HigherEdMorning.comOnline vs. classroom: Who's learning more?

Online vs. classroom: Who’s learning more?

September 1, 2009 by Geneva Reid
Posted in: Academics, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views

The traditional classroom may not be the most effective learning environment, according to a recent report.

The report, conducted by SRI International, looked at research for the past 12 years where online and classroom performance was compared for the same courses. Most of the studies were conducted in colleges and continuing education programs.

The results: The average online student ranked in the 59th percentile, and the average classroom student ranked in the 50th percentile.

Why would students learning in an online environment score higher? Experts say it may be because online education is tailored to each student’s needs. That kind of focus isn’t generally possible in a traditional classroom setting.

Will we see more and more courses offered online as opposed to face-to-face instruction? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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  • Dr. Frank Varney

    “SRI’s mission is discovery and the application of science and technology.” Does that sound as though they might have a reason to want such a survey to come down on the side of technology being the answer to all our questions? Online courses are a terrific way to get a certificate that says you took a course, and for some applications it is undoubtedly very useful. But would you want to be represented by a lawyer who got her degree online? Have your children taught by a teacher who took virtual courses? There are myriad ways in which in-person teaching – when done well – is far superior to online courses. Traditional classes provide in-person interaction, socialization, and contact between educator and student. And of course there is always the issue of online courses having a very difficult time with cheaters. Online works for some things; but the traditional classroom (with a large dose of technology mixed in where appropriate) will always be better for mosts classes.

  • J. R. Porter

    These data may simply reflect the maturity of the students who are enrolled in online courses. In order to estimate the teaching effectiveness, one would need both pre and post test assessments of the individuals (i.e. online students vs classroom students) that are being compared.

  • http://middlesexcc.edu John Gutowski

    One other variable has not been considered: Online teachers, in my experience, have to think about and prepare the entire semester’s work ahead of time, especially since the online students like to see a complete online experience and to know the requirements, expectations and details ahead of time (sometimes even before they commit to taking an online course).

    “Brick-and-mortar” teachers may actually prepare at this same level, but they are not as driven to do this early preparation by the technology and the student expectations as are the online teachers.

    One more point about the cheating issue: That is a real issue, but it is ameliorated by hybrid online situations (part classroom and part online). Sometimes an entire online course can be thought of as more valid by using proctored finals. It is more difficult to produce student and teacher interactions online, but it does have a semblance of virtual classroom activity in a well-designed online experience. In fact, I recall reading that some of the shyer students or those intimidated by others when in a physical class have time to research, ponder and then post a cogent position online. It is not as spontaneous as in the regular classroom, but is that always a worse experience? Not for the shy or intimidated.
    An online teacher taught successfully for many years in spite of her physical handicapp, shich would have prevented her from ever teaching in a traditional class setting. I would imagine some handicapped students would also thrive in an online environment.
    Of course, all of what I said is simply my opinion, however it is based on years of experience as both a teacher and a student (in online classes, but mainly in traditional classes).

  • Justin

    Interesting. I’d love to see what the measurables were. Is it passing a test, retaining information, developing analytical skills? Sometimes the test for these measurables doesn’t always support these sweeping claims.

  • Steve

    As others have mentioned above, it would be wonderful to learn more of the methodology and measures. Ms. Ford, please provide us with a link to the complete report.

    Editor’s Response: Here is a link to the report: http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf

  • Amazed

    I’d be interested in the SEM around those mean scores. The effect size associated with such a gain is between 0.22 and 0.23. Such an effect size is considered by most analysts to be little different from zero. Given that, I’d be willing to bet that the confidence intervals include the effect size of zero. That being the case, it’s, statistically, a draw.

