Pros and Cons of an Online Education: Is it Right for You?
Types of Online Education
Online education does not fit a single mold; there are many different models of distance learning utilized by community colleges today. Some of the various type of online education, listed at Campus Explore, include:
Synchronous learning involves set times for class work, whether through physical classrooms, online chat rooms or video conferencing. Students have less flexibility with this type of learning environment, but they do have more opportunity for interaction with professors and other students. This type of learning may also be referred to as “fixed-time” courses, where students have to sign onto their computers at a set time each day to get the necessary material and information.
Another popular style of online learning is a hybrid between asynchronous and synchronous classes. This model might vary substantially between classes, based on the preferences of the students and professor running the course. In some cases, students might be required to sign in for video conferencing and/or chat rooms once or twice a week, but homework assignments are still based on a flexible schedule. Others might allow students to explore material on their own time, but set dates for assignments and tests that must be adhered to without fail.
Academic Performance and Online Learning
Some students shy away from online learning because they are concerned their academic performance might suffer in this type of environment. While not every student is cut out for online learning, those that work well in an autonomous environment tend to thrive in online learning programs, based on recent studies. GetEducated.com reported on a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education between 1996 and 2008, which showed that distance education is more effective than traditional learning.
- There are no travel costs or time spent commuting to and from classes.
- Students enjoy great flexibility and can schedule classes and assignments around work and family responsibilities.
- Students are no longer limited by geographical location when selecting a school and degree program.
- Students who are disabled or have other reasons why they cannot attend classes regularly can get the same benefit at home.
- Material is delivered via the Internet, ensuring information is updated regularly.
- Students can work at their own pace, rather than trying to keep up with a group.
- Students may not get questions answered by professors as promptly as they would in a classroom.
- Students must have plenty of self-discipline to keep up with assignments without a weekly schedule.
- Online education limits the amount of interaction students get with peers and faculty.
- Students may not have as many audio and visual resources to draw from when learning new material.
- Students must be very comfortable with technology to ensure the online system works properly for them.
Distance learning works – for the right student. By taking an honest assessment of your own learning style, you can determine whether online education will present the best learning environment for you.