline education trainees share a broader demographic and situationaluniqueness, Allen & Seaman (2012) asserted that the presentprofile of web-based learning features emerging, responsive to rapidtechnological revolutions and brand pedagogies. The system isbecoming more porous to the young generation (18 to 25) of men andwomen who have showcased a tangible interest in joining the elderly(30 to 40-year-old, working class individuals) in the new method ofinternet-based learning. Moreover, the population of undergraduatespartaking at least one online course in the United States averages82.4% annually (Adavbiele, 2016). Hence, there has been a significantshift from the trends of the 1990s where the average age for distanteducation characterized an average age category of 34 years and withthe male to the female proportion of 66% to 25% already having adegree before the commencement of online education. In fact, anoverall rate of 50% of the then enrolled learners had collegedegrees, and besides, 70% were already married (Jaggars, Edgecombe &Stacy, 2013).
However,several years of web-based education have encountered tremendousshifts with respect to student diversity. Today’s youth areconstantly growing up with the web and Internet-based technologieslike massive multiplayer online games, search engines, and instantmessages they are adequately prepared to effectively engage onlineeducation. In addition, the population of online education studentsis diversifying with respect to culture (African-Americans,Hispanics, Whites, Alaskan, Caucasians, and Asians), age bracket(more 18 to 25 year-olds) and gender (more females are joining themale counterparts) (Colorado & Eberle, 2010). For example, in theyear 2013, the University of Phoenix enrolled 69% females against 31%males, 29% Black Americans, 1% Native American, 3,3% Asian, 14.3%Hispanic, and 47.5% Caucasian (Meyer, 2013). So how do online schoolsdesign curricula that fulfill all the requirements of these diversegroups of web-based trainees? Arguably, internet-based educationstudents’ demographic influence the way pedagogies are designed,and these are as discussed below.
Evidently,it is an obvious online education in the United States constituteslearners from all areas and walks of life some live in the U.S,others in Canada, Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world. Besides,some students are married while others are single and fresh from highschools as much as they are males and females of different agegroups. Furthermore, particular groups of trainees enroll to acquiretheir first associate degrees while others are out for post-graduatecourses (HAMILTON, 2015). Despite the family, educational, andprofessional distinctions, Jaggars et al. (2013) stated that thesestudents share a common goal of pursuing an education whilesafeguarding their commitments related to work, family, and thefuture. Therefore, varied needs of these learners inform how onlineschools create fitting, high-quality pedagogies or curricula orcourse programs that meet the requirement of every student byenabling a balance between life demands and higher education.
Thediversities of online education students noted earlier have promptedinternet-based schools to design courses that sustain web-basedinteractions and collaborations. Moreover, such institutions havecome to terms with the fact that the emerging groups of learners needwell-modeled and distributed online delivery platforms such asknowledge portals to enable smooth and transparent training. Intandem with that, Rideout et al. (2007) concluded that web-basedschools have long introduced courses that maintain interaction,discussion, and innovation on the online platform. Currently,students are able to improve their skills by getting involved ingamification (i.e. game-like courses), synchronous and asynchronouslearning (education based on web-based instructions by theinstructor) and project-based training where learners completeindividual projects (rather than coursework and exams in traditionaleducation) to attain degrees (Boton & Sue, 2015). In synchronousinstruction, online students are called upon to participate in avirtual field practice by using videoconferencing and otherinteractive features in the available software for receivingreal-time (synchronous) instruction. To start, an hour is spent witha session of mock counseling by a hired actor as a realistic clientlearners alternate in leading the video session. Hence, students areable to create an environment of field training similar to that inwhich the learners are in direct touch with the client. Additionally,gamification is used to exploit the ambitions of online students bydesigning the game like courses which attract the attention andinterest of learners to explore further as the young (18 to 21 yearsold) earners are familiar with the web and internet-basedtechnologies of massive multiplayer online games (Boton & Sue,2015).
