Saturday, December 24, 2011

Free Versus Paid Membership Sites

Education is gradually tilting today from the classical classroom as we knew it, towards a virtual context thanks to the internet. This trend comes with challenges which raise the following concerns:

1) How well prepared and credible are the contents published by personally owned websites online?

2) How can educators deal with irrelevant and immoral content on learning websites displayed through affiliate marketing and advertising networks; that tend to sway away users from their initial track?

3) Are paid membership sites a better option for educators who need to be sure of the quality of material they use and children who need to be protected against viewing obscene content?

Generally, most people feel that free things are expensive in the end on the one hand and other hand people fear falling victim to internet scams under cover of paid membership websites which end up still being poor in content. Some even end up being completely void of content. It is therefore up to educators to carefully examine and select the content they intend to use, be they on free or paid membership sites.This is not in a bid to discredit material coming from such free websites but it is more of a hinting note for those regularly using them. It is also a hint for parents and home-school tutors who let their kids wonder into dark corners of the internet without guidance. It is very obvious that children will be carried away by flashy adverts displayed through advertising affiliate programs and published through some of such sites; and these most often interfere with the site content. This can be detrimental especially to children who are left on their own to study, play games online or to search for educational materials.

Webmasters who create learning material for children are gradually becoming aware of the implication poorly presented or obscene content could have on their reputation and website ranking online. But with the dilemma of relying on advertising through their websites as the only source of income, it is hard for them to fully control user behavior on their sites. This continues to resonate the fact that paid membership sites remain a better option for children who undertake self-study on the web. They are also better for teachers of pupils who may not have time to cross check the quality of their materials before use. Their advantage lies in the fact that users have the possibility of contacting webmasters and laying complaints in case they find difficulties using site contents appropriately. The decision about using free or paid learning materials online for kids can be made more beneficial by instructors if prior assessments are always done.

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