  • Sean

    In addition to Dr. Varney’s astute observations, and echoing Justin’s skepticism, it is important to consider the standards by which such comparisons are drawn. There is a growing and, in many cases idealistically driven, preference for quantified measurable outcomes in education. Note the “findings” of this study are represented as a tidy percentile. Pressures related to “efficiency” and “accountability” in tight budgetary times no doubt encourages such approaches. And I can certainly see how such “findings” would be valued by administrators and accountants who want to rationalize their decisions to cut or redirect funding for various programs. But, emphasis on such quantified standards does threaten to unduly depreciate those outcomes that are, although no less vital, not well suited to quantifiable analysis. Online technology can be an important part of any discipline, but exclusive online instruction is undoubtedly better suited to some, putting other disciplines (e.g. these in the liberal arts) at a serious disadvantage in these troubling budgetary times. Certainly, the particular disciplines represented in the study are relevant. But I see no reference to which courses were included in the study and so, the article is not only meaningless, but potentially quite damaging.

    Editor’s Response: To view the full study, go to: http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf

  • Tricia

    I have been a student for quite some time, and I found it quite easier to take a course online, than the traditional in class. I started taking online course when I could not fit a full time class schedule with a full time work schedule. I was not fortunate enough to go to college without working. Need full time work in order to support my family, so online courses for me were out of need rather than an option. With self-disciplne, determination, and the willingness to learn with out an instructor, if the best way to complete the course. I currently have three more semesters to go until I receive my MASTERS degree, so far so good. I would recommend online courses to anyone who is serious about completing a course.

  • jrb@msu

    Frank Varney said: “Online works for some things; but the traditional classroom (with a large dose of technology mixed in where appropriate) will always be better for mosts classes.”
    Good news – if you read the study (not the newsweeky articles that over simplify the study results), you will see that the outcomes for blended learning (arguably the type of environment Varney is alluding to) have the best outcomes of all three modes (F2F, Purely Online, Blended) studied.
    It is important to note that the authors conclude that it is not about the technology per se, it is about such things as increasing engagement, participation, and time on task – none of which is explicitly excluded from classroom teaching, but as John Gutowski alludes to, is often simply not done.
    At least read the study’s executive summary before coming to conclusions – the 150 word sound bites here and in the Chronicle and NYTimes don’t do it justice and are in fact a tad misleading.

  • Jessica

    When online classes have enrollments of 100, compared to 15 or 20 students in a face to face section, it becomes necessity to require shorter papers and participation-based discussion postings, instead of formal 15 page manuscripts and in-class participation and attendance. Also, online testing, when not required in a lab setting, means all tests become open-book. I know from other faculty that students also confess to taking online exams in a group, discussing each question and answering them after reaching consensus.

    While there are techniques to address this, like randomized questions and answers or open-ended responses to essay questions, the reality is that a professor’s other obligations — to other classes, university service or publication requirements — make holding the same academic standard in the larger class sizes completely impractical. So, while the grades may be better, based on my experience teaching both formats, the education online is aignificantly worse.

  • jrb@msu

    @Jessica, RE: “…it becomes necessity to require shorter papers and participation-based discussion postings, instead of formal 15 page manuscripts and in-class participation and attendance.” How is this any different from large F2F classes?
    I think what the study is largely saying is that, at least for the classes taught in the study’s meta analysis, the professors viewed their “other obligations” to still be about good teaching, and performed accordingly. Again, nothing you have said about online can’t be said about traditional classroom instruction.
    In fairness, I can’t recall if the study ferreted out what % of classes examined were taught by adjuncts whose primary obligation IS to teaching.

  • Pam

    Having taught both online and in the classroom, it has been my experience that online students are generally more mature and self-motivated. I would expect online students to have higher scores.

    To address some of the issues brought up by others:

    Cheating: The trend in higher ed, especially for online courses, is to move away from exams and use papers and projects, instead, as a means of assessment. It is just as easy for a classroom student to plagiarize a paper or project as it is for an online student.

    Class size: Online class enrollments of 100?? Maybe somewhere…but in the college where I work, the college where I formerly worked, and the online college where I was a student, the online classes were about 15-25 students. It seems much more common for universities to have large lecture hall classes, up to 150 students, than for online classes to be that large.