Onething is clear as far as the online pedagogy is concerned, and thatis, it must foster, if not support the interpersonal andcommunication skills of the students and has been the need for theintegration of the online collaborative tools. In what would looklike the simplest definition of an online learner as a person who isat ease with written communication, savvy with internet technologies,and computer proficient, Jaggars et al. (2013) observed that the needfor technology-oriented pedagogy is patently highlighted. In otherwords, the course designers must be well aware that the lack ofskills on the use of computer technology as a collaborative andcommunication means is a barrier good enough to impact the quality ofweb-based learning negatively. As it is in internet-based learningwhere the instructor and student are not in physical proximity, thelatter subject is expected to be self-disciplined, self-managed, andself-monitored. Also, online trainees must comprehend and value theopportunities brought forth by communication and collaborativetechnologies so as to participate actively and gainfully in trainingand development (Jaggars et al., 2013).
Moreover,Boton & Sue (2015) asserted that some students are innately drawnto collaboration while others display an inevitable need toconceptualize the necessity of these pedagogical constructs inlearning. Being naturally drawn to peer interaction also referred toas affiliation, stresses on the fundamentality of the need to be partof supportive groups regarding web-based education. An instance whichreveals how the need for affiliation can manifest in the web-basededucation atmosphere is the community of practice (COP) (Jaggars etal., 2013). Those who belong to a COP are well aware that a socialmind is at work as well as the fact that information is a sharedcognition capital. COP is a curriculum model coined in a theory ofknowledge acquisition as a social process and introduced in theweb-based context through learning networks, asynchronous networksand other online communication and collaborative technologies(Adavbiele, 2016). Therefore, online schools are consistentlyharmonizing their pedagogies to be able to detect and exhibit a needfor affiliation given that it is the cornerstone to fruitful andconsequential web-based learning experience. The two primarypedagogical designs that must be considered by online schools so asto succeed in training include the exploratory pedagogical models andthe dialogical pedagogical models.
ExploratoryPedagogical Models:Exploratory knowledge acquisition models operate on the construct ofinquiry-based learning whereby students are presented with anacademic problem and instructed to formulate a hypothesis, collectrelevant data from the online sources, and generate solutions,recommendations, action plans, and situational interpretations. Themodels that online pedagogies must include for learners underexplorative studies include simulations, problem-based learning,WebQuests, situated learning, and cognitive apprenticeships. Whileusing these models as part of the curriculum, it is possible togenerate a pool of graduates with impeccable skills of communication,interpersonal, socialization, collaboration, self-directed learning,and evaluation and reflection experience (Jaggars et al., 2013).
DialogicalPedagogical Models:In these frameworks, the emphasis is on conversation and dialogue.Hence, the course is constructed in such a way that the learner canacquire knowledge in an interaction through dialogue that may beformal or informal. With regards to that, online pedagogies mustinclude models (dialogical) such as communities of practice,discussion forums as well as the knowledge building associations. Theabove models are decisive in imparting dialogical experiences such associal negotiation, articulation, collaboration, evaluation, andreflection among the online students (Jaggars et al., 2013).
Earnestly,online pedagogy has been designed around technologies that maintaininteracting with peers, working on term papers while utilizingInternet-based resources in the online libraries, and creating websites and digital products aimed to demonstrate learning (Colorado &Eberle, 2010). It is now possible to engage in online learningactivities (e.g. online seminars and information sharing) at theglobal context anywhere, anytime without necessarily having to changelocation. Because of its flexibility and technology-mediated learningsetting, online education poses a significant threat to thetraditional face-to-face education (Ni, 2013). It has resulted incontested perceptions among education practitioners which in turnhave had considerable impacts on the sector of online educationregarding quality and authenticity.
EducationExperts’ Perceptions on Online Education and Faculty Issues
Mosthigh-level learning institutions presently offer a portion ofcoursework on the internet while others have redesigned theirprograms to completely utilize the online platform. In the U.S, about4.6 million colleges took a minimum of one online course by the endof 2008, indicating a 50% rise in the number of trainees who attendedsuch programs in 2004. By the wake of 2009, 73% of the universitieswitnessed growth in demand for Internet-based education and wasperceived by a majority of academic instructors (58%) as vital to thelong-term instructional strategies for the institutions (Allen &Seaman, 2012). However, this view has over the years changed amidpraise and criticism of the quality of web-based learning as observedin the period 2011 to date. Ward, Peters & Shelley (2010) arguedthat despite the surging trend in web-based courses, a majority ofhigher education faculty administrators are yet to consider offeringcourses online. Consequently, they pose a serious barrier to theexpansion of Internet-based education programs, a situation whichonly loosened slightly in 2009 when 31% of the academics started toview online instruction as important and legitimate (Ward et al.,2010).
