By Richard Mann, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Out of the eight million higher education students in Brazil, around 20 percent take distance education courses, a teaching method which is highly sought after as well as criticized.
Bruna Moura likes administration, but she stopped going to college. Now she studies wherever, remotely, and she only highlights the advantages: she doesn’t have to deal with that hassles of catching the bus after leaving work and everything else, as well as the price. The tuition she paid dropped from R$580 to R$150 (US$37).
In Brazil, the number of students enrolled in university level distance learning courses has reached almost two million, which represents 21 percent of all higher education students in the country.
The structure is that of a complete TV channel. The professor now records a class, and the audio and video technicians follow the recording.
Another study that’s going to start soon is a live literature class for English majors. A transmission like that might reach up to 250,000 students, which is the number enrolled in that university’s distance learning programs.
Some classes and all the distance education exams are in-person, at testing centers which are located throughout Brazil. In the last four years, the number of these centers has grown from about 5,000 to more than 15,000.
But experts question the quality of that kind of education, where interaction between student and professor rarely occurs.
“These distance learning colleges shouldn’t turn into diploma mills,” points out César Callegari, an educational consultant in São Paulo.
One of the entities that represent private colleges has recognized that distance education in Brazil grew very quickly and that the model needs to be perfected.
Jeniffer de Souza also thinks that distance education needs to improve. She works 12 hours a day as a beautician, and she decided to study Physical Education remotely.
She wants to run a Pilates clinic, but practice classes are only held once a month. “I think that there should be more in-person classes because it’s vital, especially in that Physical Education field, which deals with the human body,” comments de Souza.