  • Steven Doherty

    I feel tha the concessions made by instructiors in the online format betray some of the most significant requirements of learning in hgher education. The inability to ferret out cheating in the on-line format is quite troubling to me. I have heard accounts of entire degrees being earned by spouses and friends for individuals who were nominally taking on-line courses. As Frank Varney asserts, the lack of academic socialization and personal interaction with instructors in the on-line format serves the on-line students very poorly.
    I worry deeply that the attraction of on-line instruction foro those with limited financial resources and a lack of familairity wih quality comnsiderations in their academic choices will create a two-tier situation in higher education, with poorer and first generation students receiving mostly on-line instruction. This could inhibit their chances to function effectively in the post-graduate and profesional environment and limit their chances at success in the prestige professions.

  • http://www.cae.net/blog/ Ron

    Although I agree that the data in this article could be skewed a bit, and as Amazed pointed out, it’s pretty much too close to tell, I do have a few observations that might be valuable that I haven’t seen mentioned above:

    1. If the stats of online vs in-person are even close, even if they favor in-person learning, it still shows the potential of online education. If, at this early stage of evolution of the technology, we are potentially CLOSE to as effective as in-person training, we should REALLY begin trying to understand this technology.

    2. From some of the comments, both the ones that favor some of the advantages of online tools and those that oppose it, this seems to be another display of “horseless carriage” thinking, trying to adapt the technology to the “old way” of doing, rather than the other way around.

    3. Sometimes I wonder if the resistance to online teaching is based less in facts and more in a fear of the unknown or lack of ability to adapt (or even nostalgia). I had a friend who was an amateur film maker. He didn’t like using digital format, and insisted celluloid “film” was better. No reason other than a young man’s version of “that’s the way it was when I was your age, and we liked it.” Similar to people insisting “hand made” is better. More work, yes. Better, not usually.

  • Dr. Frank Varney

    This semester I am teaching 4 in-person classes, 1 using inter-active video, and one entirely online; so I do have varied experience in this area. I have a family member who has been involved in distance learning since the early days of it, and her feeling about it is the same as mine; that it is useful in certain circumstances (such as the situations cited by others of instructors or students who are unable, for a variety of reasons, to get to classes) but it is simply no substitute for face-face in most intances. I’ve already stated some of my reasoning, and won’t rehash it here. But the danger of online is that some people see it as the answer to all questions, and attribute reluctance in others to “unwillingess to adapt” or “fear of the unknown.” There are online courses, offered by accredited universities, in things like public speaking. I’ve seen the course, and the students have no actual experience speaking in front of a group. They read articles on the theory of public speaking, then prepare a video – in a closed environment – which is then played by the professor. The student is seen from the neck up, alleviating all those troublesome public speaking issues like “what do I do with my hands?” The lack of an audience removes most of the issue of stage fright, and also removes any visual or auditory stimulus from the audience. How is this effective? Another online course, believe it or not, is a course on swimming! I reiterate; online works for some things, but the danger is that administrators, eager to pad enrollment, will happily seize on articles like this one to validate online courses in cases where they really have no business being. Some instructors really enjoy teaching online. I could be cruel, as some of those who feel that the reluctance of some of us is based on “fear of the unknown,” and suggest that perhaps those people who prefer online simply lack the abililty to relate to students. But I don’t really believe that’s the case; so let’s not attribute personality flaws to people who simply disagree with us, fair enough? I do know that most of the instructors and most of the students I know are not enamored of online classes; most administrators, some of whom perhaps see in online the reduction or even the eventual elimination of the need for classrooms, dorms, and even instructors, seem to like the idea. There is also the very real issue of who owns the rights to an online course; most universities hold that the institution, not the instructor, has the right to the class. So the job you threaten may be your own.

  • jrb@msu

    I think a major outcome of this study is being skimmed over by some of the recent comments – and that is that there is now little question that >when done well<, online education can be (as good as or) superior to the classroom.
    (Similarly, a sucky classroom course in public speaking is still, at its core, sucky – and it is likely that an online venue would not improve that.)
    The bottom line is the "done well" part, and that includes acknowledging when some part of the curricula belongs in a hybrid or F2F mode. I think we can all dredge up myriad examples of dicey decision making by fiscally impaired administrators – but let's not throw out the proverbial baby.
    Whether faculty want to admit it or not, we do see a fair amount of "unwillingness to adapt" on campuses. We can say vive le difference, but this attitude often results in a retreat to a _fully_ traditional approach to instruction, which ignores some of the affordances of the technologies and as such does not serve the students well.