Educationexperts have had a fair say of how they perceive online learningespecially when scrutinized against the traditional schools withrespect to the quality of programs offered and the reliability of thecurricula designs. Ghandforoush (2013) argued that most professionalshold the view that in as much as online education offers the learnersthe opportunity to keep pace with the incomingtechnology-particularly information technology-they system has failedto meet the quality expectations of the curriculum.
Theprimary concerns aired by most education practitioners aretriple-folded and include: the quality of online education is lowerthan that of face-to-face teaching, online courses are not (or areleast) accredited, and employers are hesitant to recruit onlinegraduates (HAMILTON, 2015). However, they regrettably admit that thedemand for Internet-based education is rapidly growing and with theconception of the computers and information technology, little can bedone to avert that need, but rather, institutions shouldappropriately and adequately structure online courses in a manner tomimic traditional learning. That way, the academics argue thatweb-based education will be the best place to be in years to come.However, they caution that any hesitation to remodel the curricula tomatch the swelling needs and quality expectations is likely to plungethe United States into a generation of the least competent graduateswhich in turn would adversely affect the country’s economy(Ghandforoush, 2013). On that regard, most university instructorshave since disregarded any attempts of comparing the quality oflearning attained in the traditional education to that of onlinetraining, specifically in relation to the novel and complex content.
Withthese perceptions overriding the sector, the future of onlineteaching is at stake and is characterized by student withdrawals andfaculty hesitations to offer online programs. In a way, the views ofthe academics contributed partly to the gradual decline in theenrollment of trainees in the period 2012/2013 in U.S (Allen &Seaman, 2012). Specifically, a majority of education professionalsconcur that synchronous interactive online instruction (SIOI) issomewhat effective and with the proper channeling of asynchronousinstructions, web-based teaching will attain significant milestones.Particularly, the teaching fraternity is unanimous of the opinionthat asynchronous approach is inferior as much as they are aware ofthe same. This situation is likely to reinforce the reluctance heldby most faculties to adopt online education as part of teaching(Meyer, 2013).
Theresearch survey as carried out by Ward et al. (2010) on theperceptions of web-based education by the academics and students inSouthern Mississippi yielded tangible revelations. First, it wasvalidated that only a small proportion of instructors in SouthernMississippi University offered courses using SIOI because manychallenges were associated with the approach. The constraints asmapped by the research were technical matters (e.g. audiodifficulties and WebCT inaccessibility), problems mastering SIOIcollaborative operating system, and a lot of time required to planand prepare the programs. Furthermore, the study determined that theSIOI features constant technological lapses which only brand thelearning experience as undependable, taxing, and fruitless. Withrespect to that, Boton & Sue (2015) interdicted that the qualityof online education is bestowed on how well an institution servicesand supports its web-based tools. And the perceptions of the highereducation practitioners regarding online education are concentratedaround the issues of technology, learner demand, and pedagogy.
Technologyand Academicians’ Perceptions:Education experts hold the view that technology is influential as aquality determinant for online learning as much as they agree thatmost online schools are way below average regarding technologicalinvestment, experience, and utilization. Until such a time whenschools adopt the expertise and technology for online studies, thestandard of internet-based teaching will remain low, and the negativeperceptions held by the employers towards such graduates will persist(Nash, 2015). However, the experts recognize the use of learningmanagement systems (LMS) in video streaming, examination, andassessment, asynchronous discussion platforms, online testing,synchronous presentation, and videoconferencing technologies assignificant achievements that when effectively utilized, willdecorate the quality of online learning positively. Facultyadministrators predict that wireless and reusable content objectstechnology are the ones to have great impacts on the future ofweb-based education. In addition to the use of digital libraries,collaboration, games and simulation, language sport, e-Books, tabletPCs, and wearable technologies, academicians forecast a bright futurefor internet-based studies (Sener, 2010). To some extent, these viewshave encouraged faculties to try out several online programs as muchas it has attracted the attentions of the technologically addictedyoung generation of students to enroll in the courses.
