by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.While the types and methods of distance education continue to grow and evolve, potential students should consider some identifiable factors common to all types before enrolling. While these factors are not applicable to every distance learning situation, they do apply to most.
After reading these pros and cons of distance education, you should more closely examine the online programs that most interest you to be sure they fit your life, job, and career needs.
Distance Learning Pros:
Here are some of the benefits of distance education courses.
Convenience — take online courses when you need them, not based on some college’s annual or semester schedule. A course is as close as a computer with an Internet connection.Flexibility — with no set class times, you decide when to complete your assignments and readings. You set the pace. In some programs, you can even design your own degree plan.Availability — distance-learning opportunities have exploded over the past few years, with many accredited and reputable programs.Cost — prices are often cheaper for online courses than traditional college and trade courses — with no housing or meals plans to worry about.Self-Directed — you set your own pace and schedule, so you control the learning environment.Time Spent in Classroom — now you can take a course on just about any subject without ever having to be in — or travel to — a classroom so you have very little wasted time. Note, however, that some distance-education programs still do have an in-class component.Accessibility — with an online course, you can work on the course just about anywhere you have computer access.Better for Some Learners — distance-education courses are often better for people who learn through visual cues and experiential exercises and those that require more time, are language-challenged, or introverted.No Travel Expenses — you may never even have to leave your house to take an online course, and certainly there are no relocation costs.No Interrupting Job/Career — because distance learning courses are located in cyberspace and controlled by your pace, there is no need to quit your current job — or even take a leave of absence — to go back to school.
Distance Learning Cons:
Here are some factors that could negatively affect your success with distance learning courses:
No Instructor Face Time — if your learning style is one where you like personalized attention from your teachers, then online education will probably not work for you.Perceptions/Reputation — while slowly changing as more and more mainstream colleges and universities embrace distance learning, there still is a stigma attached to distance education.Requires New Skills/Technologies — if you’re not computer-savvy or are afraid of change or new technologies, then online education will probably not work for you.No Social Interaction — while you often interact with classmates via email, chat rooms, or discussion groups, there are no parties or offline get-togethers.Making Time — if you are a procrastinator or one of those people who always needs an extra push to complete work, you may have a hard time making time for your online classes.Little Support — students are expected to find their own resources for completing assignments and exams, which is empowering for some, but daunting for others.No Campus Atmosphere — part of the traditional college experience, of course, is the beauty of the campus, the college spirit — but you have none of that with distance-education courses.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this quiz? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
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Since the past decade or so, online education has emerged as the finest method of learning.
All age groups are benefiting from it. The increase in the rate of students’ involvement in the online learning courses is high.
As per Online Learning Consortium, one in every four students is enrolling for online courses.
In this article, we will give you an idea on why online learning is just as good as classroom learning.
We will discuss:
- Growth of online education
- People reaping the benefits from online study
- Online classes vs. Traditional classes
- Finest online education platforms
Growth of online education
According to the latest reports, around 88 percent of the Americans had access to internet till July 2017. Growth in these numbers started in the early 2000s.
According to a survey conducted by the Babson survey research group, more than 6.7 million got enrolled in online course.
Online education came into existence in 2002. From 2002 to 2011, large number of students have enrolled for online courses.
People of all ages are using this method to learn. Working adults are using it to continue their studies while on the job.
Parents are getting their young kids enrolled in the online courses to help them learn additional things.
The old aged people are also using this method to continue their studies.
So, you must have gained the idea of the popularity of the online study. Now let’s learn on how online learning is helpful for its different user base:
Online education for K-12 students
Young kids are familiar with the constant school transfers due to the change of location of their parents’ job.
It hinders their academic progress much as they cannot continue their studies in one school.
Same can be said for the students who can’t go school due to some medical condition or disability.
Today, all such students can continue their education due to the continuous rise of the online education.
Many schools throughout the US are providing the kids with the option of distance learning.
These study programs involve online learning or blended learning (a combination of online and in-person learning).
To be more specific, 27 states are offering these online courses to the young students.
Around one million kids are also enrolled in these courses.
Online learning for adult students
Many adult students prefer doing a job instead of pursuing higher education in the traditional method.
Online learning is the easiest option for such students to continue their studies.
The online courses in the US has the same academic calendar as the institutions that provide the courses.
In some courses, you have to pace your studies yourself. In others, you have to follow the schedule of the on-campus course.
That means you have to write assignments and take exams as well. Some of the universities also offer courses through their websites.
These websites offer you rich content as well as audio and video tapes on the various topics. MIT OpenCourseWare is one such online teaching website.
These are the learning methods you can use not only in the US, but all over the world.
These online education methods can prove beneficial for you in many ways.
Fees are also affordable and you can take the class at the time you wish.
You also don’t have to worry about commuting to the college.
Online education for the old age people
There is a quote that says
“you never stop learning”.
