The college experience is filled with partying, hang out sessions in dorm rooms, bad cafeteria food, and classes in huge lecture halls. This concept is very old school. The new image of college is taking a course in your pajamas in front of your computer at home.
With the advancement of technology, online and distance learning has become very popular among college students. With this new method of pursuing a degree available, you need to contemplate if an online education is a good choice for you. In order to help you evaluate what is best for you, you need to understand the similarities and differences between online education and traditional education.
Comparing online versus traditional education
Both online education and its counterpart have pros and cons. This is why it’s important for students to understand what to expect before they make a decision on what is right for them. This comparison focuses on three key areas that make an impact on a student’s experience. We’ll also take a closer look at what a “blended learning” model has to offer. We will evaluate 3 areas that make an impact on a student’s experience. In addition, we will also explain the “blended learning” model.
1- Online vs. traditional education: Flexibility
An important factor to consider when thinking of all of your options is the amount of time you have every day dedicated to schoolwork. Do you have enough time in a day to commute to a college, attend class, do homework/study, and commute back? Or do you need some flexibility?
The major benefit of an online course is that it is flexible. This flexibility is wonderful for people who have a lot going on in their life, but still, want to pursue an education. Online classes can fit around your schedule. It allows you to log into your online course at any time.
In general, most online courses follow a weekly schedule. During this week, students will have to read course material, contribute to discussions on forums, and complete assignments. All this is done on your own schedule, but must be done before the new week. You will still have a heavy load of assignments and lectures, but it is on your terms. You get to decide if you want to watch a lecture or do homework at 2 am.
Traditional education means that you sit in a classroom and enjoy the classic way of taking courses. This requires a less busy schedule. Lots of classes are offered in the evening or they only meet once or twice a week. This allows students a bit of flexibility to work during the day or do other things. However, if you have a long commute then the flexibility is not there. A long commute can make schedules more difficult, especially when you are trying to plan other activities.
2-Online vs. traditional education: Discipline & self-motivation
Another factor to consider is if you are self-disciplined enough to do your work on time. Self-discipline is definitely required for both traditional and online education, but the courses are structured differently. This difference in structure can have an impact on your ability to stay on top of your courses.
Online education definitely gives you a lot more flexibility with your schedule; however, you must be extremely motivated. Even if a class is online, it requires you to keep up with the required assignments, reading and lectures. In most cases, students have a hard time staying motivated and self-disciplined when they do not have to physically attend class.
This does not mean that you will not succeed in taking online courses. The most successful students develop strategies to stay on top of their assignments. Some examples of these strategies include dedicated study time and an environment with limited distractions.
Traditional education has a more structured schedule of attending classes, turning in homework, social interactions, and exams. All of this helps keep students on track. Traditional education provides students with many weekly reminders of upcoming tasks.
3-Online vs. traditional education: Social interaction
The last thing to consider is the social aspect of traditional vs. online education. Is having a social life important to you? Will this help you stay on track and stay motivated? Or are you a lone star who likes being alone in order to succeed.
Social interaction with classmates and your teacher is different in online education. Most of the time this occurs using video chat or through online discussion forums. Lots of times online courses offer pre-recorded videos of lectures that were given in traditional education.
Even though online education has found many ways to keep students engaged and social, the traditional college experience is still the most obvious choice for students who need the face-to-face interaction. Traditional education also helps students who love to ask questions.
Online vs. traditional education: The blended education model
Hopefully, by now it is becoming clear to you that both online and traditional education each have their upside. So is there a way to get the best of both worlds? One option that is increasing in popularity is called “blended learning.”
The idea of a blended education model is to try doing both the traditional, in-person learning and online coursework. A blended model varies from teacher to teacher and course to course. An example is a program that offers some courses on campus and some online. A single class may have a component that requires a student to be in class and another which requires the student to go online.
As you can see by now, traditional and online education both have pros and cons. In order to experience the best of both worlds, a blended education approach is recommended.