OnlineLearner Demand and Academicians’ Perceptions:First, the intellectuals predict considerable growth in onlinedegrees characterized by certification and recertification programs.However, the prospect of offering postgraduate degrees via an onlineplatform is highly disputed by the group, and no faculty isconsidering investing on that in the near future, neither is thefaculty ready to offer a full degree program in fear of qualitydegradation as opposed to face-to-face approach. That, in part,justifies why most universities in the U.S are still undecided (andsure not to!) on whether to accept full-time web-based teachingpractices and their reluctance is causing more college dropouts asthe internet-based learners fear for their futures under a systemsubject to public criticism (Ghandforoush, 2013). Secondly, theprofessionals express doubt on the possibility of the onlineinstructors coming to task to meet all the demands of the students.They argue that the web-based tutors’ competencies are ratherquestionable and the possibility of them aligning pedagogies with thelearning context without complete monetary support would beimpossible. In other words, online learning will remain an expensiveventure for both the student and the faculty and in some way that haskept the latter groups at by and in unison to exploit the otherwiseaffordable and highly productive traditional education (Meyer, 2013).Finally, academicians have insisted that the best paradigm forlearning is that which integrates face-to-face with online educationrather than having the latter on its own, but the former can operateindependently to success. They encourage faculties to blend theirtraditional method with the web-based one or risk losing out in theotherwise competitive market by abolishing the original method forthe latter (HAMILTON, 2015). Nonetheless, faculties have treadedcarefully concerning the notion of upgrading to internet-basedlearning, with a larger proportion opting for the traditionalteaching practice and thus limiting the number of those who enroll inonline programs.
PedagogyDesign and Academicians’ Perceptions:Most education experts are of the view that the quality of onlinestudies is likely to improve in the future and at some point, theoutcomes of online teaching will be identical to (or surpass) that ofa traditional class. In other words, the next decades will experiencea paradigm of shift to Internet-based learning because of theprojections that course and outcome qualities will be moderate tohigh in the years to come. They feel that if online schools canadequately teach students to self-regulate their academic programs,measure their readiness to learn, provide better evaluation tools,and adopt advanced learning management systems, then online educationwill be the best place to be in the coming decades (Sener, 2010).With respect to online teaching skills, academicians argue that thatis entirely vested upon the capabilities of the instructors and theirreadiness to moderate teaching through quality web-based coursedesign is inevitable. In any case, Ghandforoush (2013) observed thatonline tutors are moderators and facilitators of trainees’education and the future looks promising regarding the availabilityof this category due to the technological achievements.
Concerningpedagogical techniques, most education professionals concur thatproject-based learning, online collaboration, and problem-basedlearning are the most effective instructional methods worthexploitation by the course instructors if online education is tosucceed. The good thing is that the experts predict a future ofvibrancy in the way instructors will apply learner-centeredtechniques stated above and that would be a pointer into the shiftfrom the traditional teacher-directed methods to the internet-basedlearning. More faculties are, therefore, in awe preparation for thechanges as much as they are still hesitant to redefine the curriculato incorporate full-time online studies (Allen & Seaman, 2012).For a long time, Adavbiele (2016) noted that the instructors havebeen using the easy-to-implement procedures however, the future isestimated to coincide with a period of intense implementation ofcross-cultural collaboration, virtual teaming, and simulationsalongside other interaction media and that augurs well for quality inonline education.
Finally,the issue of evaluation and assessment of web-base courses receivesmixed perceptions among the education practitioners, with a majorityarguing that making a comparison between the outcomes ofinternet-based learning and the traditional education would be thebest tool for gauging the effectiveness of the former. That wouldthen be potentiated with the learners’ performance in synchronoustasks and the trainees’ course evaluation those who oppose thisview reiterate that formats such as asynchronous learning only occuronline and, therefore, comparing the two could be misleading (Meyer,2013). However, most academicians air the notion that the traditionallearning system avails a valid benchmark for learning and allknowledge acquisition practice outcomes should to the least reflectits efficiency. Simply put, they portray face-to-face teaching as amore superior approach and disregard the imagination of what toexpect if the traditional teaching results could be assessed based onthe set standards of the online education.
Adaptivityof Mismatched Courses and Learning Management Systems
Accordingto Liu & Graf (2009), students have at some point had topersevere even with the provision of courses that are not matchingtheir learning and development styles that has been to the detrimentof their intellectual growth. Under normal circumstances, studentspartaking mismatched courses perform the same way as those whoseprograms are matched in relation to learning styles. The former groupof trainees is able to perform because adaptive systems which if putin place, enhance the development of online students irrespective ofwhether the course offered is in line with the learning style orotherwise. Learning style refers to the distinct preferences andstrengths in the ways trainees comprehend and process information.
