The online vs traditional education debate intensified as the world grappled with the pandemic. How many of us would have thought a year ago that the traditional brick-and-mortar school buildings would be left deserted for almost a year?
As students, many of us would have never fathomed the idea of not sitting at desks, not interacting with peers, and not being part of a face-to-face interactive lecture with our teachers.
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Online Vs Traditional Education: One-Size Does Not Fit All
Yet, the pandemic has pushed all of humanity into unprecedented times. We have reassessed all our traditional convections, including our educational concepts. Online education is now part of the new norm.
Before the Pandemic…
Even before the pandemic, traditional online degrees were challenged with the onslaught of massive open online courses offered by various universities and schools worldwide.
Physical presence on campuses is no longer a requirement for many universities and colleges. While in the past, students were required to follow schedules set by universities, students are now allowed to create their own schedules for online classes.
Nevertheless, we can not deny that value of traditional degree courses is still as high as ever.
Students now have two learning options that complement each other: either follow a hybrid method or a stand-alone online method.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to choosing which education method suits you best. Hence, in the online vs traditional education debate, students must weigh both learning methods’ perks and drawbacks.
This article will dig deeper into online versus traditional learning to decide what suits you best for your career.
What is Traditional Brick-and-Mortar Education?
As the name suggests, brick-and-mortar education refers to the traditional form of learning where students can attend on-campus classes and ensure physical presence.
This type of learning always ensures a ‘sage on the stage’- a teacher or professor who delivers a lecture and conducts face-to-face interaction with students.
The curriculum is designed while keeping government standards and guidelines in view. Teachers and students normally always use the standard, government-approved textbooks within a classroom setting.
It is still the most dominant form of education and will likely stay so as many students prefer interaction with peers and professors while learning. This method of imparting education provides students with hands-on experience while learning under a subject expert’s supervision.
Traditional education is particularly crucial for professions that require the development of a specific skill set, such as a pilot or chef. Online courses are not a befitting alternative for expert guidance and in-person training required for numerous skill-based professions.
Perks of Traditional Education
Indeed, brick-and-mortar education will always provide opportunities for students and teachers, and it would be unrealistic to predict the end of traditional degree courses even if it continues to face stiff competition from online education.
There are still many advantages to the traditional form of education, some of which are discussed below:
Interactive or face-to-face learning
One of the foremost features of traditional education is the prerogative of in-person learning. Interactive learning allows teachers and students to understand each other much better.
Teachers point out mistakes and take physical queues and nuances from students during a classroom setting, which might otherwise be overlooked in an online setting.
In-person learning allows for students and teachers to build trust in each other. This trust is integral in boosting students’ confidence and morale before they step into their professional lives.
Creates Self Discipline and Routine
For many students, self-discipline and following an everyday routine is important as it prevents them from slacking off and becoming lazy. Waking up early and ensuring adherence to a strict schedule that is only available in traditional education, is another perk of this learning type.
Following a daily strict morning school routine establishes proper schedules and instills self-motivation, crucial for success as a working adult.
Opportunity for Social Interaction
It is a known fact that students learn from peer-to-peer interaction. The traditional form of education provides students with ample opportunities to initiate and maintain social interactions, develop personal contacts, and search for on-campus job opportunities via in-person interactions.
The mere idea of being placed into a class full of individuals belonging to distinct backgrounds allows for countless opportunities that may not be available in an online setting.
Drawbacks of Traditional Education
As the pandemic hit the whole world, it exposed certain drawbacks of traditional education. When authorities enforced social distancing rules, traditional education failed to provide alternative methods of imparting education.
Online education is seen as a safe and convenient means of providing education during times of distress.
Aside from key benefits, the traditional form of education has certain limitations too, which are discussed below:
Expensive as compared to Online Education
Tuition costs and student loans are two major concerns of any student pursuing higher education or degrees. According to statistics, traditional education costs approximately 80 times more than online education.
Moreover, students who take loans for tuition, transport, and study materials costs, may find it difficult to fully pay off the loan due to the high accumulative interest amount.
Another limitation of traditional education is that it does not allow for flexibility in its schedule. Students and teachers committed to multiple jobs or professions often find it difficult to adhere to the strict schedule of a traditional classroom setting.
Many students and teachers prefer to work and study in close vicinity of their residences. Commuting to universities and campuses located in far-off areas every day could make individuals susceptible to various problems, including traffic jams, stress, car-trouble, or even unpredictable weather conditions.
Traditional education, therefore, immobilizes teachers and students as they are bound to mark their presence in a physical class.
