Learning methods keep changing over time. Today students have a choice between online learning and traditional learning. Taking an online or traditional course brings about diverse experiences. In my education pursuit, I have experienced both online and traditional learning. The experiences I gathered from both methods of learning have similarities and differences.
Traditional learning entails face-to-face interaction with an instructor. I went to traditional classes in secondary school. The traditional courses I took allowed me to interact directly with my instructors. I remember my secondary English teacher because she always made time for us and gave us extra coaching in the areas that proved to be difficult. She helped most of my classmates do well in English because she not only taught us the English syllabus but through our interactions, we learned a lot about life. Moreover, most of the teachers tailored the lessons according to our level of understanding which they gathered from the immediate feedback they got from us in the course of learning. They treated us as individuals and the important thing was the pace and not the race in learning. The approach helped the academically weak students to catch up with the rest and at the end of it, all about ninety-nine percent joined college.
Online courses have become very popular with the advancement in technology. I enrolled in an online course in business communication because I wanted to try out the new learning pedagogy. I also wanted to learn at my own pace and thus enrolled in an asynchronous course. I chose my learning time and it increased my responsibility. I was disciplined and did my assignments on time. The new independence in learning thrilled me so much and finding my way through the various learning materials was very satisfying. The instructor posted various learning materials such as videos, e-books and I found the wealth of learning materials very helpful in my course.
Similarities between online and traditional courses
Both traditional and online courses come with assignments. The assignments are used to evaluate a learner’s progress. I did various assignments in both courses and I had to prepare well to handle them effectively. Another similarity I found between the two types of course was submitting them for marking using email. Another important factor to note about the assignments is that there is no major difference between performances (McFarland & Hamilton, 2006). Students who do online or traditional courses perform according to their effort. No method of learning disadvantages the learners as they can perform equally well in both.
The communication style in both courses is similar. In the online courses, the instructors posted the topics and discussions on bulletin boards. Similarly, in the traditional courses, the instructors post the topics and discussions on either the white or the blackboard. In both types of learning, students can communicate with their instructors through the speed of getting feedback varies.
The results of the examination in both courses are made available for students to check their results, in the traditional courses the results are hung on a particular notice board, and in the online courses; the results are published on the website. The students can access their results online. Thus in both cases, students easily know their results. More importantly, online education is recognized and many employers do not distinguish between online and traditional education certificates. One type of learning is as good as the other in the job market.
Some people would think that in online courses one does not need to read. However, that is not the case because the instructors give e-books and other reading materials just as they give books in traditional courses. The students have to read in both types of learning to grasp the course well. The only difference is the way of getting reading materials.
Differences between online and traditional courses
Online courses are flexible than traditional courses. Online learners can attend classes at their convenience. They can log on to classes at any time or place as long as they have an internet connection. For example, when I was taking my online business communication course I visited my aunt’s place out of state and continued attending my online courses something, which would not have been possible with a traditional course. On the other hand, students in a traditional course have to attend classes at a designated time and place. The learners have to attend classes because in some cases class attendance is a factor in the final performance. The rigidity of the traditional courses is not convenient for students who are having other responsibilities such as family or jobs.
Tradition courses offer a rich experience in social interactions, unlike online courses. A learner gets an opportunity to interact with instructors, staff, and fellow students. The interaction gives the learners a good opportunity to improve their interpersonal skills and helps them to be all-rounded students. On the contrary, the interactions in an online course are limited even though efforts have been made to improve them using such forums as chat rooms IM, and email where learners can interact with their fellow students and instructors. However, technology cannot replace human contact in traditional courses.
Cost and time
Online education saves time and cost for students. Students in online programs do not need to commute to class every day thus saving time they would have used commuting just as their instructors do not need to travel too (Wheatley & Greer, 1995). The instructors can update the students on the changes in education instantly, as they do not have to travel to do so (Bisciglia & MonkTurner, 2002). Also, learners do not need to pack and go to college or even rent a hose to stay in while they study as they can study in the comfort of their homes. Similarly, institutions offering online courses save the cost of offering facilities for every student and thus can enroll a larger number of students as the big number will not strain the mortar and brick facilities.
Both types of learning will continue to coexist. Online programs even though they have become very popular and many learning institutions have embedded them in learning cannot replace traditional learning. However, it is important to note that the need for online courses will keep rising as more people seek education and yet the traditional programs cannot accommodate everyone. A person needs to choose between which type of learning suits then best depending on their finances, commitments, or mode of learning. For instance, auditory learners would prefer a traditional course while visual learners would do fine in an online class. Today, the learning environment offers learners a chance to make a choice and they can make the most from both online and traditional courses.
Bisciglia, M. & E. MonkTurner (2002). Differences in attitudes between onsite and distancesite students in group teleconference courses. The American Journal of Distance Education, 16 (1), 3752.
McFarland, D. & Hamilton, D. (2006). Factors affecting student performance and satisfaction: Online versus traditional course delivery. Journal of Computer Information Systems, 46 (2), 25-32.
Wheatley, B. & Greer, E. (1995). Interactive television: a new delivery system for a traditional reading course. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 3 (4), 343350.