One of the many problems students face nowadays is the difficulty of coming to class. If you are a bad student who doesn’t go to class, should you have just taken an online course instead? Or will you perform even worse somehow? Which form of education is better, online or traditional? And which of them should you take so you’ll get a better grade.
One of the classes I’m taking this semester is ACCTG 211, the required Accounting class that every Business major has to take. While selecting my courses for the fall, I was given an option to take the lecture version of this course, or an online version of this course. I chose the traditional class setting, but was that a mistake? Would I have done better in the class if I took the online version of it instead?
A fundamental question arises. Do we learn better in a traditional setting or online setting? Living in the 21st century, we are gradually shifting from reality to digital. We take notes by typing on computers instead of writing. We google things we don’t know about and click on a Wikipedia page instead of going to the library and picking up a book. And now we have the option to take online classes instead of going to a traditional one. Are we getting too far away from “reality”? Does some components of learning MUST be in person in order to achieve the optimal amount learning?
An instructor conducted a survey asking students regarding the effectiveness of his video lectures in communicating course content. The results were: 57% of students strongly agree that video lectures are effective, 33% agree, 4% are neutral, and only 6% disagree. Many students said to the open-ended question that it is nice to have a power point of the lecture online. One said they had technical difficulties viewing the video lecture. Another student complained that the video quality was too low making the lecture less appealing.
There are many factors which determine which form of course a person should take. It also depends on your personal preference. Maybe you are a person who need to be in a traditional class setting in order to learn. Maybe you don’t trust yourself to attend traditional class lectures at 8:00AM so you sign up for the online course instead. Maybe you need social interaction with your peers and instructor to do better. Maybe you are working full-time while balancing 20 credits and does not have time to attend lectures so you watch video lectures right after you get off work at 3AM. The real question is, should you choose a traditional class setting even though you aren’t a morning person or have no time? Should you try to make time to go to a lecture because you will get a better grade?
Studies show that online courses require more discipline from the student. This means you have to take it upon yourself to learn and study. Therefore, if you don’t think you can make it to the 8AM lecture, don’t think you’ll do better in an online course. If you have no flexibility in your schedule, you should choose the online class instead. Do not choose the online class so you’ll have more free time. Chances are you’ll spend even more time studying for an online class compared to a traditional class so you should just take the traditional road. If you are an independent person, one who does not like distractions or interactions with other people, online class is for you.
According to the Journal of Public Affairs Education, it is easier for students to ignore the instructor in online classes. On the other hand, online class give less anxiety to students compared to a traditional class. Online classes provide a deeper understanding of the topic and has a high level of reflection. There are less hierarchies and more equal participation in online classes. On the other hand, traditional class are less likely to cover as much detail, is possible to avoid participation, and have little time to reflect upon ideas.
Online classes have as high as 80% drop rate compared to the 10-20% drop rate in traditional classes. In a study conducted by Thirunarayanan and Perez-Prad, they found that the online class scored slightly higher than the traditional class, however the difference was not statistically significant. Other studies show that students who do well in school in general can do just as well taking any type of class.
However there is also one factor that may determine which type of class will get you the better grade. Many online courses have quizzes done online. This may mean that it is easier for an online student to cheat compared to a traditional class setting, therefore online students get higher grades. According to Table 3 from Comparing the Effectiveness of Classroom and Online Learning, online students have a higher rate of failure. 10% of students failed in online classes, while only 4% did in traditional class.
In conclusion, there are pros and cons for both online and traditional class settings. From the studies, neither of the classes will give you any grade advantage over the other. However online classes does provide more equal and less intimidating interaction. Furthermore, online classes may be harder because there is a higher rate of failure. In the end it is up to you to choose which type of class is better for you. For me, I think I should have taken the online course for ACCTG instead.