The prevailing opinion among society is that traditional college courses held in classrooms are better than online courses taken over the internet. The problem with this theory is that online education has evolved immensely over time. When online education first hit the scene the courses were a bit archaic and some of the institutions were not legitimate.
This had a lot to do with forming people’s perception that online learning was inferior. But what about now? Online learning has evolved over the years and is now offered at the most prestigious colleges and universities including Harvard, Penn and Stanford. One extensive study completed in 2009 shows that in many ways online learning may be better than brick and mortar classes. Let’s take a look why:
The study suggested that online learning provides students with much more learning time than traditional classes. Students have the opportunity to really synthesize and critically think about concepts and information that strengthens their depth of learning. Students are able to watch videos and re-read material multiple times rather than just once.
Lack of Lecturing
The main problem with many university classrooms is the amount of lecturing going on. Lecturing is not a form of learning. It is a passive act where the listener is receiving information rather than acquiring knowledge. Far too many college professors lecture, which makes the university classroom environment inferior to the online environment. Online learning experiences are student lead. Students are able to engage in the material and really learn.
In a classroom setting it is difficult for professors to provide unique learning experiences for their students. Many times it’s only the most vocal students who ask questions. And in some instances, questions are discouraged or there is no time. Online courses require students to ask questions and be engaged. Professors encourage students to ask individual questions about assignments and course materials. This provides students with a more individualized program tailored to fit their needs. It’s not a on-size-fits-all approach to education.
Students in online courses are typically required to collaborate with one another. Studies show that learning increases when there is student collaboration. It also exposes students to people from different backgrounds and cultures – further enriching the experience.
Opportunities for Reflection
Online learning courses are often split into modules with clear and specific goals. This makes it easier for students to understand the goals of the class and what is expected of them. At the end of modules there are typically assignments that require students to reflect about what they have learned. These reflection mechanisms force students to think deeply about course material resulting in a greater depth of learning and critical analysis useful reference.