This line proves right as lots of old age people are learning through the various online learning programs today.
It is understandable they feel the need to keep learning out of boredom or curiosity.
It becomes tough for them to learn through classroom learning.
Online education is something that comes handy to the old age in getting back to learning in such times.
They can take the online classes as per their convenience and you also don’t have to travel to attend college.
You can also connect with your online tutor instantly if you need some help with the assignment writing.
Online learning vs traditional learning- Pros and Cons
No one can deny that every coin has two sides. Same is with the online learning and the traditional learning.
Now we will try to understand the merits and demerits of online learning and the traditional learning.
The infographic given below shows you the pros and cons of online learning method.
Online education pros
Given below are some of the merits or advantages of online education.
Online courses are not costly
The first feature of online learning is that you will find it affordable.
A nine week intensive program at the coder camps costs you around $10000.
It is the amount that is not even the half of the cost of college, which may be around $80000 for four years.
A self-paced online course, free tutorials or massive open online courses (MOOCs) even more easily affordable.
Furthermore, More than 90% Coder Camps graduates got a job within 90 days. You can expect the same as well.
It is a convenient and flexible method to learn
Online education is for the people of all ages.
You don’t have to worry if you are stuck in work or some other commitments.
You can learn online at the time you wish. An online course requires around 10-20 hours a week according to its intensity.
It enables you to give ample time to your job and other commitments.
Another thing you will find amazing about online learning is that you can take the classes from your home.
Many online tutors may also give you online classes at the time you wish.
You can also manage your time effectively.
Online classes focus on improving your skills
Online courses get completed in a short term.
This way the online tutors focus on teaching you the skills that may make you marketable.
They make sure to focus on the subjects of your course and give you all the information regarding it.
You also get to do practicals in the online learning to polish and development job related skills.
It may not be possible in on campus learning. There you have to learn other subjects along with the main ones.
It may lead to you grasping the main subjects properly.
You can learn digital skills best through online courses
Lots of adults seek to learn digital skills such as SEO, SEM, and Content Marketing.
You may not be able to give ample time to take traditional classes to learn these skills.
You may find the finest tutors online to learn these skills.
They can teach you all of it from the comfort of your home or in the hectic hours of work.
You learn the updated things
In the traditional class, it is obvious that some new updates on a course will take some time to reach.
The case is not same when it comes to online education.
For example, hundreds of tutorials on the Internet that can help you learn a new app or programming language.
It makes the online method of learning updated.
Cons of Online learning
Given below are some of the demerits or disadvantages of online classes.
You can’t be sure of the online courses being accredited
One of the premier disadvantages of online education is that the concerned authorities do not accredit some of the online courses.
If you don’t get a degree from an accredited university, then it would be a waste of effort.
Your skills will also not improve and you may not get a job in the field of your specialization.
Lack of face to face interaction
It is right that you may connect with your tutor via video conferencing.
However, it may not be the same in many online learning courses and you may be in touch with your tutor via chat only.
Thus, it may get it tough for you to understand some of things that you can learn well in the on the campus learning.
You have to self-dependent while doing the tasks
Online education provides you with many conveniences and flexibility.
However, you have to be ready to do all the study and attempt the assignments yourself.
You get to spend much time with your tutors while learning online.
You may not have friends with you to help with the assignment writing.
That makes it a must for your work hard if you want to study online.
You have to learn self-regulation and self-direction
In the traditional learning, you can find teachers and friends to guide you when it comes to doing some academic tasks, taking a decision career and in being disciplined.
Things are different in online education.
Here, you have to learn how to discipline yourself and take the route of learning as per your understanding.
The infographic given below shows you the pros and cons of offline learning method.
Pros of traditional education
Given below are the merits or advantages of traditional learning education.
You gain much life experience
A college is not only a place to learn about your course, you can also find things on campus that up your life experience.
Sharing the dorm room with friends, eating lunch with friends in the canteen, participating in the communal and sports activities, etc. are the ways you improve your life experience.
You can have network with the people
In the traditional learning, you meet lots of people everyday.
These people can be your friends and teachers.
It is also possible that you may be in touch with some company that hires alumnus from your college.
Some of these people may help you in finding a job that is how networking is helpful.
Your college degree will be more recognized
It is valid that online learning has is one of the finest methods to learn.
However, degrees acquired from the traditional colleges still rank high in the list of the companies that look to hire young talent from various fields.
In simple words, you may get a job easily with a degree acquired through traditional learning.
You get all the equipment and facilities in the traditional learning
Learning is the process in which you learn various things related to your course.
Attending lectures is ideal to learn some of it.
You can learn many other things about a subject through practicals.
You can get the right facilities and equipment to improve your knowledge about a subject in the on-campus learning.
A regular course degree is a must for many professions
You can become a good SEO expert or a content marketer by opting for an online course.
