Compare and Contrast: Traditional v. Online Classes

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Compare and Contrast: Traditional v. Online Classes

This essay attempts to compare and contrast the effect of online classes and traditional on-campus classes. The comparative analysis is developed based on the mode of learning, class attendance, performances, assessment, teacher’s instructions and assessments (Diaz and Cartnal 132). Online classes and on-campus class attendance are two teaching methods that are used to administer lessons in a great number of universities. Online classes are usually offered to distance learning courses while traditional on-camps classes are offered at schoolhouses. Although the two teaching modes may seem to have completely opposite approaches, there are several common denominators that unite them.

Both methods require the students to use and study the information materials that are provided by their instructors. The students are required to assimilate the information provided by the instructors. For the on-campus classes, the instructor may encourage students to make notes, or distribute handouts containing the instructions and resources for the students. For distance learning classes, the students and lecturer communicate by the use of internet-based technology. The instructor usually sends the reading materials to students through via email.

Another similarity between the two learning styles is that both of them use textbooks for learning. Both the traditional classroom attendees and distance learners use textbooks as well as online resources to accomplish their classroom assignments. Both methods require access to the internet. Therefore, a person can research on a topic using various websites online. Further, learners of both modes access the same textbooks, and there is no discrepancy in the content of materials.

Teacher’s instructions are another similarity between the two modes of learning. Students of both online classes and traditional mode of leaning use the instructions from their teacher. In traditional classes, students have a face-to-face contact with their instructor while he or she provides the instructions. Depending on the online program design and the type of class being taught, a distance learning student can manage to view and listen to the lecture presented by an instructor during the traditional class session. Most of the traditional class lectures are live but not pre-recorded ones. In the case with distance-learning students,, the instructor can provide the pre-recorded lecture so that the students could view it at their convenience. In some online classes, instructors may have online programs where they interact with their students one-on-one, without providing a classroom lecture. In both cases, students are in a position to interact with their instructors. In addition, they are able to access the instructor’s instructions about the learning process.

Assessment of students is another similarity observed in online teaching classes and on-campus classes. As indicated by Diaz and Cartnal, both the traditional and the online classes involve undertaking of formal tests and assessments (134). In both cases, students need to undergo tests, which are organized by their instructors within the scheduled period. Lecturers can set the limit of completing the tests and assessments and allow open or closed book testing techniques. Further, the content of online and classroom tests is the same in regard with tests and assessments. However, the evaluation of these tests may be limited. In both cases, the teachers can manage to monitor the progress of the tests since they are done formally. Therefore, cheating during the examination can be easily detected in both cases.

Another similarity between the two learning styles is the completion of assignments. Both the on-campus classes and the online learning programs require accomplishment of assignments by the students. In regard with the distance-learning students, the term ‘homework’ may not have much significance since most of the leaning activities including assignments are done at home. However, regardless of the place where the assignment is done, the students of both methods must complete their assignment according to the instructions of their teacher. Scientific studies, mathematical problems and written papers are among the disciplines that are covered in both learning structures. In most cases, the classroom students have an opportunity of editing or grading other students’ work, or even their own written assignments. The online students also manage to edit and grade their fellow student’s work by exchanging it electronically.

Another similarity between the two leaning methods is student discussion session. Both the online students and classroom attendees are able to form discussion groups. In these groups, they manage to share their understanding of lectures and handle assignments. In traditional classes, students form discussion groups while at school, most probably after a lecture. Distance learning students on their part form online discussion groups, mostly by means of internet and social media sites and programs, such as Skype.

However, there are numerous differences between the online classes and the on-campus traditional classes. The first difference is that the online classes can apply both the synchronous and asynchronous mode of learning and activities while traditional classes are only focused on synchronous learning. Synchronous activities as indicated by Rovai and Jordan, refer to the mode of learning, which can be comfortably employed at any scheduled place and time (39). The scheduled lessons may include the classrooms, chat room or a web conference. Asynchronous activities on their side refer to the mode of learning where the student has the authority of determining the place and time when he/she is going to complete the academic work. Therefore, the asynchronous mode of learning gives an advantage to working students and learning parents as it implies a flexible schedule that helps pursue their education at their own convenient pace. Further, traditional classroom teaching relies more on the asynchronous activities, while the online classroom relies more on the asynchronous activities.

Another notable difference between the two modes is the fact that online learning requires paramount reading as compared to the traditional learning. In distance learning, most of the activities and learning materials consist of the assignment, notes and multimedia presentations. On rare occasions, the instructor is involved in directing or explaining various concepts to the students. As a result, students are required to undertake an intensive reading in order to understand the concept. In contrast, the traditional classroom lessons rely mostly on the instructor’s lectures and face-to-face instructions and explanation. Therefore, the students have the opportunity of clarifying the difficult concepts during the classroom session.

The duration of feedback is another significant difference between the online and traditional forms of learning. As it has already been mentioned, online education mostly concentrates on written material and instructions. Therefore, when a student experiences difficulties,, the lecturer or peer students may not be readily available to provide feedback and explanation directly. Although an effective professor may make himself/herself available through various online methods, the feedback will not be immediate. In the case with traditional classes, the student has an opportunity to clarify issues in the class and receive a direct feedback from the lecturer or from fellow students. As a result, he/she has an access to an immediate answer.

As another difference between the two studying methods, Rovai and Jordan indicated that the two settings have different networking and social interaction atmosphere (41). The traditional classroom learning offers an opportunity for the students’ interaction in the campus. Students form bonds of togetherness depending on what they share in common. However, distance-learning program may incorporate students from all over the world. Due to the distance between them, their level of social interaction and networking is not strong.

As indicated by El Mansour and Mupinga, online activities operate under individual pursuit as compared to the traditional classroom setting (242). In the traditional learning process, the whole activity involves a group activity. Most of the students’ activities are performed in groups. Such activities include attending lectures, discussing assignments or passing tests. In its turn, almost all online learning activities take place individually. Although there is an argument that distance-learning students interact with others online, it mostly implies a person sitting alone in front of his/her computer, without a physical companion. Hence, online learning is considered more individualistic as compared to the traditional classroom setting.

Another notable difference between the two settings is the level of relationship between the teacher and the students. In classroom-based session, a different dynamic atmosphere is created for every class due to face-to-face communication. The ability of the students and their lecturers to interact creates a lively atmosphere, and every class differs from the others. As a result, there is a conducive environment for leaning. However, the online session lacks the interaction forcing teachers to use chats, online forums, and other programs in order to build a community. Further, giving group assignments by lecturers becomes a difficult task since the students are dispersed. Similarly, the students do not have the opportunity to know their instructors in person. This indicates that there is a feeble relationship between the teachers and their students. Further, Diaz, and Cartnal, indicated that while traditional classroom sessions allow the students to have personal relationship and support from their teachers, distance learning program only offers an electronic mode of communication (131).

From this dissertation, it is evident that there are several significant similarities and differences between traditional on-campus session and the online classes. The both teaching methods considered convenient for learning depending on the preference of a person and the circumstances surrounding him/her.