Since the emergence of online learning, there has been a discussion on whether online classes are better than traditional classes. There have been competing schools of thought with valid arguments for and against both.
In the case of distance learning, it may be most appropriate at colleges and universities. Research data consistently indicate that students strongly prefer distance education.
Distance learning allows students to balance their other commitments more effectively, at least in cases they are adult learners, commuters, and part-time students. They don’t believe that they sacrifice a quality education for the convenience of utilizing distance learning.
However, both traditional and online learning comes with advantages and disadvantages. When is online learning more convenient than traditional learning? This blogpost indicates the real potential of online learning versus traditional classes.
|Table of contents|
|What is Online Learning?
|What is Traditional Education?|
|Online Classes Pros & Cons|
|Traditional Classes Pros & Cons|
|Shift Towards Online Education|
|Online Classes vs Traditional Classes: Which One Should You Choose?|
In online learning, students attend classes on the Internet and involve in real interactions with teachers and students at the other end. Students can attend the curriculum at their own pace and easily access the class from anywhere.
Online Learning is a reality and gradually becoming part of formal education. This educational model appeals especially to anyone who can’t attend a physical faculty or school. Online Learning also hops the national boundaries and is offered for dispersed college students that can have a wider choice of online programs.
How does online learning work? Learning management systems (LMS) provide an accessible exchange of information between professors and students. Τhis way, students can view learning material at their leisure or even attend scheduled conferences or lectures.
Concerning test-taking, learners can submit course assignments through the LMS, participate in a discussion, or submit other tasks. Lastly, professors may provide feedback to the student through comments or emails when using this LMS.
While distance learning may be most appropriate at colleges and universities, this doesn’t mean that it can replace traditional learning at all settings or that it is more effective than traditional learning. For example, early studies of Daymond and Blau (2008) and Yerby and Floyd (2013) showed that online students perform as well but not better than traditional students.
Traditional education requires students to attend classes in person and on campus. It appeals to learners who want to live a real college experience. Counselors and professors are available for additional assistance and guidance on campus.
In traditional classroom settings, hands-on training during class can take place (e.g., in a laboratory). Students interact with fellow students face-to-face and get involved in many hands-on projects.
Depending on the class schedule, students attend two or three classes per week, either during the day or in the evenings.
Before we go into further analysis, here is a summary table of all online classes’ pros and cons.
|They save time||There is a lack of adequate supervision|
|They offer custom learning||There is a lack of interpersonal skill development|
|They support lifelong learning||There is a lack of student motivation|
|They cultivate self-discipline skills|
|They cost less (for both parties)|
|They improve students’ technical skills|
|They offer extra credits|
They save time
Online classes save time for students because they can decide on day-to-day scheduling. Students can progress at their own pace and from their homeplaces. They have the flexibility to set their every-day routine and cultivate a personal learning atmosphere. Also, a lot of time is saved by avoiding time-wasting commute.
They offer custom learning
Apart from flexibility in time, there is also flexibility in the studied material. Students in many cases can experience tailored coursework according to their learning style or needs- this is especially true for undergraduate Virtual Schools. It also worths mentioning that online courses offer shy students the opportunity to participate in class discussions more easily than face-to-face class sessions.
They support lifelong learning
Online learning can also prove essential to many adults. Some people never finished high school and want to get an actual diploma without having to step back into the classroom because they work full-time. Online learning offers a variety of options. No matter what students study, they can find the courses or programs they need online (from a career certificate to a doctorate).
They cultivate self-discipline skills
Online education requires that students improve their time management skills. Unlike traditional education in online education, students need to possess a lot of intrinsic motivation. Hence, they can develop greater self-discipline.
They have lower total costs
Researchers have proved that distance higher education reduces costs due to specific factors:
Other factors are: Avoiding commuting costs, course material (like books) provided at no cost, housing near the university. Lastly, students can use the alternative of massive open online courses (MOOCs) to gain credits.
They improve students’ technical skills
The participation skills students learn within their online courses translate to many professions, including creating and sharing documents, incorporating audio/video materials into assignments, completing online training sessions, etc. Some schools even offer students free laptops or iPads.
They offer extra credits
Students can earn college credit through online classes and transfer their credits to their basic college they are studying (e.g., during summer vacation).
There is a lack of adequate supervision
Online education requires that students hold a certain degree of self-discipline. For some students, the lack of supervision may amount to too much freedom, which may make them fall behind without anyone letting them know.
There is a lack of interpersonal skill development
Online courses sometimes may hinder interpersonal skills gained by students. In traditional classrooms, students are required to speak their minds, give presentations and speeches. They are also required to work face-to-face in groups with all kinds of people with many differing viewpoints. These procedures bring in very crucial interpersonal skills. However, online learning involves none of that.
