How Online Learning Is Different From Classroom Author

Online courses and online courses might look strikingly similar. Yet while online courses that lead to certificates of competency are similar, how the learners interact in these courses is very different.

By Charles McArthur

The above infographic presents an important viewpoint on how the traditional classroom taught over the past two decades has evolved into online learning. Many educators have long seen digital communication tools such as online education as significant replacements for the traditional classroom. Learning was, in many ways, no longer just a privilege for those privileged enough to attend school on a weekday.

In recent years, access to online education has become a popular part of the industry in the U.S. Particularly among students who are undereducated or learning at low levels, an easy way to quickly get ahead is online education. In a sense, digital course material has become a commodity. The more people who take digital courses, the more books offered to choose from, the cheaper each book becomes and online education grows.

In terms of improving those who are underserved, are online courses a solution?

In schools, online classes often create a less rigid, more customizable learning environment where each student is responsible for both the content itself and the method of delivery. Today’s digital education platform addresses technical issues such as connectivity, presentation, timeline, and access. With a digital platform, each student can tailor their delivery method to exactly how they need to learn.

However, it’s important to think about why they may feel like it is better to take a digital course than to actually learn in the classroom. Perhaps the instructor is far too busy to attend to your course. Maybe they don’t have the time to research certain areas and only send you one or two slides per topic. Perhaps you have other priorities other than school work such as study abroad or a full-time job.

The algorithm may help you in one aspect of life (processing math) but not another (getting good grades and interacting with other students).

Taking a college course may feel like an extension of home. Even though the lessons are supposed to be real, you have a time limited period to finish them without penalty. Being online makes this much more convenient and still allows you to get the same information and instruction, a debate about which should come first: quality or efficiency.

Another issue that the academic world has encountered over the years is the shifting attitudes towards academics. One study found that people with a higher income read less, listen less, are less motivated, and lose more sleep after a day of academic work. To counteract this, online education may be designed around an “Internet suit” which will provide the student with a distraction and maximise their time online. Not only this, but most of those who take online courses are highly motivated to succeed in their studies, as if most of us could just not be bothered with studying.

Let’s not forget the major issue of inequality. When people can simply buy what they need to learn more effectively, learning becomes an easy-to-access option. Lower socio-economic groups are most often left behind. For those on low incomes or living with low levels of literacy, having to worry about paying for and taking online courses could actually put this at risk. Still, it’s not all bad news.

Not everyone wants to complete school. For those who do want to learn, online course materials may be the missing element that will help you reach your ultimate goal. Because of low or no access to educational material, some students are better suited to take online courses which expose them to information on their own time, even if it is a little outside the normal school curriculum.

Online courses teach more effectively than what you can get from school. The algorithms, if used correctly, will help you better implement techniques and best practices for learning. They may also incorporate apps into the learning experience to help you get the most out of them. Perhaps you’ll read a lot more effectively, or spend more time on a topic if you can choose from a vast number of resources (both physical and digital) rather than focusing on a subject for a handful of hours in one day. In fact, perhaps online courses are more useful for certain types of learning (the preparation of resumes, the completion of degrees, and even job hunting). After all, the advantage is that you can do it whenever you choose.

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