Over the past decade, researchers have demonstrated that technology can be a useful and effective tool to administer education. Although, nothing can take the place of the teacher in terms of developing students' education, online education is making their way into classrooms and homes now. The teachers are not the only ones who can open the door to education for students whereas the computer plays an additional role in helping student's education technologically as a useful tool. Although you can't get the direct interaction; online learning provides convenient learning. (Shoeman-Jones 2009) With the economic conditions changing people are opting to go online. More people are working and going to school which will make them competitive and give the working man options about his education. However, online learning can be effective for students if it's used wisely. The main focus of online is convenience but it can also be an alternative to get outside beyond the walls and connect to society rather than sitting in a classroom. Computers are used for just about everything but can it really replace the classroom? In fact, education and technology, if we understand it in its broadest sense, is changing everyday in every way. Therefore students have several different options that can best suit their needs. Researchers agree that Technology is so advanced and sophisticated but can it really take the place of the teacher who can motivate, organize and manage the whole class by creating the pleasant aura of active teaching and learning process, but many have drawn quite different conclusions in addressing the following questions:
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1. What are the advantages of a classroom setting?
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2. What are the disadvantages of a classroom setting?
3. Can Online Education be just as effective as the classroom?
4. What are the implications of Online Learning?
This review of Teacher Vs Online focuses on these four questions.
What are the Advantages of a Classroom Setting?
In an influential article, Neobrain, Wright, and Cleaver (2009) argued that everyone need a person who can both understand their needs, their weak points and strong points and also know the most effective and suitable methods for the students to make them realize themselves what they are going to do is right or wrong. For the students in the classroom, computers are amazingly useful machines that, in almost no time, can perform sophisticated operations and solve difficult questions, which even the teacher, let alone students, cannot do. With that said the teacher can know who is following his teaching and who is not and give relevant examples during his teaching to keep the class interested in the subject he is explaining. Another advantage of classroom learning is that the teacher can give students the real essence of education by nourishing students' hearts and opening students' minds during the classroom teaching. Also, students have the advantage of having face-to-face interaction with the teacher which enhances their classroom experience. (Wonacott 2002) Teachers feel that they can assess their students better through weekly interaction in the classroom. In classrooms with a smaller teacher-to-student ratio, students can even get more direct assistance. Because there is real time interaction and students and their instructor speak instead of typing, more ground can be covered in less time. An instructor or student can point to a page in their text. The instructor can write
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information down on a white board. Students can discuss information with each other, and because they are speaking in person, there is less chance that one of them will be misunderstood.
One thing that is affected by the Online Learning is the social interaction. (Anderson 2007) Social Interaction is important because traditional classroom teaching also provides students with the opportunity to have real social interaction with one another. This interaction in turn allows for the students to help one another in terms of academics or in terms of personal issues. "Good learning...is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated" (Fulford, 6). When students sit in chairs next to each other they learn from each other's mistakes and learn social interaction skills. Also, traditional schools offer sports, recreation, student clubs and organizations, and other activities that allow you to form friendships and social networks. Good social interaction is a key part of living well. Study after study shows that good friendships, family relationships and health as the most important things to have in order to be happy and fulfilled. In this sense, again the computer's performance is nothing compared to the traditional classroom.
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What are the Disadvantages of a classroom setting?
In a traditional classroom environment, there are usually anywhere from twenty to thirty children and one teacher. In some cases, that teacher might have a "teacher's aid" or an assistant teacher. This is where the disadvantage starts- it is simply impossible for one person to give each student the one-on-one attention or instruction that may be required. In a classroom of twenty to
thirty students, there are going to be several students with differing learning styles and academic strengths and weaknesses. (Alavi & Gallupe 2003)
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Which brings to light the next disadvantage of a traditional classroom. In a traditional classroom environment, it's not uncommon for students to become bored or frustrated. Some students learn better by visual means, others will learn better with auditory means, and still others are going to learn better with a hands-on approach.
It is virtually impossible for a single teacher to accommodate all methods of learning when he or she is responsible for teaching a large number of students. Thus, children who do not fall into the "traditional learning method" category are far more likely to "fall through the cracks," become bored or discouraged, or to display behavior problems in the classroom. (Shoeman-Jones 2009)
The traditional classroom environment works well for a large number of students, but there are many others who simply have difficulty learning in this environment, have difficulty interacting with peers, or who require more one-on-one attention and time to grasp certain concepts. In traditional classrooms, lecture is the main form of learning. One characteristic of traditional learning is: The student is forced to be in the same time day in and day out. With the economic changes we are facing in today's age and tuition cost rising, students are working. The career fields are more competitive and people are not alone seeking employees with an education but also experience. So with that said, students are seeking alternative options for acquiring an education so they can remain competitive in today's job market. Sitting in a classroom is not an ideal setting for some students. Being able to pace and not have strict time constraints on
assignments can be beneficial. Some students have odd working hours and don't have the time to get to class on time and that can cause stress mentally and physically. Also, students have
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finally found themselves able to help themselves and get self-educated even long after finishing the class. (Shoeman-Jones 2009) Perhaps this may be the most significant fact that makes the difference between the teacher and the machine. You can cover more material and ground at your own pace and complete the class early. On the other hand, Classroom learning does have its disadvantage especially competing with convenience.
Can online education be just as effective as the classroom?
