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Online Learning

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Getting on the degree path that’s right for you is a big decision for many—and not something to take lightly. As employers demand more skills from employees, the demand of online degree programs has increased inpopularity. In fact, within the United States, 6.7 million students enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2011—an increase of more than 500,000 students compared to 2010.
What is the big difference in online versus traditional education?
“Each student learns differently and in today's era of increasing technology, the question will not be whether to offer classes online, but rather how to implement them,” says Allison Hiltz, a former online and traditional education student who writes for The Book Wheel Blog.
There are several options when it comes to online or traditional education degrees. The platform offers everything from certificates and diplomas to more advanced degree options such as an associate or bachelor’s degree.
With constant changes in technology from all different degree programs, let’s take a look at the advantages to an online versus traditional education and examine how each type of education impacts you as a student.
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.
Traditional Education
The traditional learning experience consists of attending classes in person on a campus. Younger students who are attending education 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 learning 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.
There are certainly more opportunities to join clubs, associations and other extracurricular activities while taking classes in the campus. Students who value the campus experience may also find the traditional campus atmosphere more desirable than just an online experience.
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:
Also, you may need additional assistance from guidance counselors and professors, which is more readily available on campus. Traditional classes may be a better choice for students who aren't very familiar with technology or who enjoy interacting with teachers and professors face-to-face.
In addition, there are some fields that require more hands-on training during class, such as:
• Automobile Mechanic/Technician
• Computer Science/ Engineering
• Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning Technician
• Nursing

Advantages of Traditional Education
1. Direct interaction 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

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. The assignments can also be submitted as per your time convenience.
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.
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
4. Cost effective but need investment to have computer and regular internet connection.

Online vs. traditional education: flexibility
One of the key components to consider when weighing the options is the amount of time you have everyday to work on your degree. Are you willing and able to attend college full-time or do you need more flexibility for your busy schedule?
Flexibility was a major concern for Casey Horton, a graduate of sociology and psychology from Ashford University. Horton, a working adult, needed an online program because of the convenience it offered. “If you are raising a family, working and can't find a job that [offers] a flexible schedule, then online is the best way,” Horton says.
Online education:
A benefit to taking online courses is that they offer flexibility to the student. This is a great option for those who already have a time commitment with family and work. Online classes will mold with your schedule—log in to your online course at a time that works best for you as opposed to having to attend a lecture at a specific time.
Traditional education:
This option is best for those who have a little more time in their schedule. Even if you’re hoping for a little flexibility, on-campus courses typically offer day and evening schedules so you can coordinate with your daily commitments. One thing you’ll need to remember to factor in is where you live and work in proximity to the campus.