Variousoptions are in place for adapting a course program based on thestudent’s learning styles, with the frequently utilized approachbeing to link the instructions to the trainee’s abilities and orpreferences alongside teaching based on the student’s strengths.Consequently, the online trainee enjoys the ease with which theprograms are managed, and that helps in the rapid learning andperformance in the short-run even with the mismatched courses (Liu &Graf, 2009). Similarly, for the long-term achievements, the studentsare also taken through a series of programs that boost the skills andpreferences not preferred by them. Examples of adaptive systems thathelp students to perform with mismatched courses are IDEAL, TANGOW,CS383, MAS-PLANG, and AHA. Although these systems lack integrationand, therefore, can only sustain a few roles of internet-basededucation, their use in combination with the learning managementsystems have proved vital for the victory of online candidates (Liu &Graf, 2009).
Usually,every program outline must clearly spell out the adaptive features ofcoursework examples, practice exercises, and self-assessment tests,all of which should either be presented before the content objects orbetween topics such that the learners are able to grasp a detailedoverview of the curriculum expectations. Chapters can also bedesigned starting with the conclusion or otherwise so that thetrainees can appreciate the summary of the section and develop markedinterest in preceding further to exploit the contents (Wladis et al.,2014). Arguably, students with mismatched programs usually browsemore frequently for additional information available within the manylearning management systems platforms. If the instructors fail toinclude the relevant materials, the learners are often frustrated,and they end up losing focus in their studies. Willging & Johnson(2009) argued that the rising number of online students’ dropoutsis attributed to the lack of adaptivity in the pedagogical designs, asituation that has also threatened learners from enrolling for onlinestudies. Therefore, every internet-based instructor is mandated toensure that mismatched courses are sided with the provision ofadaptivity to guarantee success for online education. Otherwise,Wladis et al. (2014) clarified that the sector would continue towitness a situation for fear among students regarding the enrollmentand successful completion of courses like math and medicine.
CurrentTechnologies for Online Education
Theoperation of online learning anchors on two models namely exploratoryand dialogical pedagogy models and as such, technologies in placesupport the two modes. When accurately applied, technology is votedto be the determining force aimed to shape the future ofinternet-based education.
Technologiesfor Exploratory Pedagogy Models
Severaltechnologies aid the provision of exploratory mode of educationnamely search engines, graphics, hypermedia, digital audio and video,multimedia, and self-contained instructional modules as created usingauthoring tools (Lim et al., 2013). In online learning, theimplementation of exploratory models takes one of the many versions,some of which are considered here. First, the Internet-basedauthoring software can be used to script languages and modelself-contained instructional modules such as simulations andmicroworlds which in turn assist in engaging learners in experientialpractices. Second, links to multimedia and hypermedia are applied inthe provision of online resources targeted to the exploratory actionsof the online trainees. Also, search engines generate links throughwhich internet-based students can access study materials throughself-exploration of the web. Furthermore, links are provided to thedatabases so that the process of synchronous data relating to say theweather is located and reviewed by the trainees (Jaggars et al.,2013).
Thestructuring of online pedagogies based on the exploratoryperspective, the online developer’s expertise determines whichtechnologies are incorporated. That decision also depends partly onthe features of the target students as well as the instructionalqualities of the curriculum design adopted. In a web-based educationinvolving K-12 teachers, for instance, WebQuest is selected for usebecause it favors most of the features of exploratory knowledgeacquisition of the experiential models (Lim et al., 2013).Technologically speaking, online pedagogy’s future partly vests onthe technical knowhow of the next generation of instructors toexploit relevant tools in the provision of synchronous instructionsto the trainees, and this has been predicted possible by mostacademicians.