What is Online Education
After the pandemic, you must have heard of online learning or e-learning even if you are not a student or teacher. An umbrella term for any education imparted over the internet; online education occurs across distance and not in any normal classroom.
Online learning is also often referred to as e-learning or distance learning.
Colleges and schools use Learning Management System(LMS) software such as Moodle, Blackboard, or similar software in place of traditional classrooms. All assignments and coursework are submitted online, and discussions are conducted in a forum format.
Online education is considered a convenient learning method that offers greater flexibility, accessibility, and far fewer study expenses.
Online education vs traditional education has been a debate in every household since the pandemic has gripped the whole world. Even though both imparting education methods are distinct, they do still both lead you to a diploma or degree and eventually an exciting career you wish to pursue.
Following are certain statistics that explain the rising phenomena of online education even before the pandemic started. The outbreak has, however, ensured an even greater demand for online education facilities.
Approximately 6 million Americans are pursuing online education, with graduate students two times more likely to earn an online degree than a traditional degree.
Moreover, according to Forbes magazine, 75 percent of the educational researchers and academic leaders now believe that when it comes to the efficiency of online and traditional classes, online classes are now equal or superior to on-campus education.
Almost 70 percent of senior academic officers now believe that online learning is a critical component of the long-term education strategy.
Besides that, 26 percent of the student body now also believe that they learn better during an online classroom setting than a brick-mortar class.
Why Choose Online over Traditional Education?
Aside from being convenient and cost-effective, there are various other reasons why students could opt for an online degree over a traditional course.
Indeed, for any student wishing to undertake admission in a degree program, his/her primary consideration is always tuition costs and the cost of study material. Any form of online or distance education is 80 times less expensive than traditional education.
The average cost of a traditional degree course is $85,000 and greatly varies, depending on the study period’s duration. An online degree course, on the other hand, costs only $30,000 on average.
This vast difference between costs is due to the transportation expenses that a student can save while pursuing online education. Moreover, students also do not pay for on-campus housing or meal plans while learning online.
Other cost-savings may include less expensive textbooks and study materials when students purchase digital versions of books and materials.
One of the primary attractive features of online education is flexibility. Students are given more leeway to schedule their courses according to their flexibility and preference, as online classes run asynchronously from traditional classes.
Because of this, students can set their study timetable according to their work schedule and not be bound to attend compulsory on-campus classes.
Many online degree courses do however still require students to periodically collaborate with professors and other peers during a virtual meeting. Hence, students must keep in mind that they might still have to attend some compulsory online meetings and classes.
Students can conveniently complete their coursework at their homes, coffee shops, the library, or even their workplace. This is another huge advantage of opting for online education over traditional classes, as students are given the liberty of studying anywhere, at any time.
Nonetheless, students must still ensure that they have access to a reliable internet connection and that they can curtail their distractions while learning.
More Pacing Options
Students can follow an online degree according to their own pace. Online education offers multiple pacing options that include synchronous study, asynchronous study, and an accelerated approach.
An asynchronous approach refers to a study course that does not hold scheduled meetings. Students are allowed to complete their work at any pace they desire, although they are of course still required to meet deadlines.
The opposite of asynchronous is the synchronous approach, which requires compulsory online interactions between students and professors.
Lastly, the accelerated approach is a course degree that culminates within 16 weeks and is suitable for those with no external work or family obligations.
Since there is no on-campus atmosphere to create social interaction, no personal relationships are developed between classmates or professors.
All communication is through emails, chatrooms, or discussion groups; therefore, offline get-together chances are minimal.
Troubleshooting Latest Technology
Although it may sound erratic in these modern times, some teachers and students still do not have reliable access to computers and the internet. Moreover, students may be required to accustom themselves to enhanced computer and troubleshooting skills.
Other technical hitches may include long computer boot-up times, non-functioning software programs, and bad connection to the internet.
The online classes vs traditional classes debate has intensified in the post-pandemic world. It is important, however, to shift the focus away from the online vs traditional education debate to concentrate more on what suits students’ needs best.
These two forms of education should not be considered rivals; instead, they should be treated as two complementary education methods. The debate should not be about which is better, as both have their perks and limitations.
Instead, educational institutions should focus on what suits each individual student best.
Schools and colleges these days are amalgamating both forms of education into a hybrid structure or blended learning. As students, we suggest that you weigh all your options thoroughly before making a choice.
Christina Lyon is the author of this educational blog and she is involved with student’s life and education. She has a passion for writing articles related to education including Degrees, Diplomas, exams, students’ experience, and her prime objective is to support worldwide students by answering all their FAQs through this blog.