Online vs. traditional education: discipline
Something else to consider while weighing your college options is how much you can discipline yourself. Do you need structure in order to be a successful student? Do you need a running to-do list every day to checks things off as you go? If so, an online degree may be a great pathway for you.
Discipline is important for online degrees as well as for traditional, on-campus degrees. University of Louisvillegraduate Anita Hoag found the most success with a bit of both. “[Being an online college student] does require more discipline, but if you have the right technology tools … it can be a very rewarding experience,” Hoag adds.
Online education:
Being an online student will work well for those who have the ability to self-motivate. Without a plan or some type of organization, your work will suffer in the online classroom, but if you set deadlines and prioritize your school schedule, you should see success.
Traditional education:
A traditional on-campus setting is probably best for you, if you know you need discipline to get work completed. This method will give you the support and will to complete assignments and tasks on a daily basis.
Online vs. traditional education: social interaction
One final area to consider is if you need a classroom experience that provides one-on-one communication for success. Do you need interaction from your peers and instructors to succeed? Or are you possibly someone who can thrive in an independent study environment?
Rowan University communications student Brian Kearney enjoys the face-to-face time with other students and instructors. “Being in a classroom and engaging with others helps in the learning process, which is something online courses cannot offer,” Kearney says.
Online education:
Interactions with instructors and peers will still happen as an online student. It just happens to be through online video instead. Learning through online video can help you to focus more on independently learning and your classes may even go quicker without some of the distractions of a traditional classroom education.
Traditional education:
Traditional education is better for those who need face-to-face communication. When you don't have direct interactions with your instructors, you may tend to do not as well with the work you already have. If this is the case for you, success will come with a traditional education setting.
Online vs. traditional education: the blended education model
At this point, you might be thinking there are pros and cons to both online and traditional education. Or perhaps both sound like a great option for you as a student. If so, a 2012 article from Inside Higher Educationalso agrees with you.
The article states that students who were part of a blended education model performed better than those who were exclusively one or the other. In fact, Rasmussen College found that its 14,000-plus students faired similarly.
So what is a blended education model?
Blended education combines the intimacy and face-to-face interaction of a physical classroom with the flexibility and convenience of an online one.
Schools like the blended model because it provides students with cutting-edge artificially intelligent tutoring software while allowing instructors flexibility in planning their syllabuses, the article states. Students appreciate the blended model because it offers a reprieve from dusty textbooks and mundane human lectures.
It’s clear there are many options for earning your degree. The new trend in blended education in schools across the country might just be coming to a college near you.
The decision is yours
At the end of the day, it’s your decision on how to earn your college degree. Hopefully these side-by-side comparisons gave you a better outlook at the college degree plan that is right for you.
Before you dive into a degree, be sure to research whether online or traditional education is the best fit for you. If they both sound like a winning formula, Rasmussen College offers a blended model that might be perfect.
For further information choosing the best school for you, be sure to check out the Compare Rasmussen College Checklist—it will help you to narrow down your college choices by evaluating factors that matter to you.

ONLINE EDUCATION VERSUS TRADITIONAL EDUCATION
There are more differences between online education and traditional education besides a couple of cords and a keyboard. Students participating in distance learning will experience different scores, different methods and a different lifestyle than those enrolled in a brick-and- mortar institution.
Different Lifestyle
Rather than being tethered to a specific time allotment, the online degree seeker is able to learn with complete flexibility. This is ideal for those with unconventional work hours, those working full time, those serving in the military or those raising a family.
Different Methods
The traditional method of lectures, books and desks may not be the optimum learning environment for every student. In a New York Times article, experts declared that the real promise of online education is "providing learning experiences that are more tailored to individual students than is possible in classrooms," which in turn fosters the concept of "learning by doing." Many students find this engagement more useful and more relevant.
Students at Northcentral University build upon this engagement with the assistance of a faculty mentor. These experienced community and industry leaders provide mentoring and individual insight on your coursework while offering guidance as you determine your career path.
Different Scores
Traditional students may need to sit down at their desks when they find out that another surprising difference between the two learning formats is higher scores. Studies have shown that students in online learning conditions perform better than those receiving traditional instruction.
Dr. Ralph Kuehn, Director of Mentors and Quality Assurance at Northcentral University, credits this success to the underlying format of Northcentral University.
"In seeking an online degree, each student relies upon their own motivation to complete each course and to eventually graduate," Kuehn said. "This motivation is a strong proponent for success."
Different Costs
The greatest gap between the traditional and the online could be bridged with currency. The cost of tuition at an online institution, like Northcentral, is a fraction of that at a traditional institution. Because an online university does not have the fees of maintaining a large campus and its classrooms, it is able to pass the savings onto students of all ages.
As you decide which learning environment is right for you, it is important to consider these differences. However, dont forget that the biggest difference is the impact that higher education - whether online or traditional - will have on your life.
There are, however, some cons to online education. These include limited direct contact with colleagues and professors, and fewer opportunities to join campus clubs and extracurricular activities. You also have to have a reliable computer and internet connection.
For those looking to get more of the social classroom experience, a traditional education might be the better fit. For those looking for a more flexible option, online education is something to check out. Another option is to use online resources to supplement and enhance your traditional education. Study.com has a diverse selection of courses, including a wide variety of college-credit courses. These courses can help you prepare for exams, learn professional development skills, and even accelerate your degree progress with college credit, while still allowing you the freedom to participate in extracurricular activities or chat in-person with professors and classmates.

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