  • http://www.cae.net/blog/ Ron

    I agree that software tools can’t solve all learning scenarios. I was merely suggesting that sometimes traditional-role teachers discredit online tools too quickly. These tools don’t solve all problems. Sometimes maybe they should be used as merely a supplement, as either prep or reinforcement. Consider football teams’ “film” study or learning from books about a hobby before attempting.

    I just hope innovation isn’t hampered by some people that expect it to be a magic solution without putting planning and effort into “learning” about these new tools.

    I also believe some teachers aren’t truly content with knowing that people can learn without their “amazing” lectures. If a picture’s worth a 1000 words, what’s a video embedded into interactive media worth? (and supplemented by a good instructor’s feedback.)

  • Dr. Frank Varney

    The last two comments make some excellent points. Yes, I don’t doubt that there is an “unwillingness to adapt” on the part of some people; can we also agree that there is an excessive eagerness to embrace new technology on the part of some others? And yes, a sucky classroom course is still a crummy course; but it’s far easier to quickly adapt to visual clues from an audience you’re actually in the room with. Think about this; if you’re dealing with someone and need honest input from them, which would your prefer; reading a letter or e-mail from them, or talking to them on the phone? Talking on the phone, or seeing them as you speak to them? A lousy teacher, whether in person or online, is still a lousy teacher. There’s no way online can fix that. But a good teacher will find ways to adapt. It’s simply easier to adapt when you’re actually in direct communication with someone. As I’ve said repeatedly, online works fine for some things; it’s the haste to pronounce it wonderful that alarms me, and the concept expounded in the article that it actually is superior to traditional methods.

    As to Ron’s comments; yes, some people discredit any new approach, and that’s regrettable. And other people rush to jump onboard any new idea, and that can be a problem too. The problem is, as you point out, that those who hasten toward the future sometimes needlessly alienate others by discreditng their perspectives as stodgy or outmoded. That serves neither side. To Ron’s last paragraph; video can easily be incorporated into lectures. I did so this morning. At various points in the video we paused and discussed what we were watching – and I prepared students to be on the lookout for things that were coming up. Sometimes their comments took us in new and unexpected directions. I personally think it’s harder to have that immediacy online, particularly in non-interactive courses. My point, once again, is not that online can’t or doesn’t work; it’s that no one has really given an example of how it’s superior. Sure, you can imbed a video into an online course; you can also do so in class. You can engage in a message-board debate; you can also have debates in class. And in person, in my humble opinion, is more immediate and easier to respond to. So you don’t have to convince me online can work; I just do not accept the premise that it’s better simply because it’s newer, and that those who are resistant to it are simply unwilling to give up their captive audience, or are resistant to change.

  • jrb@msu

    @Frank V, RE: “I just do not accept the premise that it’s better simply because it’s newer…”.
    The study in question (remember the study?) is pretty clear on this point – it doesn’t say unconditionally “online is better”.
    It says online is often better because it (again – when well done), encompasses more things that ultimately make up good teaching and learning – more time on task, more engagement, more interaction, ability to advantageously utilize different media, etc..
    See my original Sept 2nd comment.

  • Frank Varney

    jrb@msu; Please do bear in mind that I am replying, at this point, to previous comments. The discussion has moved beyond the original article. And also bear in mind that my original comments were not bearing on the report, but the article which was published online. That was, after all, what most readers saw; a headline asking if online courses would make traditional courses obsolete.
    As to your recent comment, I agree; anything, when done well, works better than something not done well. As to the remarks as to why online (when done well) is better; more time on task? Relative to what? Time actually spent in the classroom? Students online take as much time to complete assignments as they need. So do students in the classroom setting, if we are speaking of assignments done outside the classroom. Since online students do pretty much ALL of their work outside the classroom, this is not a valid comparison. More engagement? In what sense? They are unable to effectively engage their professors or classmates in a real-time discussion. Or does “more engagement” mean a higher degree of committment? How do we quantify that? Do we assume that because grades in online courses tend to be higher, that signifies better student commitment? Might it also not signify the problem of difficulty in grading online courses, or because often are taught by adjuncts, who tend to grade more easily because they are more vulnerable to student dissatisfaction ? More interaction? See my above comment. I do not see how engaging in an exchange of messages online is superior to an exchange of ideas in an open forum where everyone is present. Ability to advantageously utililze different media? In a classroom you can show a video, use a powerpoint presentation, or do anything else you can do online. In fact, a traditional classroom course can have an online component; mine do. But a totally online course does not have the option of having a face-to-face setting.

