The advent of the internet and personal computers revolutionized the way we receive information. Modern technology makes it possible to educate and train the next generation of health care providers in a virtual classroom (such as those at CNACertification-Training.com). While online education creates opportunities for many people, especially those unable to pursue an education otherwise, it does not come without challenges and concerns. Many professionals are concerned that the quality of education received online may be substandard. Lack of personal interaction, potential academic dishonesty, and inadequate training of instructors bring into question the reliability of these distant learning programs.
A universal concern among skeptics of online curriculum is the seeming lack of interpersonal interaction between peers, students, and faculty. There is doubt that online programs provide the necessary training to prepare students for working as part of a group. All healthcare workers are part of a team of professionals providing patient care. Learning to communicate and cooperate with others is essential to building a cohesive unit, and without it, patient care suffers. An online classroom generally does not afford the opportunity of face-to-face collaboration. And an individual, knowledgeable in theory, may yet be ill equipped to work with others. Most online programs deal with this issue through the use of online forums requiring students to post a certain number of comments on each assignment. This allows students to provide and receive feedback on their ideas from other students and the professor.
The Honor Code
Academic honesty is another concern. The anonymity provided by a web-based course makes people wonder—how can instructors really ensure that students are submitting their own work? Or ensure that notes or textbooks are not being used. Although it is theoretically possible to have another student take tests for you it is generally unlikely that you could find someone willing to do all your work for you. The problem of notes and textbooks being used is generally a red-herring in that most online tests are “open book” so there is actually no prohibition toward using them. But although you are allowed to use resources the tests are timed so you don’t have time to spend researching each and every answer. And in actuality this makes the test more like real life where books and online resources are available to research an issue. After all we live in a world full of resources ready and waiting to come to our aid at a moments notice.
Teaching an online course is very different from the lecture-style of instruction common in standard classrooms. Greater consideration is given to how the material is presented, and how accessible the coursework is via a web-based course. Lectures are often prerecorded using the best professor available. So lectures are standardized and you don’t risk getting a substandard lecturer. The role of an online educator becomes more of a facilitator than a lecturer. Online educators are trained in administering an online class rather than in their speaking ability.
Concerns over the quality and reliability of an online medical education are valid. The value of online education programs can only be determined once the challenges are effectively addressed. One good route to take if you are concerned about the acceptance of an online degree is to be sure the school has the proper certifications and that credits are transferable. Then you might take your first few years online and then transfer to a “bricks and mortar” institution to get your final diploma.
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Nicholas Freeman writes on health, medical education, medical science, the healthcare industry and the medical field in general. Image courtesy of akeeris / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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