Education online is becoming increasingly popular these days. Many students prefer it because they find it more convenient than traditional courses; at the same time, it is considered to be no less effective. Some teachers consider it a remedy for overstretched school budgets. Others see it as another way for teaching students; sometimes it is viewed as an alternative educational way. Students are now able to obtain online degrees as an alternative to traditional classroom education. Nowadays different schools advocate either an online degree or a traditional degree. So let’s see the pros and cons of both in order to come to an effective decision.
Supporters of traditional education state that traditional colleges can never be eliminated because there are some advantages that online colleges cannot provide. A school is a place where children grow up, and there is no institution that can offer such possibilities for communication. Schools do not only offer information, but they also teach pupils how to deal with people around them, how to make friends and help each other. School is a model of the society we live in; different social layers are represented in it. Teachers and pupils must see each other in life, so they can easily communicate after school.
In school, it is easy for teachers to control and take care of their students. If pupils have a question to ask, he/she can do it immediately. But online students still have greater access to the teacher, because they do not have to rush off to the next class. They can their teacher countless questions via e-mail.
Traditional education requires that a student has to be physically present at a predetermined location at a definite time. But studying online you can be anywhere in the world. It is important for me now when I am in the military. I can still access my learning material whenever I have time to do it (Cooper, 52).
A traditional course with the instructor in the room allows discussion and an active learning process by means of face-to-face communication with other students and a teacher. Online education cannot provide the vibrancy of a classroom, but it still allows interaction with teachers and fellow students in a virtual classroom. As for me, I attended a course in Sociology. What I liked about it was the opportunity for students to teach each other, critique, comment upon, and even develop course materials. Recently the students of my group were asked to give an example of human behavior which is deviant in all cultures. More than 125 responses were contributed by twenty-five students of the group; rape, terrorism, murder, and other behaviors were considered to be universally deviant. I think that the discussion was more effective than that traditional one when the answer is provided by the teacher.
In the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom, the teacher asks a question, and usually, the same students raise their hands. Their answers are often spontaneous because the time for discussion is limited. But in the online classroom, every student is supposed to respond intelligently. The students have an opportunity to consult their course materials and think over their answers carefully. So the quality of discussion heightens (Weller, 78).
It is a well-known fact that to improve writing skills one must write more. Online courses are more writing-intensive than traditional ones. In both traditional and online courses, the most important assignments must be submitted in written form. As for online courses, all requests for elaboration, group projects, tests, etc are in written form too. So if an instructor requires that the assignments should be carefully written and proofread, the writing skills of many students tend to improve throughout their studies.
Traditional education follows strict schedules and is a time bond; students have to meet all deadlines. As for online courses, they set flexible time schedules that meet students’ requirements. It is especially important for working learners because online courses can be fit in their working schedules. But this factor can become a deterrent for those students who perform better when pressurized by stricter timelines (Rivard, 39).
Education online is more student-centered, because whether a teacher uses lecture, or role-playing, or any other technique, he/she is still running the show. It is also important to say that the online experience fosters self-motivated education. Online students learn to use Internet links, discussion boards, e-mail, etc. This ensures the autonomy of the learner, which is very important because in our everyday life we don’t have a teacher to direct us and to help us.
But in fact, education online is just another tool teachers choose to deliver quality education. When school administrators resolve to provide instructions online, they have to make choices that start with reasonable policies. It is also important to decide whether school leaders have to create online courses of their own or buy existing ones. Training of faculty and support are also important. Though online education greatly differs from traditional ones, it still achieves the same learning objectives. So it is for the student to decide which form of education to choose.
Cooper, Linda W. “A Comparison of Online and Traditional Computer Applications Classes.” T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education) 28.8 (2001): 52.
Rivard, Nicole. “Taking College Fairs Online: With the Obvious Advantages of Saving Time and Money, Colleges Are Finding That Online Fairs Can Help Recruit Students Efficiently. but There Are Obstacles to Overcome on the Web.” Matrix: The Magazine for Leaders in Higher Education 2001: 38+.
Weller, Martin. Delivering Learning on the Net: The Why, What & How of Online Education. London: Kogan Page, 2002.