With the advent of modern technology, including faster Internet speeds, the emergence of smartphones and laptops with ultra-advanced processing capabilities, a lot of things are changing – the way we shop, the way we consume media, even the options we have at getting an actual degree.
It may be hard to digest the facts at first, but the future of education has arrived. Classes are now turning to Youtube to augment any learning gaps. File sharing and “paperless” submissions are now encouraged. Most colleges and institutions are now opening their online portals to foster inclusivity and accommodate a much diverse cohort of students who, for some reason (such as financial limitations, living in a remote area, child-rearing, full-time employment), cannot attend a physical class.
Today, students are able to choose between attending actual classes at a university or pursuing their degrees online through distance learning modalities (video conferencing, file sharing, audiovisual learning, and messaging platforms). But the question remains: do online colleges offer the same kind of learning that can be provided by formal classroom instruction?
Brick and Mortar Colleges
Brick and mortar colleges offer a more tangible and traditional way of accomplishing one’s learning goals. When a student enrolls in a class or a few courses (depending on their syllabus and required units), they are expected to go through a formal process, and possibly, wait in line and follow a standard procedure to register and pay for course fees. They will then be able to attend classes regularly in person and are expected to comply with the necessary coursework given.
With in-person learning, there is a human element that allows students to connect immediately and direct their attention towards the person talking. Students get more time to interact with their peers, form strong connections organically, and figure out difficult concepts together, which may be difficult to get by with distance learning. Teachers are also more accessible and are able to assist students immediately should questions come up. In a classroom set-up, students are expected to be more at ease, because this method of learning has been long-standing and around for ages, with the majority of us already familiar with it.
Traditional college learning offers a no-nonsense approach to earning your degree, and since most of them are accredited and regulated by government education boards, you will have some peace of mind, knowing that you will get certified transcripts and valid credentials as you finish the program.
With online learning and virtual classrooms, students are given more options as to how they would like to proceed, starting from a possible choice of platform, the flexibility of schedules, the combination of courses that can be attended in a day or week, even the instructors who would teach a certain class. This kind of freedom is appealing to students who would like to earn a degree, or to professionals who would like to proceed with graduate studies (but don’t have the time and/or budget to attend not-so-flexible in-person sessions).
When it comes to enrollment, registration and payment methods are also more convenient, which can be a good thing if you don’t have much time on your hands. Students can just go to the school’s online portal, log-in, register for the class/es they would like to attend, and pay via credit card or bank transfer. Some institutions even offer group discounts and offer online programs at lower rates compared to their in-classroom counterparts.
With virtual classrooms and learning supplementation via videos, presentations, and other media, gaps between the students and the instructor are filled, if not improved. Submissions are also a breeze, whether by email or uploading media through the class’s cloud storage.
It’s also good to note that with the emergence of e-learning and open universities offering degrees online, students should check the legitimacy of these programs with accrediting bodies, with actual units and transcripts that are certified and can be verified.
So, do they offer equal services?
The simple answer to this question is that in most cases, online schools do require most of the same work, and meet most of the same standards as a brick and mortar colleges-universities. You will even find these days that standard colleges with verified track-records and credentials will offer an online option for people that are unable to attend on campus.
When choosing an online college it is important to find out information as to if the college is accredited through a quality accreditation group. Sometimes online colleges go above and beyond the requirements and they get accredited by more than one accreditation group, and of course, this is a good thing for enrollees.
Now as for brick and mortar colleges-universities, you will find some qualities that you just can not find from an online college. In most cases, you can find at the basic college a few social groups that you can be a part of, although this may not be as important to you as you get older. Of course, there lies the prospect of finding valuable professional connections that could benefit you in the future, but that idea may be a long shot (and of course, nothing is guaranteed). You will also have to face to face time with a college professor which in some cases may mean a lot. Online schools may also provide one-on-one sessions with the professor, however, you should check with the school first this before you sign up.
Another good aspect of online colleges is the cost of tuition as compared to brick and mortar colleges and universities. Most of the time you will do way better, in the long run, considering you do not have to live close, no fuel cost to drive there and back home, and another aspect is the fact that you can sit in your bed with a laptop in your undies all day and take the courses whenever you like. That alone my friends are big points in my book!
With all these expanded options that both online colleges and standard brick and mortar colleges offer today, you will find that the demand for educated white-collar workers just keeps growing with no end in sight. In fact, most places these days are having a hard time finding enough well-educated employees to fill the demand. Most certainly in the near future, every single degree-holder will have a place in the employment world.