Online Learning vs. Classroom Instruction

With the rise of online learning in recent years, students have more options with which to accomplish their educational goals. They can take a course, or even earn a degree, entirely online, receive

Image courtesy of sixninepixels at
Image courtesy of sixninepixels at

traditional classroom instruction, or utilize a combination of these options, either throughout their curriculum or within a single course. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages depending on factors such as personality, learning style, time commitment, and computer literacy level. Understanding these influences can help you construct your course, whether it is in class or online, to ensure that your students receive the best learning experience.

Some of the benefits of online instruction are:

Increased flexibility – Students can access an online course at any time from any computer with internet connection, whether that be at home, the library, or a café. This makes it easier to fit a course into their schedule when they have responsibilities like work, children, or other commitments, in contrast to a traditional class, which would only be offered at certain times that may not fit the student’s schedule and preclude that student from taking the class.

Can be tailored to different learning styles – Many online courses come with a variety of resources, like videos, simulations, links, and articles, and the student can choose which resources to use according to how they learn best. Online courses also allow students to manage the pace of their learning, as opposed to having to adjust to the pace of their instructor and classmates. They can skim material that they already understand, while devoting more time and concentration to lessons which require more of their efforts to learn.

Encourages participation in class discussion – The relative anonymity that online courses offer can make students who might not speak up in a classroom more comfortable with participating in online discussions, which can contribute more ideas and add to the learning experience of all the students in the course.

The advantages of classroom instruction are:

Immediate interaction with instructors and peers – Classroom instruction offers in-person access to the instructor and classmates. Students can ask questions and contribute to class discussions, as well as receive answers and feedback immediately, rather than waiting for their instructor or classmates to see their posts or e-mails online. Hands-on activities and group projects can further enhance students’ learning experience. And interacting with instructors and peers in person can also better facilitate personal and professional relationships.

Offers a set schedule and structure – For students who may not quite have the self-discipline and time-management skills to complete an online course, traditional classroom instruction can provide that needed structure and motivation to successfully complete the work. Having a set schedule to attend class can help students manage their time more effectively, and having to submit work and take tests in person, which will eventually be graded and handed back in person, adds a certain sense of accountability that students may not feel in an online course, where those same interactions feel more anonymous.

Fewer technology requirements – For students that do not have access to a computer or internet at home, or who don’t have the level of computer literacy necessary to take an online course, a classroom course is beneficial for receiving on-site assistance from their instructor with any technological issues or questions they have.

We offer solutions that will optimize your students’ classroom and online learning experiences and help them attain their educational goals. Contact us at Labyrinth Learning to learn more about our full solutions for business and accounting courses, and also beginning- and intermediate-level computer courses.

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