  • http://www.cae.net/blog/ Ron

    I agree with you Frank! The people that jump on any technology bandwagon that rolls in are sometimes foolish. But the situation you described about the in-person video presentation, CAN be easily done online. You can set up all sorts of stuff and then work via webcam with a lot of students and let them use the functionality of the whiteboard or the slides or whatever. It’s immediate, and it’s very well organized (something that a presenter like yourself can appreciate – it forces a teacher to be very well-prepared and organized.)

    And I ALSO agree with you that this still doesn’t replace the convenience of face-to-face communication. But driving to campus and trying to find a parking space in the rain after you take your kids to day-care doesn’t replace the convenience of sitting at home, either.

    I’ve also read from a lot of teachers that are using this, that there is actually a benefit to avoiding the in-person interaction. It allows students that are too shy to ask questions to be able to think their statements through, and then have the courage to ask them.

    My statement is that these tools are evolving, and if people try to work with them and innovate in their methodology, these tools could become even more useful. As to how much of traditional schools will eLearning REPLACE is anyone’s guess. It’s just nice to see an article that suggests online learning is becoming useful to some degree.

  • Frank Varney

    Thank you, Ron. It’s nice to read a balanced response. We have an annoying parking situation here, which I overcome by living within walking distance. Online courses are of course helpful for that problem. Also in the case of students and instructors with disabilities, or with distance issues that preclude attendance. I’ve never tried to make the case that online does not work, and in some cases work well. In fact, I have a colleague who does an excellent job with it. Personally I much prefer the personal interaction with my students, but if others prefer the convenience of online that does not trouble me. What does put a burr under my saddle is the fact that some of the online enthusiasts insist that the reluctance of others to embrace the technology is simply attributable to us being “unable to adapt,” or being victims of nostalgia. I believe, as I said early on, that online works well for some things. I just don’t view it as the answer to every question, as some seem to do. Thank you for your reasoned input on this.

  • Steven Doherty

    While Ron has some valid observtaions, I am troubled by any suggestion that removing personal interaction from the learning environement will improve instruction. It greatly disadvantages an individual to lack meaning personal interaction with an instructor and classmates. In most professions, communication skills and personal interaction are crucial to functioning. I would certainly hesitate to employ an attorney who lacks the courage to state opinions.
    So many of the arguments that support on-line learning do so by attempting to argue that it is comparable to classroom instruction. In an increasingly competitive educational and professional landscape, the need to never sacrifice quality is of extreme importance to me. Higher edUcation instruction is the one of the greatest service any individual can provide to the community and we must resist the impulse to compromise the qulaity of it for purpose of utility. We owe our students the most rigerous and intensive experience we can provide and letting adminisatrive concerns and infatuation with technology mandate this process. I say with great confidence that the interpersonal communications I experienced during my undergraduate career inthe classroom format benefited me tremendously both personally and professionally, and I am not convinced the same intellectual development would have occured in an on-line format.

  • jrb@msu

    My point is that I don’t buy that this discussion is (or should be) about the “newsweeky” and somewhat sensational summary of the study. In a vacuum, you can make any assertions (good OR bad) about online learning you want – the study puts many of these false assertions and red herrings to rest.
    Frank V., the answer to all of your questions (about time on task, engagement, etc.) is in the SRI study.
    All – there is a real danger that adhering to one’s preferences based on one’s own limited experiences ignores the broad challenges of effectively engaging an increasingly diverse set of learners. And this has been so for generations. And it has NOTHING to do with technology, really.
    Read the study.

