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All humans have a unique thirst for knowledge that is acquired in a variety of different ways. Regardless of the type of learner you are, educational opportunities after high school are essentially limited to attending classes on a campus or taking online courses. Due to the variety of ways that people attain information and apply it, whether it be from visuals or hands-on activities, you may find that one option inhibits your individual learning abilities. You may find yourself asking, what is right for me? Should I enroll in online coursework, or apply to a university? In many cases a combination of both options is the best solution this is called hybrid learning.
Studies have shown student success in college can depend heavily on many factors, such as choosing the best type of classroom for you which can include online, on campus or hybrid; assistance from the professor, and the application of the degree earned.
College selection and student success depends greatly on daily life obligations such as financial standing, family responsibility, and job expectations.
Attending scheduled classes at a University forces students to pay attention for a specific amount of time on one subject. This type of structure allows students to focus on one task at a time with little distraction and generates positive time management skills. However, most online coursework is designed to be completed when you have time, which can be beneficial for someone with multiple responsibilities outside of the classroom. Balancing a full-time job, while trying to earn a college education may be easier if you aren’t forced to attend class during a scheduled time.
The same is true if you are coming to college with family obligations, such as children to raise or elderly family to take care of. Online institutions offer the option to get a degree program that fits into a busy or unpredictable schedule (Perdue University Global). You need to ask yourself what option is going to work best for me, and are there other things I will be balancing while attending school? Individual learning abilities such as, physical or visual techniques also play key roles in choosing the type of college that will generate success. Positive results in an academic environment are based primarily on individual efforts such as, reading the textbook or completing assignments on time but without the ability to communicate adequately with the professor, success can be substantially hindered.
Many students struggle with learning and find it difficult to complete coursework without access to constant assistance. Professors are easier to access and communicate with if you are enrolled in on-campus courses. The student having the ability to ask questions during class provides immediate verification of a concept. Which in turn allows for a better understanding. This can be difficult to do in online courses because most internet-based institutions teach through prerecorded videos. Online learning lacks the hands-on aspect of a classroom and the immediacy of verification. However, online learning provides many channels through which students and instructors can interact with each other, these responses can come too late which is discouraging to students trying to learn. These communication channels include email, online chat rooms, and video conference calls. While on-campus learning provides you with the same opportunities, you also receive the additional benefit of in-person interactions (Perdue University Global). These face to face interaction opportunities allow students to get direct answers, learn socialization techniques, and develop well-rounded public speaking skills. Students that are attending on-campus courses also have the option to visit a professor during office hours. This is a time for the student to receive one on one interaction with the professor, without the fear of being judged by their peers. This one on one interaction with the professor is often not an option for those enrolled in online education platforms. The student can trust that the professor will provide them with correct and concise information directly, while online courses involve visiting several websites to find reputable answers. According to Brittany Campbell, a Grove City College music education graduate, attending a university was crucial to her success. “I can think of many times when I would ask questions in class or go to office hours to get extra help. I was a student that wasn’t afraid to ask questions if I didn’t understand” Campbell said. “I would often meet with the professor in his office hours and he had a way of making the material understandable one on one that he didn’t seem to be able to convey in class.” In some cases, online coursework can be used to recover credits lost, meaning that students who have previously failed the course in the classroom have an opportunity to take the same course online to receive necessary credits. Sometimes students who don’t pass an on-campus course turn to online options in an effort to pass the course without actually understanding the material. One example of this can be found at an institution in Chicago where the course in question is algebra. Students who failed the on-campus course were given the opportunity to retake a version of the course online during the summer. In this specific instance, the students enrolled in the online course did substantially worse on course tests, scoring 0.2 standard deviations lower than students who completed the on-campus coursework. This could have occurred from not being able to adequately communicate with the professor or their peers to verify the material and alleviate any questions they may have had. The online students were substantially less likely to pass the course and the end result was a 66 percent success rate versus the 78 percent of students who failed. (S. M. Dynarski). The existing evidence suggests that online coursework should be focused on expanding course options or providing acceleration for students who are academically prepared, rather than shoring up the performance of those who are lagging (S. Dynarski). This goes to show that students are in constant need of reassurance, and in need of extra help to take away the knowledge they learn in order to apply their understanding. Keep in mind that while choosing a degree path whether it is through online learning or on-campus learning you need to be able to receive a job after graduation. The type of education you chose to pursue could limit the number of opportunities you receive while attempting to begin your career.
