Online vs. Traditional Learning: A Comparison

December 4th, 2014 by

Online Learning In many ways, earning an online degree is identical to earning a traditional campus degree. Whether you are completing your associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree, both online and traditional learning programs help improve your knowledge, your practical skills and your ability to find work after graduation. However, there are also some big differences between the two. Find out more by comparing traditional and online learning programs.

Asynchronous Learning vs. Scheduled Sessions

Perhaps the most significant difference between online and traditional learning is that online programs are generally asynchronous, or not on a specific time schedule. If you attend a traditional campus program and miss the morning lecture, you have completely skipped that lesson.

In an online degree, you can watch recorded lectures on your own time and whenever it best fits into your schedule. Homework and exams can be completed at midnight or in the middle of the afternoon, and it makes no difference as long as it gets done.

Amount of Self-Discipline Required

Since you won’t have classmates to physically meet with after class or a professor reminding you in person about the next due date on your schedule, taking an online class requires more self-discipline than a traditional class might. Although this can seem more challenging initially, online learning can be a great way for you to master self-discipline before beginning a new career.

Digital Literacy Levels

While traditional learning may involve some computer use depending on the level of the course and the subject matter, digital literary is not typically a prerequisite to enrollment. However, online learning programs require students to at least be familiar with the basics of things like watching lectures online, typing essays using word processing software and emailing with lecturers or classmates as necessary throughout the program.

Speed of Completion

Another big difference between online and traditional learning has to do with the speed of the course or degree completion. Traditional learning follows a specific schedule, and there is no way to complete your class or your course in less time than the professor requires.

When studying online, however, you have greater flexibility when it comes to speed. If you have lots of free time, you could complete your online degree months ahead of schedule. Conversely, those who are overwhelmed with unexpected work or a family crisis can slow the pace of the program and get an extension in order to graduate a few months later than planned.

Convenience and Affordability

Finally, there are definitely some notable comparisons when it comes to both convenience and affordability of online and traditional learning. Online programs may have similar tuition rates, but they don’t require students to commute to a campus, take on parking costs or pay for public transportation. In the same vein, online learning is often a lot more convenient since it can be completed from any location.

As long as online students have access to a computer and an Internet connection, they can complete coursework. Of course, specific prices and convenience levels will depend on where you live and the tuition rates of comparable colleges in your area and online.

While there are many similarities, there are also some stark differences between online and traditional learning. Only you can decide which option will be best for your education.

Explore the many degrees available completely online at accredited colleges and universities.


About the Author:

Sandy Davis

Sandy Davis is a long-time educator who holds a Master’s Degree in Education, having taught English, writing, and communication on the secondary and college levels. With ten years of experience in blogging, social media and content management, she is a freelance writer and content marketing specialist for a diverse range of clients.

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