Which would you prefer, learning online or sitting in a physical classroom? With the advent of technology the question of which is better has become difficult to answer. However continuing education has become much more accessible due to online classrooms. Focusing on the benefits and drawbacks between learning online and the traditional classroom will provide valuable information to make an informed decision.
It is obvious that each method of learning has its own benefits and drawbacks. One example is the traditional classroom provides face to face instruction with immediate feedback, while online is less formal and individualistic. Web-based learning has a dynamic nature that allows for near instantaneous sharing and updating of information. (Thrasher, Coleman & Atkinson, 2012) The traditional classroom is a more static learning environment, only able to update information less frequently.
Understanding online learning versus the traditional classroom requires some definition. The traditional classroom is defined as a physical setting at a college campus or other area that students gather to receive teaching and instruction. Typically this is a classroom with seating for students with an instructor giving a daily lesson. An online classroom is a virtual location of the designated school where students discuss topics in a forum. Individual lessons are studied and submitted to a designated location within the online environment. An instructor is assigned to provide feedback, guidance, and instruction in each lesson.
The traditional classroom is still highly valued as a teaching method for the benefits it provides. Having and instructor on site provides an immediate interactive learning environment. Depending on the course, there is hands-on learning with lab work and experiments. There is also peer review within the classroom and interactivity among the students. John Higgins of Accenture Learning cites a study from ITtraining consultancy stating that traditional training approaches are more popular today than in 2004. (“E-learning versus the,” 2007)
Drawbacks to the traditional classroom include lag times in feedback on homework assignments. There are students who don’t participate in classroom activities due to shyness and do not fully benefit from the classroom environment. After class help is not available after a certain timeframe. The classroom setting is not designed for the working individual. As a full time employee, it is very difficult to schedule classroom activities into a full day of employment, family time, children’s activities, appointments, and other responsibilities.
Online learning has many benefits, yet it is not for everyone. In the business perspective it is cost effective and easy to align with the business needs. It also includes reduced employee turn-over and a more highly motivated staff. (“E-learning versus the,” 2007) Online learning is designed for the working individual to schedule into a busy life. Since classes are online there is no specific time that students need to be in class. Students are able to attend classes on their own time, be it in the morning, after work, or even throughout the day. Class materials, sometimes, are provided electronically within the virtual classroom, eliminating the cost and weight of multiple books.
For every benefit there is a drawback and online learning has its fair share. Online learning requires a high level discipline that not everyone is able to maintain. Distractions in the home abound ranging from children needing help with homework to cooking meals. Internet connectivity can be an issue when the internet goes down or during power loss. Online learning can also suffer from computer problems, viruses, data loss, even hardware failure.
Everything in life has its benefits and drawbacks. It is up to each individual to determine personal needs and wants in life and how to best achieve those goals. It is very important to research online learning and traditional classroom learning to determine which method best suits individual needs and goals. Which would you prefer, learning online or in the classroom? That is a question that only you can answer.
E-learning versus the classroom. (2007, March 12). IT Week,
Hernandez-Julian, R. & Peters, C. (2012, April). Does the medium matter? online versus paper coursework. Southern Economic Journal, 78(4), 1333-1345. Thrasher, E., Coleman, P., & Atkinson, J. (2012). Web-based versus classroom-based instruction. Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 7, 1-9.