Many companies look very closely at applicants resumes. You need to be aware that if you chose to earn your degree online this may affect the types of careers you are able to find in your desired field of study. Employers’ reactions to online degrees may vary widely by field. Researching industry held attitudes toward educational format prior to enrolling in a degree program may help you make your final decision to help shape your professional identity (Miller). A 2007 article from the Chronicle of Higher Education stated “those who are most opposed to online degrees are those who are least familiar with them, and the unfamiliar feeling leads to the idea they won’t succeed, or that they haven’t received a quality education. With online courses becoming more common this negative stereotype may be fading (Miller).” If you choose to pursue an online education, it is important to make sure you choose a highly accredited institution. By doing this it could help negate an employers’ fears that you are not qualified for the position you are seeking. Graduates tend to not run into this problem if they chose to pursue their education from an on-campus institution. A 2013 survey report from the public agenda found that 56 percent of respondent employers would favor job applicants who completed their entire degree in a classroom setting (Miller). While there are obvious advantages, and disadvantages of online college degrees, and on-campus degrees there are many more benefits of combining the two platforms and pursuing a hybrid college degree. If you find that you are still confused about what type of learning you would find most beneficial, you might want to consider a combination of both platforms.
Hybrid learning provides all of the benefits of both on-campus learning, and online learning while removing the disadvantages of both types. A study conducted by the United States Department of Education found that hybrid learning was the most beneficial to students. Hybrid learning is the combination of online coursework as well as on-campus coursework. This particular learning method provides students with the ability to increase understanding through many different avenues. With hybrid learning, you have the ability to manage your time more wisely. During the online portion of your hybrid courses, you manage your own time to meet the week’s deadlines and coursework, but during in-class sessions, you still get face-to-face to-do lists and reminders from your professor (Currie). With hybrid learning in play, you get professor and classmate face time. With face-to-face course components, you can connect with your professor or classmates after class to network or to ask a question, this can be extremely beneficial while trying to study, and complete assignments (Currie). Another benefit of hybrid learning can be found in online discussions. Within an online discussion board, everyone has the opportunity to provide their viewpoints, concerns, and give allocate feedback. During in-person classes, the most extroverted students can often dominate the conversation, leading to fewer viewpoints being shared in discussions (Currie). If you’re not one of the most forceful personalities in-person, or if you’re not comfortable with English as a first language, online courses give everyone the chance to form and contribute a thoughtful response (Currie). The benefits of hybrid learning continue because with this type, of course, the learning doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom. In a traditional classroom, you show up for class once or twice a week, and during the time you’re not in class, you’re not connected or holding discussions with your classmates. In a hybrid class, you’re still expected to show up for class when it happens, but you’re also actively participating with other students in the online forum (Currie). Hybrid learning is proven to provide a deeper and more effective learning. The study, “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning,” conducted by the United States Department of Education, compiled research from more than a thousand studies that measured the effectiveness of online, hybrid and in-person learning. The main takeaway from the report was that students found hybrid learning to be the most effective form of learning because of the many different opportunities they had to express themselves.
Overall, the decision of an online education vs an on-campus education is a topic of great debate. As suggested a lot of factors need to be considered when making your decisions. I feel that pursuing an education through means of in classroom learning in conjunction with online learning is the best choice for college students. You receive many added benefits that tend to be lacking from an online college learning experience or a solely on-campus college experience. You are capable of building a network of professional relationships with other students and your professors that can lead to helping you find the career path that you have worked so hard to achieve. Brittany Campbell provided her insights on both types of education and came to the following conclusion “I feel being in the classroom is better than online learning. However, I do see how online learning is necessary for some situations. It seems the rigor and attention can often be stronger in a classroom atmosphere. The online programs where you are required to read and respond to things and never have contact with the professor defeats the purpose of enrolling in a program to receive an education. In my mind, it is all about the quality of the teacher and the student’s drive to want to learn. With those pieces in place, either style of education can be effective.” Only you will know what type of learning will work best for you. Making an educated plan to pursue your goals is the first step in moving your post-high school education in the proper direction to complete your desired life path.
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