A student is sitting in class at her desk taking notes, occasionally watching the clock. A million things are running through her mind. At the same time, another student is also sitting at a desk and occasionally glances at the time. Although certain assignments have to be done, she gets up from her desk with the promise to return later that evening.
The difference is that the student who has the option of returning to the unfinished project is enrolled in online courses. While regular campus courses provide a great education with a friendly-learning environment, online-courses can aid students in a fast-paced, independent education. There are pros and cons to both of the different learning atmospheres.
Being enrolled in a campus course requires the student to attend scheduled classes that the school decides. The student’s choices in class times and when to work on assignments are extremely limited. Class times may fall at a time when one must work, or they may fall at the only time that is convenient for one to spend with friends and family. Attendance can become a big issue as professors only allow a certain number of absent days before the student fails the course. Campus classes offer social interaction that can help a student with the course. In class, the students have the chance to hear the opinions and theories of other students. This allows for peers to exchange ideas and questions with one another without communication barriers. The student’s professor will be able to convey much information in lectures and be able to interact with the students face-to-face. Although this interaction can be beneficial, it can also ignore the individual learning differences amongst students. Students are usually grouped. This grouping isolates learning deficiencies and makes it difficult for the instructor to provide the necessary close attention that individuals may need to learn.
Online courses do not have a scheduled time, so the student is not limited as to when to access the class. Online classes provide the student with laxity to work, vacation, and spend time with friends and family. These courses allow the privilege of working at the student’s own pace, as long as all assignments are turned in and on-time. Because online learning is still fairly new, adequate teaching methods have not yet been determined due to insufficient research. This questions teaching methods and the effectiveness of student comprehension. Students attending these classes can communicate with other students via e-mail and message boards about a particular subject. This enhances the learning experience, but it makes reading emotions in heated discussions a bit more difficult. The professor is always available and can usually be reached through e-mail or in his or her office at the school campus. However some of the campuses of online schools are not located within reasonable distance to the student, making teacher/student visitation difficult and/or impossible. Some programs offer a combination of both online and classroom styles of learning for the same course. This allows for benefits of both styles of learning to be recognized and experienced.
The truth is that there are advantages and disadvantages to every type of learning environment. It is important that students evaluate their learning skills before choosing whether to attend a lectured class or take online courses. It is best to use the advantages that each method offers to the full extent. Learning also depends on the individual’s motivation to learn. How much the student will retain and benefit from the overall experience depends on how much effort the student puts into his or hers education.