The Benefits and Disadvantages of the Growing Popularity of Online Education in the United States of America

Categories: Online Education
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Online learning is more effective for me as an expressivist writer because I am able to express all of my thoughts quicker and in an isolated environment. Cyber schooling is a growing form of education throughout America. There are many different perspectives of this practice. However, the disadvantages are trumped by its large amount of advantages. The great amount of advantages are why it is becoming so popular.

100 years ago, it would be hard for anyone to comprehend an online school where teachers and students are not face-to-face.

This is all changing due to new technology and distance learning. In Hope Kentnor’s teaching dialogue and curriculum she writes, “Today’s version of distance education is online education, which uses computers and the Internet as the delivery mechanism with at least 80% of the course content delivered online.” A student undergoing a distance education is physically separated from the teacher. The Internet is the teacher’s main tool in communicating with their students.

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The teacher uses computer applications to help further the student’s education. For example, there is an online website called “blackboard.” Students receive their own login information for this website. After logging on, all of the content for the upcoming week is in neat folders on the side of their home page.

Virtual schooling is a growing phenomenon and a popular alternative nationwide. There are many different ways a student can learn over the internet, just as there are many different ways a student can learn in the classroom.

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Jane Andrade tells readers about these different ways by saying: “Virtual or cyber schools refer to the entities that deliver instruction, often over the Internet, but also through two-way video conferencing.” Teachers have many options as to how they would like to present their material. The lessons are conducted in the online classroom. The classroom can change from day to day, featuring different methods such as discussion boards, live video chat, powerpoints, and more. A model of this could be current online classes offered at community colleges where professors use many different learning tools in their virtual classroom. Basic english classes are assigned to read certain chapters from a textbook, along with powerpoints to guide the reading. Afterward, they are required to participate in a discussion board with other classmates about what they just read.

Students all have individualistic preferences in their learning environment such as time, method, and content. Online education can help accommodate students who learn at different rates than others. In a nationally published source, an author talks about the various ways students can learn online by saying: “-learning can be synchronous, where students work with a teacher and possibly other students in “real time,” or asynchronous, where students work at their own pace on their own time” (Andrade). In the virtual classroom, students and teachers tend to work at their own pace. There are due dates but there are no specific times during the day when a student must log on. This contradicts the classic meeting times associated with the traditional classroom. For example, cyber professors often release all of their assigned work at one specific time. Students can use this opportunity to get ahead or to fall behind. The responsibility is on the student to choose the appropriate pace.

Online education is becoming so popular because it is so universal. It accommodates people from all backgrounds, even students who struggled to receive an education before. In the article “An Overview of Online Education,” it lists out the people who mainly benefit from online education by saying: “They are busy working people, often on shift who want to advance their career, frequent travelers, those who physically find it difficult to attend college and parents who want to, or have to, spend more time at home with their children” (Sing). College is often very daunting to some people because of the time and money that must be invested into it. There are many people who do not have the time, money, or even the transportation to receive the gift of a collegiate education. Cyber schooling appeals to people by offering a brand new method of receiving this gift. For instance, there are way more cities than there are colleges. Thousands of people do not have the opportunity to live near an institution. Online education changes the game for them by giving them the luxury of going to school right in their home.

A huge benefit to online education is it’s accessibility. Not only is the location more accessible, so is the content. Chi-Sing Li talks about this convenient accessibility by saying: “Students can gain access to information including syllabi, course assignments, scoring guides, powerpoint presentations, and supplemental materials 24 hours a day and seven days a week”. In the physical classroom, papers are constantly being handed out. It can be much more difficult to access these papers compared to easily accessible and neatly labeled folders. Students who have trouble staying organized or find it easy to get off topic, benefit greatly from online classes. For example, a student who finds himself/herself off topic can miss important directions for an assignment. They will have to waste valuable time trying to figure out the instructions. In an online classroom, the directions are there to stay… in bold, right above the assignment.

Virtual classrooms can be highly beneficial to some but detrimental to others. This form of education has been proven to have a high retention rate. Jack Fisher explains the retention rate by declaring to readers: “Students who have trouble with motivation and self- discipline may sign up for an online class but disappear halfway through the course.” Attendance is not monitored in the virtual classroom. Students do not associate with friends who can increase their motivation to come to class. There are no incentives for attendance, there are only due dates. A case in point would also be at the community college level. There is a drop period, where students can drop the class without receiving a grade for it. Many students who wait until the last minute to complete their school work realize time is lacking and opt for the easy way out- “dropping.”

