The Differences Between Online and Traditional Classroom Educations
Online education is becoming increasingly popular, but how do you know if online courses are right for you? Read on to discover some of the differences between Web-based and traditional classroom experiences.
Online or On Campus?
These days, there are many different ways to access higher education. You can enroll in a traditional program, attending classes and accessing educational resources on campus. You can also enroll in an all-online program, in which the majority of your schoolwork and communications are completed via the Internet. Or there's the in-between option: Blended learning environments that combine on-campus and online coursework.
How do you know which option is right for you? The following guide covers some of the major differences between online and on-campus courses to help you decide what method will best meet your needs.
Online courses typically allow students to work asynchronously, which means that they can complete their coursework at the time and place of their choosing. This is often ideal for working students or single parents who need a flexible schedule. However, students who struggle to be self-motivated may find that they quickly fall behind.
Gone are the days when distance learning meant that you had to correspond with your instructor via snail mail, or even email. Today's Internet-based courses typically include opportunities for instant communication such as message boards, online chatting and even videoconferencing.
But even a video conversation can't replace the experience of face to face interaction. Students who thrive on the quick exchange of ideas between professor and students may find that they prefer the classroom environment to online courses. On the other hand, students who experience anxiety when they're called on to speak during class will enjoy the time to reflect on their responses offered by online courses.
For many students, social interactions are a key aspect of the college experience. If you're planning to meet new people and expand your social and professional networks, it's important to take at least a few classes on campus.
However, online courses aren't entirely devoid of interaction. As noted above, some include message boards and videoconferences that link classmates to each other as well as to their instructors. Furthermore, many online classes are taken by people from all over the world at the same time, offering an opportunity to make digital connections with people who you would never meet on campus.
Learning and Skills Development
Of course, the primary reason you're in class is to learn and develop new skills. For some students, this can be very difficult without the direct, face to face input of an instructor. If you don't learn well from books and other written material you may find that you struggle with online coursework, particularly when you don't receive swift feedback.
However, online courses offer some unique opportunities for skills development. It's important to be somewhat comfortable with computers before you embark on an online class, but most students find that the experience helps them develop a whole new set of useful technical skills. Online courses also typically involve a lot more writing practice since there are few opportunities for answering questions verbally.
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