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Online vs. Traditional Education

Updated on June 13, 2016
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The job market has become much more competitive in the last few years. As companies cut back on labor to stay in business, education has become extremely important for employees who want to be more competitive in their current positions or want to transition into a new career. The level of competition for good jobs has made obtaining a certification or degree an absolute necessity. More people are returning to school than ever before. Many are choosing to obtain degrees online while others are returning to the campus to further their education. So which option is better? Let’s explore the pros and cons of both.

Trends in Education

Education has become one of the fastest growing “businesses” in recent years. It seems like there is a new commercial every week for a new online university, technical, or school of business. Online education has become more popular in today’s fast paced society. Online courses allow students to take courses from different states and even from different countries. I personally received my MPA from Troy University (Alabama) from the comfort of my home in Virginia. Some schools offer in-class courses, online courses, or hybrid courses. Hybrid courses are both in-class and online. These courses often have online classes one week and in-class sessions the next week. Some schools offer hybrid programs which include a mix of in-class courses, online courses, and hybrid classes. More Traditional schools or so called “brick and mortar” institutions are offering more online courses in response to the surge of online universities. I was a little resistant to online courses. However, my job and family responsibilities made it a necessity to take online courses and it turned out to be the best option for me.

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The Case for Traditional Education

The traditional college experience consists of attending classes in person on a campus. Younger students who are attending college for the first time could benefit from the traditional learning environment. Younger students may need more guidance and more direct contact with professors and academic advisors. Traditional classes may also be a better fit for students with limited resources and limited computer access. If you’re living on campus, it only makes sense to take classes on campus.

For the more “mature” student, the traditional educational setting in the classroom may be a more comfortable fit. This option may also be better if the student is returning to school for the first time in many years. Although this is not always the case, older students tend to be a little less tech savvy and might prefer a more traditional setting.

Students who value the campus experience may also find the traditional campus atmosphere more desirable than just an online experience. There are more opportunities to engage in student activities such as fraternities/sororities as well as concerts and sporting events that typically occur on campus.

The classroom setting is also the most appropriate setting for technical or trade schools. Education on campus is also needed in professions that specifically require “hands on” training in laboratories, clinics, and shops. These schools consist of but are not limited to the following areas of study:

Automobile Mechanic/Technician

Computer Science/ Engineering

Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning Technician (HVAC)

Welder/ Machinist

Nursing/ Medical Professions

Chef/ Food Service

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The Case for Online Education

Online education, also referred to as distance learning involves taking courses over the internet as opposed to in the classroom setting. Online education has become more popular in recent years. This popularity is largely due to the flexibility and convenience that an online educational experience provides. Online education provides an opportunity to take classes from the convenience of home. In addition, online education provides more flexibility by allowing students to work at their own pace without the confines of a strict class schedule.

Online classes tend to be more beneficial for students who work full-time and have additional family responsibilities. Online course assignments can be completed at work (don’t tell my boss), home, or anywhere you can carry your laptop. This form of learning makes it ideal for students on the go.

In addition to flexibly and convenience, online courses can also be more cost effective. Classes are taken online so there is no need to drive to class. This saves gas as well as additional wear and tear on your vehicle. Each school is different so you may be required to take certain tests in person at “proctor” sites. These sites are approved by the university and work directly with the school to ensure that students are taking tests as instructed (i.e., no books, notes, etc).

Online schools are also ideal for students in the military or have jobs that require frequent travel. Courses can be taken from anywhere in the world. When I was at Troy University, I took classes with students in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. It was really interesting to interact with students from all over the country. I have listed a few pros and cons of online education and the traditional campus experience.

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Advantages of Online Education

1. More flexibility for students who work full-time

2. The ability to complete assignments at times when it is most convenient

3. The ability to obtain a degree from a school in another state without moving

4. This form of education is ideal for military students

5. Less Travel


Disadvantages of Online Education

1. Less direct contact with students and professors

2. Limited opportunities for student and campus activities

3. Subject to “technical difficulties” and software crashes


Advantages of Traditional Education

1. Direct contact with teachers, students, and advisors

2. More access to campus activities

3. More suitable for hands on training


Disadvantages of Traditional Education

1. Less flexibility in class scheduling

2. Less cost effective

3. More travel to and from class

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Despite the surge in online universities, I believe there is more than enough room for both options. The key is to find the best fit for your personal needs. Education has proven to be the key to success and it really doesn’t matter which method you choose. There is nothing like the campus experience. However, there is no disputing the flexibility and convenience of distance learning.