Students can become lost and hopeless in their online learning courses due to confusion. For students who are hands-on learners, online classes can be a nightmare. Arthur Hunt, in his published article talks about these hands-on learners by saying: “Students often need to see, hear, and feel what the real thing looks like; Without a flesh-and-blood model, many students do not know what to do.” In traditional classrooms, teachers are able to physically show students their expectations on assignments. Professors can present specific models to students to help further their understanding. Not only can students in the physical classroom actually experience their learning material, they can receive assistance from their peers. For example, chemistry can be a very hard class to learn online. This hands-on class is based around actual chemicals. Without seeing the chemicals interact with each other, it can be extremely hard to understand the formulas.

From the expressivist perspective, online education is effective because the writer is able to develop themselves through their essay and doing it online does not take away from the personal tone or self-discovery whatsoever. In an expressivist essay, the author is revealing inner thoughts to their paper. The author is writing any thoughts that come to their head about a certain topic or even about no topic at all. There is not a correct format that they must follow. The purpose of an expressivist essay is to embark on a writing journey that can lead the author to new knowledge about themselves. Peter Elbow, a professor and author, said *When I am talking to a person or group and struggling to find words or thoughts, I often find myself involuntarily closing my eyes as I speak. I realize now that this behavior is an instinctive attempt to blot out awareness of audience when I need all my concentration to for just trying to figure out or express what I want to say” (Elbow 50). If the writer has any awareness of their audience it can actually be a hinderance to their work. It is much harder to express themselves without inhibition when they are thinking of their readers. When authors are just writing away without any audience awareness, readers can clearly see their personal tone. This is the whole method behind an expressivist piece. Writing freely, without inhibitions, in an author’s own individual way. When I write in my personal journal, I am really exhibiting an example of this type of essay. Many expressivist authors draw most of their work from their journals. Journals often have little to no format. Authors, such as myself, are generally writing just to get jumbled thoughts out of their head. I have no awareness in my journals for the audience. I’m not thinking as the audience is thinking, I’m just writing without inhibitions.

In Susan Griffin’s expressivist essay, “Our Secret,” the reader can recognize key aspects of an expressivist piece such as self-discovery, personal tone, and a unique format. Susan Griffin connects different aspects of the lives of strangers to her own life. She frequently switches topics without any notice just as one would in their own mind. Griffin, at regular intervals, asks herself questions, then goes on to answer them herself. Griffin writes, “What is it in a life that makes one able to see oneself in others? Such affinities do not stop with obvious resemblance, there is a sense in which we all enter the lives of others” (346). Griffin is studying the life of Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Nazi police. She compares his childhood to her childhood and makes connections between the two. After writing for sometime about the comparisons, she questions herself. She is wondering why she feels the need to put her in his shoes. Susan Griffin is working to figure out her own self and why she is writing about these connections. She has no regard for audience, she is only writing what she is feeling. Drawing back to my personal journals, I can find many similarities to Griffin’s expressivist piece. When I am writing to express myself, I often begin to question why l’m doing it in the first place. I feel like I’m writing to no one which is exactly how a true expressivist work comes about. I continue to write with these unanswered questions often to the point of answering the questions myself. A reader can literally witness the path I am to self-discovery.

I connected the most with expressivist essays because of my personal journals. There is so much truth in a journal entry, or an expressivist piece. Susan Griffin reveals secrets that we keep within ourselves and we keep from the ones we love. Anyone who reads this piece can personally experience the impact she has on readers by exposing universal truths. An analyst of her essay talks about the impact it has and the truths she revealed by saying, “Our Secret’ took courage to write, and it bravely asks a reader to consider unpleasant subjects and to slow down. Slowly it teaches one how to read it and begin to appreciate its many layers, its juxtapositions, its depths” (Gilbert). It takes bravery to be so honest with yourself. Susan Griffin does not hold anything back. She explicitly talks about many details of her childhood. By doing so, she forces the reader to make connections within themselves. When authors are writing to specific audiences such as in the social constructionist essay, the truth is lost. The author becomes focused on writing for the reader and does not touch on subjects that many people do not want to explore. For instance, in my personal journals, I, too, speak explicitly about childhood details. Sometimes, for protection, humans bury events deep within themselves. When something causes pain or suffering, humans want to push it to a place where they don’t have to think about it. Expressivist writing publishes these repressed thoughts by the continuous connections being made. Expressivist writing can make such a difference in people’s lives, the readers and the authors, because it can help one to learn and grow as a person.

In online education, one is able to move at their own pace. They do not have any other students in their classroom. It is often just them and a computer screen. Expressivist writing is not affected in any way by online education. Cyber schooling, because it is isolated, can enhance the experience of writing without an audience. There are no classmates around to compare work with. There is also no time limit exposed. All the characteristics of online education, such as asynchronous learning and an isolated environment, actually assist the student in writing an expressivist piece. The author is still able to properly use their personal tone, and develop themselves in a virtual atmosphere. When I am writing a personal journal online, I can often create a much more well-rounded piece. Sometimes, my thoughts are moving from place to place and they are hard to keep up with. They are often going faster than I can physically write down. Many of my thoughts are lost in the process because I am thinking something else by the time the sentence is scribbled. When I am typing online, this problem is completely taken away. I can type everything I am feeling and reveal my inner thoughts better.