With so many advancements with the internet you have many options for online learning. From websites that exists to help elementary students prepare for statewide tests, to middle and high schools having the opportunity to take classes online and complete make up work. The internet has certainly made learning convenient and a much simpler process. Giving student's flexibility in learning may push someone that may otherwise decide not to finish high school or even enroll in college into completing to a different decision. Also most students work either full or part time therefore having the option to take classes online is a great advantage for them. "Education is now one of the many opportunities available for consumers on the Internet. The online student population is expanding by 30 percent a year, with over 75 percent of traditional colleges and universities getting into the market, according to experts. With the Internet, distance degrees have become a viable and valuable option for the individual who may not be able to enroll full-time in a traditional brick-and-mortar institution." (Neal) What is online education? Who can take online classes? Is an online degree the same as a degree from a college that you
take on campus? These are some questions that you may want to know the answers to before deciding to enroll in online classes. According to, www.blackboard.com online education can be
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defined as an approach to teaching and learning that utilizes Internet technologies to communicate and collaborate in an educational context. This includes technology that supplements traditional classroom training with web-based components and learning environments where the educational process is experienced online. Anyone with access to the internet can take classes online. Whether you obtained your degree online or on a campus your degree is treated the same as long as the institution is accredited. Colleges offering online or blended classes have online learning tools that you take your classes at and participate in discussions. At Florida State Community College they use a platform called Blackboard. On Blackboard you can also view your grades and email other classmates, teachers also use this site to post messages to the students. You can also take exams and quizzes on blackboard. Unless there is scheduled maintenance Blackboard is accessible twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. This is convenient for the students, and makes life much easier. "Since September 11, 2001, the number of overseas inquires about online learning has jumped 40 percent." (Neal)
There are many advantages and disadvantages that students take into consideration before enrolling in online classes. One of the best advantages to online classes is flexibility. Online classes do not require you to commute. In some cases, students travel from more than one campus. Most students like that they can make their own schedule, choosing to take your classes during the day or even in the middle of the night. When taking online classes you don't have to sacrifice a lot of your free time, especially when you can do work any time day or night.
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Students really don't have to leave the comfort of their own home, not to mention time saved on traveling to class and the amount of money saved on gas. You don't have to worry about what you're going to wear to school. Some students dread participating in class, they may not be scared to speak to others but sometimes having all eyes on you may make your uncomfortable. Participating with online discussion gives you a voice that may have otherwise have never been heard. Moving away from shyness and also giving you a better participation grade. If you're not a good note taker, don't worry, most of the lectures are already written out for you and you can go back and look at it anytime that you would like. If you have small children you can care for them and take your classes without having to send them off to daycare. We've seen the commercials on television all the time, mostly of students in their pajamas and imagine that it could be us. Not having to go into a classroom and listen to a long lecture that you may think is so boring can otherwise be seen online and you don't have to worry about dosing off. Some students may have otherwise recorded the lectures in order to listen to again at a later time, now they can go back to it on the schools learning tool. Being able to complete assignments at home without any distractions from other classmates is also an advantage, especially for those who have a short attention span. Another advantage of online learning is the accessibility of learning materials. No matter your program of study you will more than likely able to find classes pertaining to your degree. Being able to control the timeframe in which you obtain your degree is another advantage, most colleges offer accelerated degree programs. Even though you may be earning your degree faster than most does not mean the task will not be difficult, you have to be dedicated in obtaining your degree or you may fail. You can also work on more the one degree
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program at a time. Make sure that you have a laptop so that anytime you have free time you can pick it up and get to work. Another advantage is that in some online classes most tests and quizzes are given online giving you the opportunity to use your textbooks. Even if the tests are timed you are more likely to score higher if you have the information in front of you to pass the test or quiz. If you have good time management skills and do not find yourself procrastinating often then online learning may be a good option for you.
What are the disadvantages of Online Learning?
There are many disadvantages as well to online learning. One disadvantage that students complain about is face to face interaction with other students and the teachers. One of the most common disadvantages that students have is the lack of supervision which leads to procrastination. Some students need constant motivation from teachers and students in order to succeed, so if you are not able to work on your own you shouldn't consider online classes. Even though you can wake up in the middle of the night to complete a paper at the last minute you find yourself doing it more often due to the lack of supervision. Usually students with poor study habits fail at online learning. Self-Pace is a lot of hard work and dedication. Usually online classes require you to read more and complete more assignments versus traditional classroom whereas you would take notes. Another disadvantage is that most online classes usually cost more than the classes taken on campus. With the rising cost of tuition and books, online fees are not far behind and doubling every year. Be sure to check with your college of choice when making this decision. Even though you may be saving with travel expenses you need to make sure that you are not paying so much more for your classes that saving on the traveling is not a
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big difference. If you're only reason to take online classes is to save money on traveling you may want to check on the cost of your online course first before making your decision. You also have to be very computer savvy or succeeding with an online course will be nearly impossible for students. With most online courses you are on the internet most of the time so you may want to make sure you are very familiar with the internet before starting an online class. To develop your computer skills to take online classes, you can take a computer course on most college campuses, and this should be done before signing up for online classes if you think you need better computer skills. Some online credits may also not be transferable so you may want to make sure that you check with your advisor before trying to transfer any credits. Not every school in the nation has migrated to virtual world completely. Make sure that you also that you find a fully accredited program.
Taking the advantages and disadvantages into consideration will make your decision easier when considering your education. Whatever path you decide to go be sure to weigh all of your options, and do what is best for you and not what others may think is best for you. We all have different learning styles so what may be the best option for me may not be the best option for you. Many have earned their degrees online or through blended classes and their degrees is just as good as the person who earned it in a traditional classroom environment. Just be very careful in choosing am program that is accredited or the classes you've taken could not only be a waste of time but also money. When it comes to education, there simply is no "one size fits all" answer. The teacher has got a unique human brain that can perform teaching in a way that the
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computer, a mere artificial brain, cannot do. Well when it comes down to it, traditional classroom will always win, you cannot put value on the long time study of a profession that's proven to be effective but if you're willing to step outside box consider taking at least one class online, just to see if it's right for you. Remember you have to fail sometimes in order to succeed.
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