Online and traditional classes each have pros and cons. Interest in Web-based courses has definitely grown dramatically in the early 21st century. An August 2011 Pew Research Center study revealed that 77 percent of colleges offered online education. When deciding which is better, each student must look at each option and consider his own personality and tendencies.
A common knock against Internet classes is the lack of face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers. In classrooms, instructors listen to instructors, have the ability to ask direct questions, participate in team activities and conduct information social relationship building. Online, communication generally occurs through course discussion forums and e-mail with the instructor. English and religion professor Jane Rosecrans suggested in a July 2012 editorial to "The New York Times" that her students were more comfortable engaging in discussions online because of the lack of pressure posed by the traditional classroom.
Your study habits are a key factor in selecting the right class setting. A February 2013 article in "The New York Times" noted that high attrition rates in large online university classes are often attributed to struggling students who lack discipline. Web-based classes rely on the student to engage the materials, discussions and tests, as well as to approach the instructor, on his own initiative. You also need the discipline to schedule study time without regular teacher and peer accountability. Of course, poor study habits won't work well in a traditional class either. However, you at least have face-to-face interaction and more direct opportunities for feedback and direction from teachers.
A major driver of online classes is the cost savings for students. While traditional institutions often charge 10 to 15 percent more per credit for Web classes, online universities on the whole have lower tuition and fees for a degree earner. Plus, online classes don't require the student to travel to and from class. This leads to gas savings and prevents vehicle wear and tear. Plus, students have greater freedom to work as needed to pay for school.
One of the overriding strengths of the online class is the flexibility it affords. For a non-traditional student with a family and a day job, a three-day class that meets from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. may simply not work. With an online class, the student normally allocates his own class time to read, complete assignments and participate in required discussions. You do have deadlines, but you can do your work on nights and weekends. Plus, an online class allows a student to enroll from a distance to far to travel for a traditional class.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.