  • Frank Varney

    jrb: and my point is that the discussion, which began with the article, has moved beyond both the article and the study. People are responding to one another at this point. I’ll take another look at the study, since you feel it has merit, but my recent comments have been in response to what you – and others – have been saying since this conversation began. Some of us prefer online; some of us prefer classroom; some of us see value in both. Steven makes the very valid point that he feels he gained a great deal from his classroom experience that he may well not have gotten online. I feel the same way. Judging by my student evaluations over the years, one of what my students percieve to be a strength is my relationship with them – something I feel much less able to establish online. If you feel otherwise, more power to you. The article and the study are no longer the primary focus of the conversation. We are simply interacting as colleagues who all have an interest in this subject. And since I’m reacting to comments, I would caution you not to make snap judgments regarding anyone’s “own limited experiences.” Some of the people who don’t like online learning may have extensive experience with it. Some may have little or none. Some of the supporters of online may have taught or taken a single course; others may have a great deal of experience with it. Just because someone doesn’t like something does not automatically make them ignorant of its possiblities. And I recognize that just because someone has a lot of experience with it does not necessarily make them blind to its potential problems.

  • http://www.cae.net Ron

    See…. I learned something here. And I wasn’t face-to-face with any of you.

    Now just imagine if we all had VOIP, we could share the use of a whiteboard, had articles prepared well in advance to support our arguments about this study, and could share the use of each other’s Firefox or spreadsheet or whatever. Combine that we each of us being required to submit a brief video or slideshow of what we think eLearning could be in the future, and the guy who mentioned statistics could show us his calculations on his computer, and how the numbers can vary using histograms or whatever.

    Keep in mind, this could all be moderated by one brilliant and well-prepared instructor!

    THAT’S learning. I think online will grow into a very powerful medium, and as the article suggests, we are already making strides even though online courses are still in relative infancy. I’m on jrb@msu’s side; we have a whole new generation of learners and hopefully a generation of teachers who are ready to adapt.

  • Frank Varney

    Yes, and if we were all sitting in the same room we might have all learned it within an hour, instead of taking a day or more to get to this point. Nice talking with you, Ron.

  • Robert

    I work for an online university that is regionally accredited. Like many of you, I have an upbringing in the traditional classroom, brick and mortar education including at the university level. I have since earned advanced degrees in a traditional, cluster/extension format, and residential mixed with online formats. Once I adapted to these settings, I have learned equally in all aforementioned formats and am not surprised of the results of the study that generated these posts. I concur with those who conclude that traditional learning has its merits for especially subject matter that demands “hands on” courses, like would be the case for instance, in medical schools, archaeology courses, physical education courses, study-abroad programs, etc. It reminds me of that TV commercial where the surgeon instructs the patient over the phone to take the knife in his hand and make an incision on his chest, and he quips,”Shouldn’t you be doing this?” It was meant to be funny and goes without saying anything further. However, in many other fields, the subject matter can be taught successfully online. My own preference in the present world in which we live is to see in a degree program, a good mix of face-to-face residency requirements and the rest completed online. We all have to have skills in both worlds of teaching and learning if you want to survive and advance.

  • SJones

    I am currently teaching an online course of 90 students and other graduate students are teaching 2 other courses of similar size, all three of us teachers of record who have previously either been TA’s or taught in a lecture hall (me) where we had class loads of 80-100 students. The only real difference in the class requirements is that the lectures are available online in a videotaped format that student can access at their convenience. Powerpoint visuals are available online as well. All materials and handouts are accessible on the class “Blackboard” site, where they have a Discussion Board, Assisgnment dropbox, email, and a variety of other classroom material. The tests are proctored in a controlled environment in a testing centered–typically blue-book essays, with outside reading and several term papers–which we still have to grade–turned in online and returned graded online instead of as hard copies. The tests are the old fashioned kind. Paper and pencil/pen. Contact is made via email, although podcasts are available, and in my class I have ongoing small-group threaded discussions with bi-monthly changes of discussion in order to create a sense of a “classroom.”
    So far it appears to be working quite well–although the workload is certainly not light!

