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Free «Online Learning vs. Learning in Traditional Classrooms» Essay Sample


Students who wish to gain more knowledge on a particular issue may use the Internet to do personal research. However, relying on online classes alone can create obstacles in learning. Students require guidance from their teachers on what they are to do. They also need to interact with peer students in order to understand concepts better and integrate multiple perspectives of solving problems. Being in a traditional classroom provides students with an opportunity to experience freedom and interact with the world. Putting a student in a room with a computer means that the student will never be able to bond with the professor and other students.

When studying online, it becomes difficult for students to clear their doubts. It is hard for a student to clarify something that he/she does not understand. This is because the student cannot consult an expert on that subject for further clarification. Students do not have the same ability to understand concepts. In a traditional classroom setting, the student is in direct contact with the professors, library, laboratory, and peer students. In a traditional classroom, the student is able to ask questions and get different interpretations of the problem. Moreover, he/she can gain an experience of using multiple methods of arriving at the solution. These methods provide adequate resources for student to clear doubts. This is not possible in an online learning program.



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Adult students are better suited to take up online classes than younger students. This is because adult students already have had a real life experience in a working environment. They are usually already working and have families that depend on them. These people are able to portray a high level of responsibility while taking up their classes. Often, people who study online have working experience in the area they are trying to acquire a degree. Therefore, it becomes logical for these students to enroll in online degree programs. It is not necessary for these persons to adjust their working schedules, leave the family, and spend a lot of time travelling just to attend a traditional class.

Young high school students cannot gain the same befits from online classes as experienced adult learners can. At their age, they require more attention because they have no working experience. They need a teacher to be there in person to help them understand and practice basic concepts.

Online classes are only necessary for people who are working and at the same time want to acquire a degree, or for people who have families and have to be at home to take care of children. Online education is for experienced people and not for starters.

Online Learning vs. Learning in Traditional Classrooms


Adults go to college to get a promotion at the work place. College campus has a lot of social activities and provides a good environment for interaction. Online classes are only beneficial for people who are trying to work and study at the same time. Online learning is most suitable for people who have families and have to be at home to take care of children. Online learning cannot be as effective as traditional classroom learning.

Research Findings

Research conducted by the National Survey of Students' Engagement indicates that about 11 percent of adult students attending college in a traditional method spend about 25 hours a week studying and being involved in class activities out of the possible 168 hours a week. 40 percent of these students spend only about 10 hours a week. There is a huge difference between studying patterns of students aged between 18-22 years and adult students (Howard, Schenk, & Discenza, 2004).

Adults who are involved in online education are more successful in it than teenage students. This is because adult students are more mature and responsible than teenage students. College students are aged between 18 and 22 years. These students benefit mostly from traditional “live” college classrooms because of its social atmosphere. Social atmosphere in traditional classroom helps college students get away from their parents and interact with their age mates. Traditional college classroom gives freedom to students teaching them to be responsible. Young students look at college life as a social life. It is an opportunity for them to share ideas and interact with their age mates. College gives young students freedom to live on campus with friends and  away from their parents.

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Traditional classroom teaching is more effective than online classes because the teacher is able to choose the most interesting methods of teaching a certain topic. The teacher achieves this through personal interaction with the student. Classroom teaching can be made enjoyable by organizing different in-class activities, projects, and group work where students can work together. These activities give students an opportunity to actively take part in the learning process. Students are able to share ideas amongst themselves, thus making the learning process more interesting.

Attending traditional classes gives students an opportunity to acquire hands-on skills by following what the teacher is doing. For young students, it is most convenient to attend traditional classes because interacting with other students enables them to understand simple concepts that appear so hard when tackled alone. If a student does not understand a certain concept, then clearing the doubt with the instructor can be very frustrating when studying online.

The major requirement for being successful in life is socialization. The presence of in-person interaction with the teacher and with other students creates a perfect environment for this kind of socialization.

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The main disadvantage in a traditional classroom is distraction. In every classroom, there is at least one individual who has no desire to be in class. These individuals make comments that are misguided and out of context. This usually happens in high school and college. These students make these comments in an attempt to appear cool. These distractions prevent individuals with a real desire for learning from voicing their opinion. Most often, students with the most constructive opinions feel shy and are unable to contribute to a discussion  and avoid snide comments that may follow. If such students were participating in an online class, they would have to formulate thoughts and arguments well before submitting them. This could help avoid unnecessary comments from students who do not contribute constructively. Also, if a person does not wish to contribute or feels bored, one can logout without distracting other students. This elimination of class distraction encourages people who have a real desire to learn. It also gives those who may feel bored in a class environment an opportunity to use their time doing other constructive things (Moore & Kearsley, 2011).

There is evidence of self-discipline in online learning, which provides an environment that resembles workplace. People are expected to be self-motivated and meet deadlines at the workplace.

Online classes are most convenient for people who have a lot of responsibilities. To participate in online learning, one only needs to have a computer and access to the Internet. Then, one can access all class materials online through emails or school websites. Online learning is cost-effective since it only requires one lecturer to be able to reach millions of students worldwide (LeFrancois, 2011).

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Most adult students have full-time jobs, and they may not have the time to attend classes. Most of the adult students are also parents, who have to take care of their families. This makes it difficult for adult students to participate in traditional learning methods.

