September 18th, 2013 by schoolbound
Welcome to the debate. And it IS a debate. If you google the title of this article you will get a plethora of varying opinions on the subject. And I truly believe it is totally subjective. There is no right or wrong answer here, it just depends on what you are looking to accomplish, what you are looking to get out of your educational experience, and where and who you are right now in your life. Let’s break it down a bit…
There is a lot to consider and depending on your previous education you have many choices- from what degree you should work towards, to how and where to get it. If you have already been to college previously you know what that on campus experience can be like and that could sway you in either direction, on campus or online. If you have never been to college and this is your first foray, you should do some research and decide which way you learn best. For some people the physical act of going somewhere, being in a room with other students and seeing a teacher is the only way they can absorb information. But just because you get yourself submersed in the classroom does not mean it is a guarantee for focus, there can be many distractions.
College classes, especially lecture halls are rife with 18-20 year olds chatting, texting, eating, sleeping, reading, writing, video gaming- you name it. Granted you are getting the full sensory experience and for some, this is the only way to go. It all depends on your learning style, your ability to ignore distractions and focus, your technique and ability to retain and comprehend the information that is provided for each assignment. On campus learning requires you to be at class on time and ready to go, working your schedule around the class schedule. There is a much more social aspect to campus learning, student discussions in person and interaction with the instructors, and just the simple act of physically going to class may set some people in the right mind frame to learn. It really depends on the experience you are looking for and how you think you learn best.
Online courses are convenient for working professionals, parents, students with a busy schedule or schedule conflicts, or people who live far from a campus. In today’s job market, taking online courses can help workers remain competitive without the need to take time off from their jobs. The accessibility of online courses provide flexibility as courses can be taken at any school anywhere in the world, on your own time in your own home with peace and quiet (as long as you have peace and quiet in your home!). This allows broad access to coursework and instructors that would not be available if you were to choose local courses in your area. Students need to determine if online learning is an option for them because not everyone does well with this type of study. Some questions that any potential online students should ask are whether or not they can learn independently; how organized they are with their time; whether they are computer savvy; their level of reading comprehension; and if they have at least ten hours a week to devote to each course. It takes self-discipline, motivation and focus since it is up to you to get started and stay current with your courses.
Some people find online learning better than campus learning because of the convenience, but many make the mistake of assuming that an online class will be easier than one taken in a traditional classroom. Often online instructors assign more reading materials than required in a regular classroom to ensure that students are engaged. Motivation is key to an online student’s success as is his ability to reach out to both instructors and fellow students using software such as Blackboard. This is software which seamlessly integrates social media, making it possible to create online communities that are course specific. Blogs, tweets, podcasts, webcasts, online chats, discussion boards, and virtual study “jams” are all part of the online mix. Some classes are on-demand so you can watch the lectures over again if needed, some are on services like youTube and can be paused, and some are live online so that you can interact via chat. Success in an online course often depends on how connected a student feels to his instructor and fellow students. Cost is also a factor to consider as online courses can be more affordable than campus courses in terms of not only tuition but travel expenses and time investment.
It varies greatly among institutions and classes, but there is something for everyone. It just depends on what your cup of tea learning style is. Just like anything in life, you get out of any college coursework what you put into it, whether it is on campus or online.