Which form of education do you prefer?

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© 2013 Martin D Gardner

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    • profile image

      ignugent17 3 years ago

      I think I will always like traditional education. We can do things online but I still need to be with people to discuss things face to face. :-)

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      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Since I wanted to get my Bachelors when I was in my late thirties, I was too busy to attend school at a campus, so I chose University of Phoenix online. I loved it. I think there's a common misconception that online school is easier, however, in a way, it's just as hard, if not more difficult because there is a ton of writing involved versus in classroom participation, which I was never fond of! Great explanation in this hub. voted up and welcome to hubpages!

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Thanks for your input and the welcome. I agree online courses are much harder than people think. I would much rather be in class instead of writing out everything to get credit for participation.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I actually love writing, so it didn't bother me too badly, (thankfully)!

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Thanks!

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      Tre Griffey 3 years ago from Utah, USA

      I think that traditional education is better. I'm always so skeptical of doing classes online. I think that I won't learn what I need to and then I'll have problems on test or even in the future.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great job of comparing distance learning with traditional classes. I fully agree with your conclusion. Welcome to HubPages, and I'm honored to follow you.

    • cozytown profile image

      cozytown 3 years ago from Mechanicville, NY

      Great job. I have found that online education takes a great deal of self-discipline to complete the classes. The open-ended classes where you have to complete the work ... whenever are truly difficult. Stick with the ones with deadlines and more structure and things will be a lot easier.

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      RoseP28 3 years ago

      Excellent job on your comparison. I am almost finished with an online program myself and it can definitely be rewarding but certainly requires a great deal of self-discipline as mentioned. It is not for everyone but you can get hands-on experience depending on the program your school has. Although you do not have the face-to-face interaction, you still do have a lot of involvement with your professors and other students through discussion forums, online class projects, and weekly assignments depending on how each class is set up. I highly recommend them for people who are motivated enough to complete the program but are unable to attend traditional classes. Thank you for your great insight on options to get an education.

    • sminut13 profile image

      sminut13 3 years ago from singapore

      Thanks for sharing this informative hub. I agree with the earlier post in that doing online courses definitely need lots of self-discipline. I tried to do an online free course, just to improve something of myself and I'm just too lazy hehe But it's also partly due to the poor internet connection at my place. Hopefully, after my holiday, I can continue it where I stay and complete it. Thanks once again.

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Thanks and good luck to you.

    • Natya Sri profile image

      Natya Sri 3 years ago

      thanks for the good information good luck to you

    • Schoolmom24 profile image

      Schoolmom24 3 years ago from Oregon

      Great job with this hub. It's true, it really depends on the individual and what those needs\desires are. Today, my guess is that online degrees are a lot less expensive and quicker than attending a four year college! And so many have to pay student loans for years and years. Not sure if our kids could go to college without a scholarship...Anyway, you presented both sides well, voted up! I'm new here and hope you'll stop by! :)

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Thanks. I'm new as well and still learning.

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      Sajib 3 years ago from Bangladesh

      I prefer on campus education than online education. I think education is not about to learn or gather only the textbook knowledge. It’s about to communicate the others, discuss, group work etc. Online education means distance education. At present it significantly spread all over the world. It has some good result too. Many students doing well in the job sector who get knowledge form online. But I like campus education. It helps a student to build up his or her mental and physical strength besides textbook knowledge. Nice hub. Thanks.

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Thanks. Yes the personal connection is not the same when taking classes online.

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      Salman Hussain 3 years ago

      Thanks for your valuable advise I definitely go with to get education through Online due to my job and family look after my job

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Thanks. I'm glad you found it helpful.

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 3 years ago from United States

      To me traditional education is better, but I also agree with the benefits of online education especially to those working students or stay-at-home parents who still aim to get a degree. Very helpful and interesting hub, thanks for posting. :)

    • Melinda Longoria profile image

      Melinda Longoria, MSM 3 years ago from Garland, Texas

      I obtained two of three of my degrees online. Quite a few of my professors stated during orientation that their online format was more difficult than traditional classes because they expected more of students who took online courses. Knowing the difference between the two, I would agree with this statement. I found that a lot more reading and self discipline is required for the online classes.

