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Ninety-three percent of communication is non-verbal; which is picked up through visible body language and tone of voice (qtd. Yaffe, 2011). For this reason, a whole lecture point or classmate conversation may be misinterpreted over the internet. Colleges and universities are leaning more towards online learning to invite more students, but are they unintentionally doing a disservice by offering complete degree programs online? Opportunely traditional educators have adapted their teaching styles to these changing times—allowing students to participate in online activities and discussions while still attending a traditional lecture. These developments in traditional learning environments are a stride in the right direction. Incorporating online strategies within the classroom will expand on the student’s higher-level of critical thinking and enable them to achieve optimum self-development; resulting in a sharpened society.
An educational journey will challenge the mind and open doors for students. The educational system is designed for students to become well-rounded individuals—the best version of themselves. College is a time for growth through lessons, and students expect these challenges. Instructors have uncertainties about online learning—especially now that degree programs can be completely done online. Instantly, it is possible to take any course needed to complete a degree program. Unfortunately, more opportunities are missed rather than gained when solely learning online.
Web-based courses are becoming more attractive for college students because it is more accommodating to earn a full degree on their own time. Students can fit classes into their daily lives and log-off with a degree. Toufaily, a teacher in marketing research, business research, and quantitative data analysis constructs a research project, “What Do Learners Value in Online Education?” She uses strategies from credible researchers to ensure that her work accurately results in evidence of the “gets” and “gives” of both online and traditional education.
“Results show that two main components. . .[of] student’s value when deciding to enroll in online courses are convenience and flexibility” (Toufaily, 2018). Yet, colleges and universities offer night classes as well as hybrid classes in order to help accommodate those that have busy lives. A hybrid class is set up with a shorter traditional lecture and picks up through online learning. Adding online strategies to the firm foundation of traditional lecture have shown to bring about growth in colleges, students, and the instructors. Colleges can welcome more students and instructors are discovering new methods of teaching to get their lessons across to the students in the most effective way; which results in a better understanding for the students.
Furthermore, completing education exclusively online takes away from the traditional learning atmosphere by disengaging students from professor and peer interactions, social development, and real-life experiences and practices. College is the place to learn course objectives, but it is also where social development and real-life experiences take place. Important trade-offs are made when making the decision to earn a degree online. Higher level education already takes away from social activities outside of school because of the increase work load—on top of daily commitments. As described by researcher, Toufaily, students had feelings of isolation and spoke about limited interaction with their peers in online classes, “. . .belonging (i.e., loss of interaction and human contact) and personal (i.e., self-determination and isolation) sacrifices seemed more consequential at this stage. . .” (Toufaily, 2018). It is clearly observed within this research that human interaction cannot be replicated in an online learning environment.
Additionally, web-based learning takes away from the full benefits of learning, which dwindles the full potential of the student. Melissa A. Broeckelman-Post the “Introductory Communication Course Director, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and a Senior Scholar in the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University,” and author of, “Online versus Face-to-Face Public Speaking Outcomes: A Comprehensive Assessment,” studies the differences between an online and face to face course in Public Speaking. As observed, public speaking classes should include: “public speaking performance, course performance, public speaking anxiety reduction, enhanced communication competence, and student engagement” (Broeckelaman, 2019).
This research brings forth evidence that students in an online public speaking class demonstrated a reduced level of anxiety in their presentations. “The technology might explain the observed differences in online courses, which permits students to correct mistakes and re-record a presentation before submitting it. . .” (Broecklman, 2019). These students can avoid their anxiety by participating in the comfort of their home. However, it takes facing challenges and reflecting on experiences to flourish.
Although, Broeckelman’s study supports success in online courses as closely equal to traditional courses, depth of learning is not based off success in a course; learning is more about the process of attaining that knowledge. Not only are the students losing the ability to interact with other classmates and their instructor, but they are losing quality in their learning.
According to the cognitive research covered in How People Learn, environments that best promote learning have four interdependent aspects—they focus on learners, well-organized knowledge, ongoing assessment for understanding, and community support and challenge. (Mcdaniel, 2018).
Getting the best foundation of knowledge will transcend critical thinking skills beyond college. It is the most important skill a focused student will gain in their college career and influence their desire to continue learning after college.
In Bloom’s Taxonomy system, it breaks down learning into six different categories; remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Educators already use this to “design classroom activities and out-of-class assignments” (Gardner 236). Utilizing this model more effectively in an educational setting will allow for growth in critical thinking skills. “Having these skills will help [students] become a competent and confident individual who is capable of contributing to the larger society by helping solve community and national problems” (Gardner 226).
Academic fields of studies continue to grow as more information and theories are created. “Programs have achieved this increased exposure to content with relatively little change in time to degree completion. . .” (Murray, 2014). For example, in a physical therapy class that calls for practicing learned material. Murray expresses within her research, that it is difficult to fit all this material students need to learn in such little class time. She presents a study on the effectiveness of a flipped classroom approach. A flipped classroom is where instructors can utilize different techniques in their teaching styles by influencing more independent learning outside of class. The results showed that student’s “[p]erformance was approximately 4-5 points higher in all categories when utilizing online learning prior to the onsite class and did not harm the students academically” (Murray, 2014).
It is difficult to replicate courses and interactions to their utmost potential in a solely online setting. A flipped classroom is a stride in the right direction because students will get the best of both learning practices. It is crucial to have detailed structure when mixing methods to effectively engage the students. This will allow students to gain control over their schedules while receiving all that college has to offer. In the benefit of future career endeavors, students do not disregard their social development in a flipped classroom. Traditional class time can be used to expand on a higher-level of learning—analyzing, evaluating, and creating—resulting in an even more innovative society.
- Broeckelman-Post, Melissa A.; Hyatt Hawkins, Katherine E.; Arciero, Anthony R.; and Malterud, Andie S. (2019) “Online versus Face-to-Face Public Speaking Outcomes: A Comprehensive Assessment,” Basic Communication Course Annual: Vol. 31, Article 10.
- Broeckelman-Post, Melissa A. “Melissa A. Broeckelman-Post.” Communication: College of Humanities and Social Sciences, George Mason University, 2019.
- Gardner, John N., et al. Understanding Your College Experience: Strategies for Success. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.
- Mcdaniel, Rhett, and John D. Bransford. “How People Learn.” Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt University, 7 May 2018.
- Murray, Leigh, et al. “Flipping the Classroom Experience: A Comparison of Online Learning to Traditional Lecture.” Journal of Physical Therapy Education (American Physical Therapy Association, Education Section), vol. 28, no. 3, Sept. 2014, pp. 35–41. EBSCOhost.
- Toufaily, Elissar, et al. “What Do Learners Value in Online Education? An Emerging Market Perspective.” E-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship of Teaching, vol. 12, no. 2, Sept. 2018, pp. 24–39. EBSCOhost.
- Yaffe, Philip. “Ubiquity: The 7% Rule.” Acm, 2011.
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