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Just a couple of decades ago, online education was a concept hardly imaginable to many. Most of those who are in their 30s and above spent a great deal of their childhood at school, attending classes while sitting in front of the good old chalkboard. Nowadays, things are not that simple. Distance education, better known as online learning started a revolution in the schooling system. The 21st century offers us numerous possibilities for learning, inside and outside the classroom, for both children and adults.
Both systems have their pros and cons. Sometimes, it’s hard to decide which one is suitable for you, and unfortunately, in some cases, you don’t have a choice. Let’s see some major differences between classroom schooling and online education that might help you to make the best choice.
The Main Benefits of Classroom Schooling
Classrooms are still the most popular educational environment—and not without a good reason. Even in poorly equipped classrooms, this type of education has many benefits. One of the greatest advantages that most experts highlight is being in the same physical environment with your classmates. Being in direct contact with both teachers and other students and experiencing face-to-face communication has social, psychological and physical benefits—not only the educational ones. Students learn how to interact with other people, feel as a part of the group and find themselves in different social situations.
Another benefit of classroom education that online learning can’t substitute is acquiring knowledge through “hands-on” use of techniques and tools. In well-equipped classrooms, students have access to computers and other helpful devices and teachers are there to encourage them to active learning and discovering new skills. As students have direct contact with teachers, they can engage in communication without delay and get immediate feedback and answers to their questions. This makes it easier for teachers as well, as they can meet their students in person, evaluate their learning abilities and adapt to them.
Potential Downsides of Classroom Education
Classroom schooling may have certain disadvantages as well. Some classrooms aren’t well-equipped for students with certain medical conditions and are not suitable for those who are geographically isolated. Also, the shortcomings of different teaching methods become more visible than in distance education. Most teachers opt for one of these two strategies: cooperative or competitive learning which both have their cons (increased competitiveness, inability to evaluate the work of individual students, frustration of students who are not advancing as quickly as their classmates do).
What can we gain from online education?
Although it has been widely introduced quite recently, online education has been around for some time. It exists in several forms (e-learning, virtual training, mobile learning, etc.) and provides different study options for those who are not willing or can’t participate in classroom schooling. Distance education is the only option for students with certain medical conditions that prevent them from attending traditional classes. Also, it’s the most suitable option for those who live in remote and isolated areas.
The direct exchange of ideas in traditional education can be substituted with online forums where people can discuss various topics. The only difference is in the method of expressing their opinions and asking for feedback—instead of in person, students are doing that indirectly which helps in developing their writing skills. Enhancing time management skills and having more flexibility are considered other pros of online learning. Most employed students are not able to attend classes due to their work hours. Also, the results of success rates between online and offline college students are surprising—in favor of online students who got better test results than offline students.
What can we lose by online schooling?
The advantages of online education probably outweigh the downsides, but they still need to be mentioned. Attending a massive open online course won’t contribute much to a student’s socialization process. Regardless of the students’ age, networking in the classroom might be crucial in landing a job after getting a degree. Other factors that can pose obstacles to successful online learning are problems due to unreliable technology, high costs of certain online programs, distractions at home and the lack of diverse studying tools. In addition, the increased flexibility can be a double-edged sword: some people find it hard to stay disciplined and the dropout rate is higher than in classroom courses.
What can we conclude by analyzing differences between classroom schooling and online education? They both have their pros and cons and it’s up to you to decide which way of learning suits your personality, budget, and current situation. Whichever you opt for, take advantage of its opportunities and have in mind that you’re responsible for the positive outcome as well.