Main Difference Between Online And Traditional Education


Over the previous decades, online learning has reached the heights of popularity. In the United States, more than 6 million college and university students took minimum one class online according to the statistics of 2010. This stands for a 10% increase over one year previously. In contrast to online learning, traditional college and university education was developing at a much slower rate. The number of students increased only by 6% over the year. This means that online education is probably more effective than traditional one, but before making such a conclusion, there is a need to investigate the differences between online and traditional education. Before thinking of enrolling in online college learning, you should be aware of the pros and cons of both types of education to make the best possible decision. Here are some differences between online and traditional education.

  1. Unlike traditional education, online learning focuses on asynchronous activities, although it might also include synchronous ones. Synchronous activities are the ones that take place at a specific time and in a definite place, for instance, in the classroom environment. Online courses are usually conducted in the form of a web conference. As for asynchronous activities, these mean that students can define the time and place to work on the assignment, which is definitely a great advantage for working students and young parents who are in need of a more flexible schedule than in traditional educational environment. Asynchronous activities are also incorporated in traditional education in the form of homework, but online learning has a tendency to more heavily rely on asynchronous activities to simplify the process of assignment completion.
  2. Another difference is that due to the asynchronous nature of online learning, it requires more discipline and self-orientation. This might be considered both a drawback and a benefit of online learning. For students, it is often hard to make themselves complete the assignment without direct guidance from the instructors. However, at the same time they learn to be more motivated to take full responsibility for their own learning experience. It is often easy not to complete the coursework because of some distractions that the student’s life offers. Nevertheless, online learning suggests that students should be especially keen on time management in order to complete all the assignments on time. Students should count how much time it will take to complete the given task and therefore they should organize their own schedule according to these calculations, which is not always easy. The benefit of this aspect of online learning is that you have greater flexibility to learn at your own speed and according to your own schedule. 
  3. One more difference is that unlike traditional learning, online education suggests that reading is of paramount importance. Online courses heavily rely on reading materials and sometimes are added with multimedia presentations. This does not happen in traditional classroom environment that is more dedicated to direct interaction with instructors as well as lecturing material. If you think it would be hard for you to complete reading-based education, you will definitely find it difficult to learn in online classroom.
  4. Another difference and at the same time drawback of online learning is that feedback in this kind of education can be obtained slower than during face-to-face education. As stated above, online learning greatly counts upon the reading material. If you have some problems with your assignment, your instructors as well as other students will not necessarily to available to give your some advice. This is not always possible for a variety of reasons. If you have got used to receiving feedback on your course material, including comments and recommendations, online learning would probably not meet your demands.
  5. Another important aspect is that unlike traditional education, online learning requires good writing skills from every student. In a traditional classroom, writing skills are just one of the multiple instruments that a student can use in the course of their education, for instance, when being tasked with writing research papers or various college essays. Although it is important for completing writing assignments, you may not necessarily be a good writer to learn in traditional setting. This is because you can always compensate your poor writing skills with some other forms of communication. By contrast, online learning suggests that multiple assignments should be written and sent to your professor via e-mail. Therefore, good writing skills are of great importance to succeed in online learning. This refers not only to writing tasks, but also to the interaction with other students and your instructor. If you have troubles expressing what you need or in case you don’t understand how to articulate your point of view, you will most likely waste your time in online classroom setting.
  6. Unlike traditional education, online learning requires digital intelligence. If in traditional classroom students can have various excuses for not doing homework, the only excuse in online learning is the broken Internet connection or problems with the program. However, this is just an excuse, and your instructor would probably not want to hear it. Online learning therefore requires a much higher level of intelligence in the sphere of technologies. Although you don’t have to be knowledgeable in programming language, it does not mean that you should falter with various programs that you will need in the course of your education. Much success and productivity is achieved when students know how to use various technological means employed in online classroom environment.
  7. The last but not the least, your instructor in online learning is the facilitator of your educational experience, rather than the one who would dictate you what you should do in online classroom. If in traditional educational environment, the instructor is an unquestionable leader of the educational process that stands in front of students, addresses them and maintains his/her power and authority, in online classroom setting, the instructor’s role is restricted to motivating students to digest information and respond to it. This stands for less supervision on behalf of the professors and greater autonomy of students. However, in this case, students should be more diligent and persistent to succeed in the educational field.

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