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Online Versus Traditional Education

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Online versus Traditional Education
Thomas Brantley
COM155
March 02, 2014
Nancy Slack

Online versus Traditional Education

Dating back to the 1600s, higher education has been a part of society for hundreds of years. Founded in the early 1600s, the oldest higher education institution in America is Harvard University. In these earlier days of higher education, institutions were religious affiliated and directed students more toward spiritual studies. Many important programs created by our government stimulated enrollment through loans and grants. One of the most prominent was the National Defense Education Act of 1958. With the number of changes in higher education, some good and some bad, one thing remains the same from all, the need for change and to evolve. A new development in American education is emerging. This new change is distance education. The internet has greatly helped evolve distance education into what it is today through online learning systems. Many do not see distance education as something of high credibility. However, distance education through online learning systems today has gained great popularity in a society filled with busy individuals who do not seem to have the time to go into a classroom setting day after day. While online college discussion and instruction is different, both online and traditional colleges have a similar structure, assignments and both are regionally and nationally accredited.

Although class discussion of a traditional college is different from an online college, both use a course syllabus to provide a structured learning environment. In a traditional college setting, students sit in a physical classroom and engage in open discussion, collaboration and group learning. Students have a choice in traditional college to engage in discussion or to not. In an online program students will sign into a virtual classroom. These virtual classrooms are like a discussion forum on the web. The instructor will post questions in the online discussion forums. It is a requirement for everyone to participate and engage in class discussions and collaborate on ideas for a better group learning environment. Both online and traditional colleges use a course syllabus to ensure a unified structure across the board. However, in a traditional college, the professor may decide to remove some of the course studies from the syllabus. Many college professors in traditional colleges issue the course syllabus in a digital format just as in an online college course. In both online and traditional college settings, the course syllabus may be issued on the first day of class. The course syllabus for both online and traditional college contains a course or class title, name of the professor or instructor, course expectations, attendance policy, other university policies, topics, materials, assignments and due dates and grading policies. For both online and traditional college, the course syllabus helps students understand policies and understand the requirements for class and assignments.

Even without the face to face instruction in a traditional college program, online colleges still have similar requirements for assignments. Instruction in a traditional college may be held in person with face to face interaction. Students may come to class with books, a laptop or both and read through materials and take notes while the instructor gives direction. Traditional college professors may present class instruction through lectures, a slide show, or both. Assignments have an assigned deadline as the professor advises. Students may be required to turn in paper assignments that are printed for the professor to review. Online instructed students receive written instruction provided by the course instructor on the student website. Students use a personal computer, tablet or other multimedia device to read e-books and other online resources. Instructors may post links on the student website to slide shows, videos or written instruction. Assignments for online college also have deadlines as the instructor advises. Students turn in assignments by submitting a saved assignment file to the student website in the file format that the instructor advises. Both online and traditional colleges have weekly assignment deadlines and turn in assignments according to the professor’s or instructor’s requirements. It is said that the rigor of online college is just as challenging as that of a traditional college.

Although online college format is different and not yet recognized by everyone or everywhere, both online and traditional colleges are regionally and nationally accredited. Accreditation is important regardless of the school of choice. Whichever university or institution one chooses; he or she should be sure the school is either regionally or nationally accredited by a recognized accrediting agency. A school will often list accreditation credentials on their website. If there is no accreditation information listed, the student should call the school and ask an enrolment counselor. One must be cautious of non-reputable or non-existent accrediting organizations. If an agency claims to be internationally accredited, it is not likely a legitimate organization. To ensure the accrediting agency is legitimate, one should check with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or CHEA. One can also check the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the accrediting agency is genuine. One way to find this information is through federal financial student aid. "Students can only receive federal student aid from schools accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. government." (Hayne, 2013). Regardless if the school is an online education institution or a traditional college, accreditation does not verify the school or institution quality. However, accreditation does ensure that the graduating student will receive a real and credible college degree.

Although conversations and teachings take place in a different way, both online and traditional schools use a similar structure, present challenging assignments, and issue students an authentic college degree. Both online and traditional colleges hold in-class discussions for student engagement collaboration and group learning. There is a course or class syllabus used to help students stay focused on expectations, assignments and school and instructor or professor policies. Students will receive instruction, direction, read materials and complete assignments as appointed by a professor or instructor. Deadlines and the format or manner assignments are to be turned in, is directed by the instructor or professor. Online and traditional schools distribute assignments that are challenging for students. Any student who is planning to pursue a college degree, rather in an online or traditional college, he or she should check the institution’s accreditation credentials. Contact the Council for Higher Education or the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the accrediting agency is legitimate. While accreditation does not represent quality, it does certify the school to issue a genuine college degree. When comparing options, one should consider needs, use empirical evidence, and weigh the differences when choosing a school.

Sources:

Cassidy, S. (2014, February 10). Virtual Learning: Students opting for online classes from colleges. LancasterOnline. Retrieved from http://lancasteronline.com/lifestyle/virtual-learning-students-opting-for-online-classes-from-colleges/article_337ebe68-9264-11e3-b1c9-001a4bcf6878.html
Haynie, D. (2014, January 6). U.S. News Releases 2014 Best Online Programs Rankings. U.S. News.
Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2014/01/08/us-news- releases-2014-best-online-programs-rankings History of American Higher Education Pursuing the College Degree. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.randomhistory.com/1-50/039degree.html

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