There are authors who believe that online learning is not effective for creating and developing an expressivist essay. One argument is over the limited privacy of the internet. Many times what we write online is available instantly for everyone to see. There is the argument that authors have an increased audience awareness while typing on the internet. Feelings do not come out as easily while typing compared to while writing. Critics claim that what people write on the internet is nothing more than who they want to appear to be. They say that authors are creating a persona rather than expressing who they really are. Many authors are mindful of the fact that what is put online is out there permanently. Feelings can change over time and writers can become extremely remorseful of what they once wrote on a blog, discussion board, or social media. Because of all the animosity and limited privacy that comes with writing online, true feelings are not expressed. The opposition argues that due to the publicness of the internet, expressivist essays are greatly impacted.

Other arguments target the impact the internet can have on a personal tone. Expressivist authors are often much more recognized than other authors. This can be caused by the personal tone used in their essays. Readers are able to recognize and remember certain authors. Many say that typing on the computer takes away this personal tone and recognition. The computer makes many automatic corrections. Sometimes it capitalizes words that authors don’t mean to capitalize or space swords they weren’t meant to be spaced. Some authors ask questions to themselves throughout the essay that the computer labels grammatically incorrect.

While the argument about audience awareness is valid, expressivist essays are more about an author’s path to self discovery than it is about audience awareness. Authors are still able to express themselves fully while typing on the Internet. Many English professors even prefer to do their expressivist essays through discussion boards. Students often feel much more isolated and much more relaxed to type about their feelings. They don’t have to worry about sharing with their classmates. Also, discussion boards can help students to stay on topic. During the development of an expressivist essay, it is easy to get off topic. I can attest to this. Sometimes, I’ll be writing about my thoughts that lead to another thought and before I know it, I don’t remember what the assignment is about. Students can easily refer back to the discussion board instructions and create their best work.

Although the controversy over personal tone is also credible, the benefits of online education greatly outweigh the disadvantages. Authors are able to type at the same speed they are thinking. Writing out thoughts and sentences can take a great deal longer than typing them. While doing so, many of their original thoughts are lost. Even though an author might not have the same personal format to their writing like they would in class, online learning makes it easier for them to get out everything they are feeling. This causes for the writing to be much more complete and well-rounded. Questions are able to be fully addressed and none of their thoughts are left out.

Despite the controversy that comes with online education, it is still very effective for me as an expressivist writer. Online learning is effective for me because I can express my ideas quicker and do so in an isolated environment. Cyber schooling is not something that we, as Americans, can get away from. Most institutions are adopting this form of education and people must learn to adapt to it.

Work Cited

  1. Andrade, Jane C. “Clicking Through Classes.” Clicking Through Classes. Sept. 2005. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.
  2. Bartholomae, David, and Tony Petrosky. Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999. Print.
  3. Bartley, Sharon Jeffcoat. “Evaluating the Cost Effectiveness of Online and Face-to-Face Instruction.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society 7.4, Ontologies and the Semantic Web for E-learning (2004): 167-75. JSTOR. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.
  4. Elbow, Peter. “Closing My Eyes as I Talk: An Argument Against Audience Awareness.” ‘Twentieth-century Rhetorics and Rhetoricians: Critical Studies and Sources. By Michael G. Moran and Michelle Ballif. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000. 50. Print. Fisher, Jack. “Can We Afford Faster, Better and Cheaper?” Insight 2.4 (2000): 49-50. Web.
  5. Gilbert, Richard. “Our Secret by Susan Griffin.” Richard Gilbert. 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 28 Jan. 2016. <>.
  6. Griffin, Susan. “Our Secret.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. By David Bartholomae and Tony Petrosky. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2005. Print. Hunt, Arthur W., III. “Cyber Schooling.” Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity 26.4(2013): 17-19. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.
  7. Jung, Insung. “Cost-effectiveness of Online Teacher Training.” Open Learning 20.2 (2005): 131-46. Web. Kentnor, Hope E. “Distance Learning in the United States: The near Future.”Distance Education 8.1 (1987): n. pag. Web.
  8. Krämer, Bernd J., Jonas Neugebauer, Johannes Magenheim, and Helga Huppertz. “New Ways of Learning: Comparing the Effectiveness of Interactive Online Media in Distance Education with the European Textbook Tradition.” Br J Educ Technol British Journal of Educational Technology 46.5 (2015): 965-71. Web.
  9. Li, Chi-Sing. “An Overview of Online Education.” College Student Journal42.2(2008): Academic Search Complete [EBSCO]. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.
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The Benefits and Disadvantages of the Growing Popularity of Online Education in the United States of America. (2023, May 24). Retrieved from

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