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Participation of Distance Learning Students in Experiments

Participation of Distance Learning Students in Experiments
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Author(s): Eduardo Costa (Utah State University, USA), Jamil S. Barbar (Universidade Federal de Uberlândia (UFU), Brazil), Reny Cury (Utah State University, USA) and Junia M. Rocha (Utah State University, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch233


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The main negative criticism against distance learning is that laboratory work is an essential part of all branches of technology and natural sciences. One can infer that this is so from two observations: (a) Colleges have residence requirements mainly because the faculty believes that this creates an opportunity for practical work; (b) Many scientists, like Carl Sagan and Karl Popper, think that controlled observations are important components of the learning process (Popper, 2002, p. 191). Even in human sciences, hands-on work prevents blueprints for unrealistic social engineering projects. In arts, supervised practice and rehearsal is desirable, to say the least. In Earth sciences, Astronomy, and Astrophysics the student has to examine paleobiological records, reconstruct the history of sediment records, collect samples or investigate the availability of samples from individual researchers and repositories, perform observations, and deploy data acquisition systems. Most distance learning systems ignore observations, practice, sample collecting, and laboratory work. Therefore they are vulnerable and open to criticism in regards to the experience and practical knowledge, given by those institutions that offer degrees based on distance education, and so are not recognized in many countries.

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