E Learning vs Traditional learning – How different are they?
We live in a busy world and it’s only getting busier. For those of you looking to study, whether studying for the first time, improving your career prospects or looking to learn more about something you’re interested in, the real challenge is fitting it your coursework and assignments. This increased need for flexibility is why universities are offering more online courses than ever before.
But what’s the difference between traditional and online study? We thought we’d step you through some of the major differences so you can see if it would suit your learning style, and your lifestyle.
E Learning vs Traditional learning 1 – Time management
One of the biggest differences is how your time is organised.
Traditional classes mean that you have to attend class at times set by the university, but online study usually involves weekly requirements (such as posting discussions) rather than ‘attendance’, meaning there’s no fixed time when you have to do your classwork.
This is fantastic if you need flexibility, but it means that you need to be paying attention to your own deadlines; you can’t just turn up to class and expect to be told about assignments and when they’re due, you’ll need to go hunting to find that out.
E Learning vs Traditional learning 2 – Interaction with other students
There are lots of different courses online and how engaged the students are in the course will depend on not only the course itself, but also the level of study (i.e. undergraduate or postgraduate).
In my experience, most people on campus have a little more time than their online counterparts for socialising (and it’s always easier to chat when you’re face-to-face), but chances are that if you’re busy, you don’t have much time to go out and take advantage of student-priced drinks on a Wednesday night.
If you’re doing a course to socialise, you’re probably better off to do it on-campus, but if you’re keen to meet like-minded people, you might have to accept that they live in another state.
E Learning vs Traditional learning 3 – Quality of teaching
Some of my fondest memories of my undergrad are from sitting in the lectures with the ‘fun’ lecturers, the ones with great stories that kept you engaged.
I also remember those lectures that dragged on forever with no break in the middle, but the point I’m making is that the teaching quality is rarely going to be as good online as it is face-to-face. Partially because you miss that opportunity for ‘quick’ questions with a lecturer or classmate, but partially because you’re getting all of your information from recordings or readings.
With that said, if you’re a diligent student then you’ll be reading and asking questions in your own time, and a good online tutor will answer questions that are only tangentially related to your classwork (and you won’t feel like you’re holding them up).
E Learning vs Traditional learning 4 – Explaining it to family and friends
This is going to sound really strange, but much like working from home, people imagine that studying online is somehow less work. Obviously this isn’t true, but a lot of people don’t trust that you can do something worthwhile from the comfort of your own home outside of business hours. If you need a lot of support for your study, know that you may not get as much as you need unless you communicate to people how much work you need to do.
There are obviously more differences, but hopefully these few have given you some ideas about whether online study would work for you, or whether it’s worth making the time to attend classes on campus.
The important thing to remember is that no matter what you wind up with the same piece of paper, so it’s important to pick whatever works best for you. When selecting a university, make sure you check on the services they offer students and find out whether they differ for online students (they usually don’t). If all else fails, call them up and ask them about any concerns you might have – you won’t be the first person to do it and they should be able to allay any concerns you might have. At the end of the day, do what’s best for you!