The learning process has always been a subject of great interest. With the development of technologies and science, the methods and approaches to learning evolved as well. New opportunities for education appear every year. Computers gave us an invaluable source of knowledge. However, with the creation of the Internet, this source utterly inexhaustible. Learning online distributed rapidly as an effective and convenient method of learning. Therefore, such practices as web-conferences became essential elements in learning nowadays.
Creating learning communities in a most excellent online environment made communication easy, quick, comfortable, and independent. Numerous learners all over the world recognized the advantages of this practice. One most significant benefits of web-conference learning process, to my mind, is opportunity to interact with very wide audience without geographic borders. The possibility to share ideas with a great number of people from different locations at the same time makes this process much more creative and effective. The quality of learning in this particular situation grows along with the quantity of participants. Another serious advantage of online learning, in my opinion, is a comfortable atmosphere of web-community. Learners are not constrained with classrooms, face-to-face contact with teachers and other learners, own physical appearance, and other material attributes of regular learning. This creates a special atmosphere, when the relaxed person is not distracted by routine questions and may fully concentrate his/her efforts on learning process. As the result, the productivity of learning may increase soundly due to these obvious advantages, hence many educational programs and courses efficiently practice online learning.
On the other hand, the process of learning online in the Internet through web-conferences has some definite weaknesses. One of them is lack of social interaction. Verbal and non-verbal face-to-face communication, including voice, gestures, moves, behavior, look, speech, and tone are very often important elements of communication to many people. As long as online learning communities are deprived of this necessary social factor, some learners may feel discomfort from lack of humanized interaction. Therefore, some techniques that are very useful and effective in learning, like work group, may appear rather difficult to accomplish due to definite limitations of online communication. Another serious disadvantage of online learning, to my mind, is the inability to convey some interesting courses through the Internet. For instance, it is be rather difficult to learn singing, playing guitar, acting in theater, or boxing in web-conferences.
However, in spite of its weaknesses, online conferences have become an effective tool of learning in last decades. Indeed, when advantages exceed disadvantages, the practice becomes popular and successful, like online learning.
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