As with technological advancement, online education has vastly progressed as a sought-after opportunity. Accordingly, it has been promoted for its affordability, flexibility and ease of access, internationally. On the other hand, adverse connotations persist in society, with many undermining the qualifications of online education, arguing that online education cannot provide pertinent social interaction to allow for soft skill development, student comprehension of academia and is deemed suitable only for those who are disabled. Analysing the works of previous researchers, the aforementioned variables will be explored to discover whether socialisation in online education has a significant or inferior difference in its output.
Initially, socialisation from online learning affects students’ development of soft skills and their ability to adapt to norms in the workplace. It has been conceded that, to allow for the growth and assessment of students’ soft skills and workplace efficacy, online programmes implement skill curricula (Thorpe 269; Hamburg et al. 4). However, it was contended that while minimal socialisation and skill enrichment is inculcated within some online institutions, most online schools tend to exacerbate student isolation and dropouts (Gauvreau et al.; Naidu 1). Nevertheless, while previous researchers posit online socialisation contributes to adequate soft skill attainment for students, partiality and validity may be lacking within these sources, thereby, the researcher opines that more research is required for accurate deductions. Thus, it can be determined that while the limited socialisation gained via online education means may have hindered the growth of soft skills, it has also been noted that applying methods of incorporating soft skill development into the online programmes has assisted students.
Furthermore, it can be said that student comprehension of academic content through online learning is determined by student–teacher relationships. Most studies have underscored that difficulty in understanding material ensues from the interaction between two parties in an online context. Hayeon Song, in agreement with Fredericksen, has suggested that satisfaction of the student-teacher correspondence enhances knowledge acquisition, as it is of utmost importance to student-perceived learning (Fredericksen et al.; Hayeon et al.). Contrastingly, others debate these statements by advocating that the the relevance of student-teacher relationships in online education is controversial (Trentin, 19; Paterson, 67). Hence, while substantial research is yet to be done to determine the extent to which the issue is significant to student understanding, it has been evidenced that student-teacher relationships in online programmes can affect comprehension of subject matter.
In similar vein, information, communication and technology (ICT) tools utilised by online universities are making the learning process easier for disabled students, with respect to participation, communication and accessing of student material, thereby reducing the strenuousness of student endeavours for them (Pinantoan; MacArthur). The United States of America (USA) legislated disability protection, regarding assistive technology, devised for equality in education, which online education employs to create a productive environment (Pinantoan). While this can be beneficial to disabled students, it was found that students who use these online tools revise slower on computers than when writing by hand (Vacc). This is a counterproductive facet of online education, as the learning process may be prolonged. Consequently, while online education proves to be beneficial to disabled students by providing a supportive environment to facilitate learning, due to this technological dependence, the duration of the studying process disallows for a conducive academic setting.
Therefore, it can be surmised that the difference in socialisation provided via online learning has a considerable influence in the outcome of student development. To an extent, the research has conveyed that, in terms of workplace skills, grasping subject knowledge and granting more educational opportunities, online education has proven to be inadequate. Alternatively, many recent researchers have dissented that these aspects of socialisation are absent but have been improving in online learning. Ergo, gradually, more research should be done on the quickly-evolving online education to pursue more beneficial education systems, globally.