However, it may not be possible for you to become a lawyer by enrolling in an online learning program.
That earns a point to the traditional learning when it comes to its high points.
Cons of traditional learning
Given below are the demerits or disadvantages of traditional learning education.
Traditional college fee is not affordable for everyone
The one thing that may trouble you or your parents about on-campus learning is its high fees.
According to the some of educational sources the average college costs is $20,000.
The intensity of this amount can be judged by seeing a report that says that theaverage debt of an student in the previous year was $30,000.
So, it would be better for you to get a scholarship if you want to avoid that much expense.
Getting a regular degree may not give you guarantee of a job
As per the report from Economic Policy Institute, 16.8% of the graduates from the class of 2014 may be unemployed.
Another report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 44% of the fresh graduates are doing the jobs that did not require a bachelor’s degree.
It may also be termed as another form of underemployment.
Traditional classes may not give you the required job skills
Traditional classes generally help you in gaining general critical thinking skills.
It means that you may not get hands on experience of what you learn.
This way it may get tough for you to do a task in the professional life.
In the online education, you can gain the relevant skills about subjects.
It may prove much helpful for you in the future.
On-campus learning is inflexible and require travel
Another disadvantage of traditional learning is that you have to attend the classes following a time table.
You may also have to travel to farther for on-campus learning.
It is not the same in the online learning.
Here, you can attend classes from the comfort of your home.
In addition, you may schedule it at the time you find most convenient.
Top websites for online education
Now you are aware of how online education is beneficial for you.
You also know the advantages and disadvantages of online learning and traditional learning.
Thus, it is the time for you to know some of the finest websites that offer high-quality education online.
Coursera is one of the most credible online education provider.
It is the site where you can learn dozens of subjects sitting at your home.
This site has done collaborations with many universities from US and around the world.
Hence, you can get a certificate from the leading universities after the completion of the course.
You can find a wide variety of courses in the subjects such as data science to musical theory.
Many of the courses are free or can be done at a reasonable price through this platform.
However, the official certificate that you get from the associated university may cost you a bit higher.
Khan Academy is a popular online education website.
The site that is free to use and you can find hundreds of educational micro-lectures here.
The focus of the Khan academy stays on providing information on the traditional academic subjects.
You can learn much about the subjects such as math, science, humanities, economies, etc. through the video and text-based material.
You must use this free website to gain brief knowledge about a subject before advance study on the same.
Udemy is not free, but it is a famous online education platform.
It is the site that adds an average 800 new courses to its collection every month.
So, you can find a wide variety of courses on this site.
The fees that Udemy charges may range from $10 to $500 according to the complexity level of the course.
The average fees of its most popular courses such as business and technology may go higher than $100.
MIT OpenCourseWare is an online learning platform that is runs under the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
You can find lots of courses to choose from on this site.
The text-based information, video and audio tutorials come with the credibility and has relevance with the subjects.
If you want to learn coding, then CodeAcademy is the right place for you.
It is a free to use website that was previously backed up by white hours.
On this site, you can learn coding at a fast pace using supportive groups and gamifieid points system.
You can learn PHP, Python, Ruby and many other on this site.
You can also find yourself developing programming projects by the time you complete your course.
National Geographic Kids
The national geographic kids is the ideal platform for you to teach your kids in the fun way.
It is the site that offers a causal learning environment to the young students.
Your kid can learn different academic things through solving puzzles and playing games.
The fun-filled videos and photos can also keep your kid engaged in learning.
University of Oxford Podcasts
Learning through podcasts may prove very effective.
University of Oxford offers you podcasts from the journalism to economy and many more subjects.
These podcasts are public lectures series or lectures from the visiting professors.
These podcasts are organized into series.
Hence, you can easily subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic.
The podcasts run for a long time and can give you in-depth knowledge about a topic.
General Assembly is mainly focused on teaching you design, business and technology.
It is a New York based that offers on-campus education to the people in different cities.
With that, General Assembly also offers many online courses.
It is the online learning platform where you can see popular lectures through live-streaming.
This way you can get in touch with the lectures and other students in real.
iTunesU Free Courses
iTunesU is your online learning app if you want to learn on your mobile.
Whether you use iPad, iPhone or iPod, you can download it easily on your device and start learning.
Mac users can also find iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes store.
It is the app that offers you courses on a wide variety of subjects.
You can find free podcasts and video tutorials on different subject on this platform.
You may have to pay to read some of contents.
Remember one thing! As it is an iPhone app, so you will not find it on your android, Google or Windows phone.
Alison is also one site that offers free education online.
You can learn business, technology, medical related things on this site.
Furthermore, you can also enroll in language learning courses on this site as well.
The plus point of learning from this site is that it offers certificates on your learning.
It will make your learning credible and you can find a job on the same field easily.
Here, we end with the comparison of online education and traditional education. Looking forward to hear your opinion!