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Thanks for the feedback FullofLoveSites. Melinda I agree discipline is the key especially for online courses.

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      Lisa 2 years ago

      Online education has many advantages like what you wrote in this article. However, not all education can be done online. For example, part of healthcare courses can be done online. But students must take clinical training to understand what they learned in a real life. I recently wrote an article about how to choose the right online sonography program, you may have interest in it: http://www.ultrasoundtechniciancenter.org/online-s...

      Good feedback is welcome! Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Inspire, Motivate and Engage 2 years ago

      Really insightful, thank you for sharing. You raise some very interesting pros and cons for online versus traditional education. We have also written about the benefits of online education here 'tinyurl.com/benefitsofelearning'. I hope you find it as an interesting read.

    • bestonlineschools profile image

      Best Online Schools 2 years ago from UK

      It is true as Melinda pointed out that online schooling requires more handwork, more reading plus self-discipline among others. But at the end of the day online schooling is worth it as per my experience.

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 2 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I was a little nervous about online education but it ended up being the best choice once I became too busy to attend classes.

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      Shivani Tiwari 2 years ago

      online education is very good for those who are not bookworms and want to gain knowledge with creativity and intereset very flexible less time consuming

    • dhimanreena profile image

      Reena Dhiman 2 years ago

      Thanks for a great hub. Both education type have distinct benefits. Online education is cheap & easy as compare to traditional education. But some people want learning via online due to their job for which online education is best.

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 2 years ago from Virginia Beach

      Dhimanreena thanks for stopping by and the kind comment.

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      Emma Emily 2 years ago

      Thanks a lot

    • Rakim Cheeks profile image

      Rakim Cheeks 24 months ago

      Great hub! I recently graduated from college last December! And I have to say I got a chance to experience a traditional education and a online education. To be Frank, both were great assets for me. However, if I had to choose one, I'd probably go with the online education because I'll be able to commuicate with most of my classmates, and engage in online discussions. Not to mention, more online courses are increasing in today's society. Again, outstanding Hub Mr. Gardner

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 24 months ago from Virginia Beach

      Rakim congrats on your graduation and thanks for the comments. Online education is definitely on the rise in our fast paced paced society.

    • MaharshiRudra profile image

      Maharshi Rudra 21 months ago from India

      On Campus learning... it's like main pillar of society.

    • robertkbrown profile image

      robertkbrown 20 months ago

      It was nice reading your article :) I have been planning on getting a California contractors license ( http://www.freedombusinessschool.com/scripts/prodL... ) . The thing is , I have been busy with work and distance education; and online learning is the only option I have. I was confused with which option should I choose. Your article has helped me to reach a final decision.

    • DebraHargrove profile image

      Debra Hargrove 17 months ago from North Carolina

      Your hub is very useful. Now that the weather is getting colder it's a good time to look into something meaningful to do indoors while waiting for spring.

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 17 months ago from Virginia Beach

      Good point. Online classes come in handy when it's 3-4 inches of snow on the ground. Thanks for stopping by.

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      Leesa Johnson 2 months ago

      Nice information. In competitive days online education plays an important role in human life because they can learn many skills online from experts. A traditional method of teaching also important because students can directly connect with teachers, students, and advisors.

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      Kris Maldarelli 2 months ago

      As an instructor both online and onsite, I prefer teaching onsite, but love the flexibility of online learning as a student.

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      Jack Berghorst 2 months ago

      good article. I'm happy that I have been able to do both. Campus living was great, but at this stage in my life, online is perfect.

    • mdgardner profile image
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      Martin D Gardner 2 months ago from Virginia Beach

      Thanks for the positive feedback. Both options provide great benefits. I'm noticing the hybrid classes are becoming more popular as well.

    • hiichichi profile image

      hiichichi 4 weeks ago

      For me I prefer online cos more than half of my day is spent online. Almost all my daily engagements are online. On campus couldn't have been better for me.

      Nice job.

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      joe 10 days ago

      hi. i like this article. very helpful

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