Technologiesfor Dialogical Pedagogy Models
Severaltechnologies upon which dialogical models operate are asynchronousand synchronous software or formats like the email, listservs,discussion forums, virtual chat, computerconferencing,videoconferencing, document sharing, and groupware. To set upWeb-based discussion areas that focus around a particular topic,asynchronous discussion forums can be utilized in promoting socialintegration and collaboration. One group may choose to remainopen-ended with respect to discussion and enable the learners togather information from one another while in another group,structured internet-based discussion can be observed. Also, virtualcharts and videoconferencing are decisive in involving the studentsin synchronous communication processes (Lim et al., 2013). Inessence, practices involving real-time collaboration enable onlinelearners to brainstorm opinions, contest problems, and formulateaction plans within a short time-frame. Furthermore, documents can beshared online and with the availability of groupware, learners canreadily discuss the contents of the displayed materials through thechart, videoconferencing, or email. Besides, they can collaborativelyedit the files and go further to annotate the documents as long asthe groupware has in-built annotation formats (Jaggars et al., 2013).
Additionally,Lim et al. (2013) asserted that dialogical models are alsocharacterized by technologies such as MUD and MOOs which serve asknowledge sharing channels upon which negotiation throughrole-playing and social interactions are channeled. The Multiple UserDimension (MUD) represents a virtual world in which the learnersbecome the bodies of the characters they adopt to navigate theworlds. Here, the online candidates simultaneously explore thevirtual world with the other groups who also control characters, andas such, it is possible to build teams and talk to each other on theweb. Conversely, the Multi-User Object Oriented (MOO) type providesthe trainees with the chance to have a feel of the virtual worldsthrough a game or theme exploration and unlike MUD which aretext-based MOOs primarily use multimedia to accomplish its functions(Lim et al., 2013). Therefore, it is important said that for all theonline schools aiming to surprise the world with qualityinternet-based pedagogies, the use of technologies that sustaindialogical and explorative models must be considered. If not, thefuture of web-based education will be rendered insignificant becausethe market is very competitive and only the competent graduates areguaranteed workplaces.
Overthe years, education has witnessed new paradigms in learning otherthan the traditional class-based training where teachers intactphysically with the students. The progresses noted with the advent ofinformation technologies signaled a change from the then distanteducation to a more recent online learning. With the Internet-basededucation gaining momentum in the United States and the globe atlarge, it has been observed that the younger generation (18 to 25years of age) is increasingly growing interested and enrolling innumbers for online courses. The demographics of online students withrespect to age, gender, race, and income are very critical in thestructuring of web-based courses and how they are offered. Althoughonline education trainees share a broader demographic and situationaluniqueness, the present profile of web-based learning featuresemerging, responsive to rapid technological revolutions and brandpedagogies. Today’s youth are constantly growing up with the weband Internet-based technologies like massive multiplayer onlinegames, search engines, and instant messages they are adequatelyprepared to engage online education effectively.
Thediversities of online education students noted earlier have promptedinternet-based schools to design courses that sustain web-basedinteractions and collaborations. Moreover, such institutions havecome to terms with the fact that the emerging groups of learners needwell-modeled and distributed online delivery platforms such asknowledge portals to enable smooth and transparent training. That hasnecessitated the introduction of exploratory and dialogical pedagogymodels in as part of the internet-based learning. Exploratoryknowledge acquisition models operate on the construct ofinquiry-based learning whereby students are presented with anacademic problem and instructed to formulate a hypothesis, collectrelevant data from the online sources, and generate solutions,recommendations, action plans, and situational interpretations.Conversely, in dialogical models, the emphasis is on conversation anddialogue. Hence, the course is constructed in such a way that thelearner can acquire knowledge in an interaction through dialogue thatmay be formal or informal. The provision of exploratory mode ofeducation is aided by several technologies namely search engines,graphics, hypermedia, digital audio and video, multimedia, andself-contained instructional modules as created using authoringtools. On the other hand, technologies upon which the dialogicalmodels operate are asynchronous and synchronous software or formatslike the email, listservs, discussion forums, virtual chat,computerconferencing, videoconferencing, document sharing, andgroupware.
Althoughtechnologies are in place, most academics still hold the view thatonline learning is less superior to the traditional education. They,however, predict that the future of internet-based education remainsbright as long as the issues of technology and pedagogy design arewell handled. Indeed, they are aware of the numerous drawbacksrelated to the failure to indulge adaptivity for mismatched courseswhich somewhat has led to many dropouts in online schools. Simplyput, therefore, the current diversity noted in web-based learninginstitutions must work towards meeting the unique demands of eachstudent through flexible and adaptable pedagogy alongside matchingtechnological application if the future of learning through theinternet is to be saved into the future.
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