Face-Face VS Online Courses

Monique Shifflette, Cactus Writer

College and University students are provided different platforms to obtain their education. These different class environments provide varied learning experiences, and some prefer one over the other. Here are the reasons why.
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of each. Face to face learning can provide a diversity of learning styles. In a typical classroom, students may learn from lectures, PowerPoint presentations, role playing, group projects, class discussions, and more. It also provides opportunities to speak with professors in person, either in their office, or after class. Students have the option to get missing work from other students in the class, share notes, and work on homework together in study groups. However, in-person classes could be inconvenient for students with busy schedules; they may not be able to take a class due to the time of a class conflicting with work, volunteering, or daycare availability. Many face to face classes also have an attendance policy, which may be difficult for someone who is frequently ill, or without a car.

Online classes may be more convenient for someone with little free time, as they can access their course at any time of day, and anywhere they have internet access. Online classes provide an opportunity for people with mental or physical disabilities to get their education, or students from different states can enroll into a college without having to go to the campus. Enrolling in an online program at a university can even be cheaper than enrolling as an on-campus student. Some universities provide entire degree programs online, and the tuition is significantly cheaper. However, online classes may not be for everyone. Professors’ who teach online courses can make or break a class for a student. Some professors try to provide as many learning materials as possible, like presentations, notes, examples, videos, video conferences, and class discussions, and this could make an online class not feel so much like independent study, but some professors will just tell the students what textbook they need to purchase, give the students due dates for assignments and tests, and let the students learn on their own. This method may work for students with a lot of drive and discipline, but this learning style is not for everyone, and the types of learning styles are more limited in an online setting. When it comes to communicating with the instructor, if the professor does not respond to emails very often (or at all), then it is almost impossible to try to contact any of the other students in the class unless you are taking the class with a friend.

A national study confirmed by USA Today says that even with growing participation in online courses, students still prefer face to face learning. However, the article also stated that with increasing student loan interest rates, and growing possibilities in technology, that online platforms are becoming more popular.

Considering the pros and cons, and the study done, it seems that face to face is still the preferred method for learning, but maybe not for too much longer.

[Editors note: CAC is currently engaging in training for all online instructors; focusing on how best to achieve substantive communicative interaction in online courses to benefit student learning.]