Essay Example: Traditional Learning Versus Online Learning

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University of Richmond
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Education has become an important part of human life in the modern world, and most students aspire to join college after high school. Unlike in the past, they now have an option to either choose traditional or online classes to achieve college credits. Both counterparts have advantages and disadvantages, so students have to understand what to expect before selecting what suits them best. This paper focuses on a side-by-side comparison of two forms of learning by analyzing four key areas; time management, course content, the learning style and social interactions.

Time management is a major factor in any learning. In traditional classes, one is obligated to be present on certain days of the week and at a particular time. Therefore, students have enough knowledge on what chapters to read and when to prepare for exams. Online classes, however, are opposite. According to Watson, online students do not have a set time on when to attend classes, and this may encourage laziness. Online learners need high self-discipline for them to create time for studies. Though it may seem easy and flexible for working students, online learning can be challenging.

Learning the course content is a major issue for both methods of learning. In traditional classes, students get lectures from the instructor about the course content. Furthermore, they have an option to ask questions and get prompt answers. On the other hand, online students are given assignments and set readings and expected to learn by themselves. A student can only ask questions via emails. Salmon, states that the long wait for a reply may slow down a student's understanding of the course. Hopkins, however, believes online reading can work well if one takes a subject that they can familiarize in.

Another factor to consider as a student is the learning style. Salmon, argues that traditional classrooms are preferable for auditory learners since it is hard for them to hear the information out of a book. Contrary to this, visual learners handle online learning easily since they only need to read the text and see examples to understand. Although traditional instructors use visuals while teaching, it is not the primary method of teaching, and it is therefore not reliable. Hrastinski, therefore, suggests that students should first assess whether they learn more from listening to a teacher or form watching videos and reading books.

Another area of concern is social interaction. Regardless of technological progress, traditional education is likely the best option for students who prefer face-to-face communication. Allen and Jeff argue that, besides interacting with the lecturers, the traditional class setting offers more opportunities for interesting tangents that assists a learner to understand better. Online learners also interact but in a different form. Student interactions happen via video chat or through online discussion posts. Some lecturers provide pre-recorded videos to assist in better understanding of assigned reading materials.

Traditional classes are better for people who ask a lot of question, have a problem in understanding, or lack self-discipline. Online classes would, however, be ideal for those who understand easily, can manage their time, or have a busy schedule. Traditional classes are a better choice for most people since they are used to this method of learning. Students are at an advantage since they can choose from the two methods of learning, but which style is better may differ from student to student or class to class.

The essay uses point-by-point pattern of organization and it is an informative essay


Works cited

Watson, John. "Blended Learning: The Convergence of Online and Face-to-Face Education. Promising Practices in Online Learning." North American Council for Online Learning (2008).

Allen, I. Elaine, and Jeff Seaman. Online nation: Five years of growth in online learning. Sloan Consortium. PO Box 1238, Newburyport, MA 01950, 2007.

Salmon, Gilly. E-tivities: The key to active online learning. Routledge, 2013.

Hrastinski, Stefan. "A theory of online learning as online participation." Computers & Education 52.1 (2009): 78-82.

Hopkins, Megan Elizabeth. Comparing the Effects of Traditional Learning (lecture) Vs. Independent Online Learning on Student Understanding in Weather and Geology. Bozeman: Montana State University, 2011.


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