The main advantage of online classes is that they are low-cost. If there was  no online education and only traditional classes were available, most students would not afford to study.

When attending online classes, the student is able to schedule the classes as per his/her own time-table. There are no chances of crash programs or missed classes due to unavailability of the lecturer. Online classes also give students the opportunity to submit their assignments and sit for exams at their own convenience. Developments in technology have enabled students to proactively participate in online classes. Students are able to raise hands and ask questions through chatbox. The tutor can then answer the question immediately as other students also listen. There is a healthy discussion between individuals from different parts of the world, which encourages peer group learning. Improvement in technology has enhanced online learning to match the qualities of a traditional classroom.

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Another advantage of online classes is that it helps the student avoid the hassle of having to commute to and from school and thus wasting a lot of time. Another issue that is tackled well in online classes is relevant for students who find themselves in trouble at school most of the time. Many students may drop out of school due to bullying. Some may be bullied and feel like they are not comfortable to attend school. Other students may be sent home by the administration after being accused of bullying. For these students, online classes can be a perfect option for them to study peacefully (Rudestam & Schoenholtz-Read, 2010).

Online tutors are not able to provide interpersonal experience that a student requires to understand concepts. This is unlike faculty professors who are there if a student requires clarification of a particular issue. There are limited opportunities for online students to interact and work on applied activities with experts in the field. Online courses do not give student an opportunity to look at conflicting perspectives. This is because the lecture is recorded and all students listen to the same recorded lecture. In a traditional classroom setting, there are oral discussions and debates, which help students look at a problem from diverse perspectives.

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Online education may not be able to provide an opportunity to evaluate communication skills such as presentation. This makes it difficult for online classes to reflect the real working environment that the student will face at the workplace.

Studying online also has some distractions. There are also many opportunities that a student may use to cheat. A student may open a new window and login to a social website. Such students will waste a lot of time that could have been used studying. A student may also open a new tab when doing an exam online and search for answers online. It is also very possible for a student to let somebody else do the exam for him/her as the teacher is not physically around. There is no way for the teacher to ascertain that the student submits his/her own work. When reading or listening to a lecture online, the teacher does not have any control when the student is talking on a phone, playing games, or listening to music. These things cannot happen in a traditional classroom setting since students are forced to stay in class and pay attention to the lecturer.

Exposure to conflicting perspectives is the most crucial aspect of education. It promotes critical and adaptive thinking and enhances open-mindedness. The main aim of education is to help students think critically and creatively. Traditional classrooms are very effective at providing students with the opportunity to become creative (Hiltz & Goldman, 2005).

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Millions of students are currently enrolled in online learning programs in the United States. This indicates popularity of online learning that has increased significantly in the past few years. Students from other countries are also joining this trend. With Internet availability, online learning has become the best option for students who are unable to attend traditional classrooms.

An individual may opt to take up online classes for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons may include the fact that institution that the individual wishes to enroll in is located in a different country. This makes online learning the best option to avoid the trouble of getting travel passports. An individual may also take up online learning if he/she is already employed and does not have time to attend fulltime classes.

Children going through their middle and high school education may miss a key aspect that is necessary for brain development. Building knowledge at this level requires deep construction through looking at different perspectives. This can only be achieved through interaction dialogue, hands-on skills, and applications. Traditional classroom gives a student an opportunity to learn how to navigate social situations, explore more abstract and deeper concepts, and explore different methods of solving the same problem. Such opportunities cannot be found in online classes (Denton, 1998).  

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Online learning may provide students an opportunity to work at their own comfort. This is usually very fruitful when presented to adult students. This may have a deteriorating effect on young students aged below 24 years. Young students working at their own potential will stunt their brain development. At their age, the brain is developing and it needs to work under certain pressure to realize its full potential. This is why working under the assurance and comforts of online learning will not be as effective as getting education in traditional classrooms. Online class is a great supplemental tool for traditional classroom learning, but it cannot replace traditional classroom.


Students need teachers to demonstrate them what to do. Traditional classroom has many benefits such as teacher-student interaction and student-student interaction. These interactions play a vital role in the learning process. Online learning may cause a student to be detached and may hinder the process of learning.

Online education is fruitful if taken by a student who has already acquired the first degree. This is because interaction with the tutor and other classmates is vital for the student to understand most of the basic concepts (Darbyshire, 2005).

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The job market does not discriminate any degree, whether it is from an online program or traditional classroom learning. Individuals need to consider their options and select the most appropriate method depending on their own schedule. They need to choose an option that will help the individual succeed in acquiring the degree and the one that fits the individual's lifestyle the most.

It is possible to learn through online classes, however, what one learns through online classes is not what one will need in life. Young students who enroll in online classes do not exploit their potential to the fullest. This is because these students are going through a social and brain development phase that requires interaction with peer students as well as the dialogue with the tutor. Missing this opportunity may have lifelong implications for the student.

Online classes may be perceived as not having any distractions and can be taken up at the comfort of the learner. However, it is important to note that distractions are everywhere, even at home. Distraction in a classroom is often beneficial to a student because all students in that class have a common goal - to understand the concepts taught.


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