  • Frank Varney

    Quick question before I head to class (yes, I still teach some of them in person). I write a lot of letters of recommendation for students every year. Does anyone else but me have a problem writing recommendations for people they have never met? Oh, and yesteday I discovered a national academic honors association that does not accept online credit hours toward an award. So apparently it’s not just a few “hard liners” who are not completely comfortable saying online is just as good. I think it works okay for some things, and some people have designed excellent online classes. But I don’t think it’s always the answer, as some insist. I think Robert makes some excellent points, both for and against online. Something else just occurred to me. A number of people have pointed out how well online works for people who are shy and don’t like working in groups. Online allow them to avoid that, but that may not always be a benefit. Sometimes we need to face what we are afraid of. Unless those people are going to work online for the rest of their lives, perhaps a little socialisation might be a good thing.

  • J. Hansen

    I’m doing a thesis for my English class at El Paso Community College on the very topic you are all involved it. Loved hearing all your points of view and I still believe a classroom setting is beneficial for a well rounded college graduate. Hope you all don’t mind me writing about my experience that I had reading your responses (which was very enjoyable).

  • Timothy Norfolk

    I used to do the transfer material for my department (mathematics), which included some of on-line coursework. I have yet to see a grade in one that reflected the same level of learning as a non-virtual classroom.

    It is also worth noting that the big on-line and for-profit universities, such as the University of Phoenix, offer only mathematics and science courses at basically the community college level. Why is that?

  • http://higheredmorning.com Darci Hammett

    Hello all,
    My post may not make it to the Doctors or Specialists, but I am now earning a degree on-line. I also graduated high school (junior and senior) through the early years of “correspondence schools”, and I earned my Real Estate license on-line. When I decided to attend on-line learning, I was a sophomore in high school. I sat one day and calculated the minutes wasted in class, study halls, transferring class to class, and the meaningless chatter which wasted my learning time in each class. Although I have not attended a “brick and mortar” college, I believe with the calculations I managed to eek out as a sophomore, my time is much more valuable and useful not sitting in a classroom waiting for the over priveledged, so called popular crowd to settle down and finally be taught something. The endless “homework” which I feel should be banned if I am learning in a classroom, I managed to accomplish in my classes. If I was in a class room I expected to learn and not have to make up the work a teacher failed to teach me in the class time allotted. This may be elementary and meaningless, however it got me on the road to working for a living, volunteering over 90 hours a month in educating others and a real world experience of how to contribute to society, not how to be elected as the “most likely to succeed”. Now having said that, school has its advantages of interacting with students, and teachers. I find that email and phone conversations as well as live chat sessions also serve me well. I may be a different type of learner and am able to understand assignments with just a lecture and a few well written emails and postings from my professor. My time is much better used in the real world, interacting with my family, adding to my bank account by being able to have a full-time job, and helping others with the time I would be wasting driving or commuting to a campus, waiting for the chatter to subside, cramming for the next class in a library or whatever else wastes time in a building. I am however, researching the impact classroom learning or on-line learning has on potential employers. Does it have as much credibility? Am I harming my earning potential by on-line learning? I know alot of people who cheat in class, in a dorm, with someone who “already took that class last semester” and the like. Cheaters are cheaters. If a person wants to cheat he or she will find a way, online or classroom. They will not be able to avoid the “school of hard knocks” by the way they choose to pass a class. It will catch up to them. I have not decided if I will go all the way with my degree on-line but I will surely do alot of further research to find out what is the best way for me. And in a nut shell, don’t knock it til you try it. I find I am much more open and honest and eager to put my two cents in online. In classrooms there is little time to formulate thoughts and how to project them. There is less time to truly discuss for the rude interruptions that occur in the live settings. Less and less people are taught manners and proper etiquette. Frustrating indeed for someone truly trying to listen or comment. I prefer the option to re-write before posting. To have a few days to accumulate thoughts and feelings. However, thinking on one’s feet is also a valuable aspect to classroom learning. But you are always corrected by a teacher right away, sometimes not allowing for you to remove your own foot from your mouth. Thats all.


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