With online courses becoming increasingly popular than ever before it would be a good time to consider just how does online education differ from traditional classroom learning.
Traditional education would set out an entire plan of a particular course in advance assigning mandatory dates for lectures – if you miss the date you will miss the lecture. The online student, on the other hand, needs to become her own boss in this regard. Due to the flexibility of pacing yourself and working from your own home, one could easily become complacent and stave off rigorous study for a week or two. To the detriment of their own education, they fall in a rut trying to cram a semesters worth of information into a few days of effort. Therefore, the highly organized and self-disciplined will do very well taking online courses.
Reading and Writing vs Group Work
Since there is no direct face-to-face contact with a teacher or other student, online learning relies heavily on the student’s digital reading and writing skills. Communicative students that thrive in group-work, enjoy oral exams, or excel in presentations, will get to see none of their skills come to the fore. Instead, most of your time will be spent on reading the material that is assigned for each particular lesson. Being able to extract all the information and then retain it on your own is what is required of the online student.
This is quite the change since traditional learning would like to have the student read the information and then enter into a classroom discussion with your peers in order to examine the reading you have done and make an informed judgment about the ideas present. Traditional education would also have the teacher contextualize the material and fill in the gaps where the author did not manage to adequately cover all the groundwork.
Communication With a Teacher
Communicating with your tutors is all done online and immediate feedback is not available. The advantages are that the student gets to reformulate the problem that they find in the material in their own words in written form and gets the tutor to address this particular problem. The disadvantage is that there is no immediate follow-up. No one wants to read a long email, but a quick 15-minute conversation can cover much more ground and cover horizons that were instigated by the teacher’s response. Nothing compares to a quick and meaningful exchange in the classroom.
One of the most important advantages to traditional education is left out in the space of online learning: networking and getting to meet new colleagues that share similar interests to your own. From cordial collegial relationships to a full-blown romance – all is available in the space of the university. Unfortunately, online learning misses out on a very important part of a student’s livelihood. Sharing information that you attained or even practical experience related to the material is sometimes tantamount to getting the best out of the reading material.
Last but not least, examinations again favour those that are faster with the keypad. It is most certainly the case that if you are slow at typing you will struggle not only with the material but with the exams as well. It would be even worse if the exams were timed but few courses hold exams under a strict 2-hour time limit.