Is Traditional Classroom Learning Better Than Online?

Reviewed: November 05, 2015
By FinanceWeb


The global economy and the Information Age place a high value on knowledge. For business or employment, success increasingly depends on the ability to acquire knowledge and put it to effective use. Opportunities in the global economy reward flexibility and rapid adaptation. To keep pace, educational providers have adopted online teaching to reach more students and particularly those unable to attend campus classrooms. The increased use of online education raises a question, whether classroom education is better than online education.

The Nature of Learning

Reduced to basics, learning consists of an opportunity to get knowledge and the optimal times for learning, and these are the particular points at which students are most receptive to education. Both online and classroom settings provide an opportunity for learning. Taking a classroom seat or turning on a computer, each put the student in the opportunity position. The readiness factor can be most important.

Picking Time and Place

Classrooms are teacher-centric, and they proceed on schedules both for time and content arranged by the teacher or institution. Online settings are likely more student-centered, the student can select a time when the learning readiness seems optimal. He or she may also have flexible choices as to the lesson for the day. Taking advantage of the best times to learn, students can have a more efficient learning experience with online education.

Group Dynamics

Traditional classroom learning provides direct communications and immediate feedback. It also involves teachers and students as groups. Students compete, and teachers use student participation to help teach. Online classes can have similar features such as a social media platform for interaction. Some more advanced models have real time interaction that can simulate some group dynamics. Classroom settings offer opportunities for feedback for the teacher too. There can be a profound level of communication when a question to the class gets nothing but blank stares in response.

The Better Teacher

The question of online versus classroom learning has an intuitive answer; it is the student with the better teacher that will learn more. The quality of instruction matters more that the format; the key is the ability to relate information in an understandable and memorable way. Teaching is an art, and it also reflects individual talent. Talented, able, and knowledgeable teachers may be rare, but their impacts on students can last a lifetime.

The Best of Both Worlds

For cost effectiveness and scheduling flexibility, many schools offer course content in online formats as well as classroom settings. Sometimes housed in departments called distance learning centers, schools have discovered a cost effective way of expanding curricula and available coursework.

To Thyself be True

The fair conclusion about the advantages online versus classroom education boils down to the student knowing something about the self. If motivated and ready to give the effort needed, a student can thrive in either format. There may be personality traits and stages of development in which the online focus or classroom interaction could make a profound difference in the learning experience. As stated above, many schools combine online and classroom features because research supports the effectiveness of each form.

The Most Important Thing

Learning is the most important consideration. The accepted wisdom is that every student is better for the learning experience, whether online or classroom, than without it. The demands of the global economy put a premium on knowledge, and learning is a tool for success. Among the principle advantages, online learning is more convenient and less costly than classroom learning. It appeals to those already employed or with limited time for fixed classroom schedules. Similarly, those who thrive in interactive environments with immediate feedback may have a far more meaningful and rewarding experience in a classroom setting. But for those who prefer interaction, time and convenience may pose barriers. Overall, the most important thing is to get the knowledge, and it matters more than the learning form or setting.