Online college classes are classes whose lectures are performed via the Internet. Teaching material is exchanged online or through the course management system, while students communicate with their professors and classmates through electronic tools such as e-mail, discussion forums, chat rooms and telephone.
Typical online students have established careers (on average four years more work experience than full-time students) and generally have families – therefore the return to full-time schooling is not a practical solution for them.
Advantages Of Online Education
1. Online Study Provides More Flexibility
Advantages of online college classes are multiple. There is primarily the flexibility: students do not have to be present in the classroom during an online course. Online courses can be taken from anywhere in the world.
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In most online classes, hours in which students must be present in the virtual classroom are not fixed, or are fixed to a very small extent. Students can adapt their study schedule according to their private and business schedules.
Furthermore, online courses provide an excellent opportunity to employed people — such as managers wishing to gain further education without being absent from work and losing their pay.
2. E-Learning provides access to a wide range of like-minded professionals
Another benefit of online learning is wider reach. Online colleges enable the studies to be available to a much larger population of students.
Students have the opportunity to meet a very diverse group of people and expand their view of the world.
Learning is also becoming global. It allows external experts or international students to get involved in the classroom conversations. Such multicultural experiences expand students’ horizons, and prepare them for an increasingly global society.
3. Online courses provide different styles of communication and personalized learning
There are multiple ways of interaction: online courses allow different modes of communication between students and teachers, allowing for a different style of learning and discussion. Students who are usually withdrawn in class may feel more comfortable participating in discussions through an online teaching system.
Furthermore, there is the personalized learning: in online classes students can follow lessons at their own pace. If they need more time to master a particular concept, online learning allows them the flexibility they seek.
Disadvantages Of Online Education
1. Online learning requires discipline and excellent time management skills
There are some minor drawbacks of online studies.
First of all, online courses require discipline and time management. With little time constraints, except those during exam periods, online students adhere to their own schedule at their own risk.
People who have trouble with time management can find online study to be problematic.
2. Online classes lack direct interaction
Online classrooms have less direct, spontaneous interaction than traditional ones. It is more difficult for students to recognize the tone of the conversation if they cannot read facial expressions and body language.
Some students may feel lonely in an online learning environment because they do not have daily contact with their classmates.
Ideally, the classroom should be a place of communication – something more difficult to accomplish online. However, with the advancement of computer technology direct online interaction is becoming more and more feasible.
3. Online courses require basic technological knowledge
In order to participate in an online learning environment, it is necessary for students to have some basic technological knowledge.
Obviously, computer and internet access is essential, but besides that students should be able to successfully use all the necessary technological tools required by the course.
Types Of Online Programs
There may be reasons why some professional fields are more appropriate for online education. For example, in business there are “softer” disciplines (such as management and marketing) which rely on constant evolving of mutually created knowledge and interaction between students and instructors.
On the other hand there are “harder” disciplines (economy, accounting, finance) oriented towards gradual improvement of quantitative methods’ applications, where knowledge is transferred from teachers to students.
Finally, there are “medium” disciplines, such as information systems.
Experiences show that courses from all three types of disciplines can be successfully run online, but with different learning strategies.
Basically all courses can be held via the internet, except those who heavily rely on practice. According to the 2008 Sloan report (which explores the presence of eight scientific disciplines), online courses are almost equally present as traditional courses. The only exception is engineering, where only 16% of colleges that offer on-campus engineering studies offer their 100% online equivalents.
Online Courses Price vs Quality
It is generally considered that learning and training via the web has higher fixed expenses, however these higher fixed costs are reimbursed with lower variable costs during studies.
In many cases, the cost of online course tuition is almost equal as the cost for traditional course tuition. However, those who study online are not forced to stop working and lose their wages – something that should be kept in mind.
Furthermore, online students often learn the same material by same professors who teach on campus students. Students acquire the most advanced professional skills, and have the opportunity to establish contacts with thousands of graduates throughout the world.
Online Study Plagiarism And Falsification Issues
Issues such as falsification of identity, plagiarism, etc., exist in online courses as much as they do in traditional courses. However, there are effective strategies to fight them.
Students usually must pass a series of security questions in order to successfully access the system.
Besides technological methods and tools, teachers have the ability to use preventive strategies against copying and plagiarism, such as clearly setting academic requirements, regularly updating teaching material, constructing exams and assignments in a way that hinders students cheating, and applying code of ethics.
In conclusion, online college classes provide an excellent learning alternative to working professionals who do not have the time or the opportunity to venture into full-time study.
Hopefully this post has explained all the benefits of studying online, as well as revealed some of the drawbacks you should be aware of.
If you have experience with studying online, or want to share your thoughts please join the discussion. I will be happy to answer your questions and would love to hear your opinions on the subject 🙂