There is a lack of student motivation
When students receive face to face teaching, they come across verbal feedback and constructive criticism, which instills in them a motivation not to want to let their teachers down. This makes them more motivated to succeed in specific fields. Evidence shows that although there are no significant differences in the community between the traditional and online learning, this sense of community is more sensitive in the online environment, and more considerable attention is needed to avoid failure.
Here is a summary table of all traditional classes’ pros and cons.
|Students learn to work under pressure||There are additional costs|
|They cultivate interpersonal skills||There are is no flexibility in study hours|
|Students gain more confidence in public speaking||There is a narrow variety of interactions|
|There is greater motivation||They are not suitable for introverted students|
|There are lab sessions|
Now let’s see in detail each one of them:
Students learn to work under pressure
In traditional classrooms, students learn more easily to work under the pressure of time. Besides, during their professional careers, they will need to complete tasks in a certain amount of time. Assigning in-class activities that need to be finished in a couple of hours, for example, prepares students for the professional world.
They cultivate interpersonal skills
In a traditional classroom, it is easier for professors to evaluate students’ strengths and weaknesses and give guidance. Also, businesses now need great interpersonal skills to hire someone. Traditional physical classrooms better cultivate the essential interpersonal skills.
Students gain more confidence in public speaking
Like the rest of interpersonal skills, confidence and ability to speak in the public are only cultivated when students are required to interact with a live audience. Students learn how to carry themselves in a professional manner.
There is greater motivation
Online learning may sometimes encourage procrastination. Interpersonal communication sometimes is crucial to keep students engaged and fully satisfied with the learning experience. Also, on-campus opportunities are more: Attending conferences, campus parties, concerts, and cultural events. One certain thing is that traditional classes offer a stronger sense of fellowship.
There are lab sessions
Most degrees require lab hours. On campus classes can provide a substitute for actual hands-on experience. Sometimes, employees prefer graduates from traditional institutions because they have extensive and relevant lab experience.
There are additional costs
Traditional education requires costs such as commuting to a faculty or college, accommodation and equipment for class.
There are is no flexibility in study hours
Because students have to physically attend classrooms, there is less time in pursuing other tasks. Therefore, they have to organize their daily tasks based on class attendance.
There is a narrow variety of interactions
In traditional classrooms, social interactions are limited to local people. Their knowledge base is limited because unlike online education, they do not have access to people from other countries to acquire a global perspective.
They are not suitable for introverted students
In a traditional classroom setting, students feel more pressure when they have to orally answer specific questions, or infer a conclusion. On the other hand, an online classroom allows students to feel more comfortable and express more freely their critical thinking.
Education has changed dramatically in recent months, with the distinctive rise of e-learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools were shut down all across the world. Globally, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom.
The pandemic taught us that schools and faculties must be at any moment ready to go online and teach remotely and through digital platforms. The changes which coronavirus has brought might be here to stay.
Starting an online school is a piece of cake. With the plethora of online learning platforms and learning management systems – LMSs, out there, today it’s easy to start your own online school. Using a state-of-the-art online learning platform like LearnWorlds ensures that you are offering all the social and learning features to provide an equal learning to traditional learning.
Workload that has to be completed by students remains similar between traditional and online courses in either format: Exams, papers, presentations, and projects. Each of these activities may come with a deadline that learners must meet. Weekly readings and course lectures surface in both delivery methods.
However, each choice is more suitable for specific instances. Traditional education might be the best for a social classroom experience fit. However, for a more flexible option, online education is more beneficial.
Both online and traditional education each have their perks. So, it seems like we need to get the best of both worlds.
“Blended learning” is a new type of learning that is becoming increasingly popular. In blended learning environments, students experience a combination of online tutoring as well as offline, face-to-face interactions.
Hybrid courses are a panoply of course options available to students and teachers. This new type of instruction prompts faculties to revisit questions about pedagogy and improve student learning.
What’s the take here?
Both online and traditional have their place, and depending on the situation, one might be better suited than the other. Whether you are deciding which one is best, you will need to think of it in a case by case scenario.
What would be the best way to reach your students?
What costs might be involved with each?
Is this the best way of teaching the subject and interacting with the students?
While you are deciding on how to teach, you might want to consider one or the other or a blended approach of the two.
So, what would it be?
Anthea is a Course designer and Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team. She holds years of experience in instructional design and teaching. With a Master of Education (M.Ed.) focused in Modern Teaching Methods & ICT (Information & Communications Technology), she supplements her knowledge with practical experience in E-Learning and Educational Technology.