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Distance Learning vs. Onsite Education

The number of students opting for online education is growing at a tremendous pace. The Sloan Survey of Online Learning, in its report for 2008, shows a growth of 12 percent in online application. In the fall semester of 2007, almost 3.94 million students had enrolled for some time of online course, according to this report. This popularity of online education has also prompted reputed universities to start online courses in post secondary education. Let us now look at some of the common advantages and disadvantages of distance learning and campus education.

How do you decide between Online and Campus Education?
Generally when you consider education, some basic factors determine your choice between campus education and online education. If you are faced with long commuting hours, then you might prefer an online degree. Colleges create online degrees to improve student access to a course. Your choice of an online college will also depend on the type of learner that you are. If you are someone who benefits from visual learning, can think independently, do not need constant teacher monitoring, and can work and learn on your own without peer support, then online learning is for you. The type of course that you want to select is also another important factor. Not all courses work well in the online medium. Some courses such as those in information technology, healthcare management, and business do not need physical lab work. If you are going in for education in any of these core sectors, then online education is a good option. In this article Why Online Schools are Booming you will find additional information regarding trends and an explanation into the increasing popularity of distance learning.

Advantages of Online Education
The most important advantage of online learning, particularly from the perspective of the working student or for adult learners going back to college, is the asynchronized methodology, which allows you to take your classes at your convenience. The fact that you can schedule your learning around your personal and professional commitments, make it an extremely attractive proposition. Also adult learners sometimes have problems settling in a traditional classroom, keeping up with peer pressure, and generally get intimidated by the large physical setting of the classroom. Besides these, one of the most obvious advantages of online learning is that you spend less in terms of money and time, as there is no commuting involved. With online learning you can also take up courses available at colleges away from your home.

Disadvantages of Online Education
The system also has inherent problems. You need to have basic computer and Internet knowledge to take full advantage of distance learning, as it will involve downloading study material, video conferencing, and other such processes. Also important is to own or have access to a computer with Internet connection. One of the major weaknesses of the system is that it does not allow instant feedback. So, both the instructor and student have to cope with time gaps that sometimes become a barrier. When you are going in for online education, it is usually with the aim of bettering your career. Though most employers today view online degrees at par with traditional ones, there are still some who do not. Certain courses, particularly that requiring laboratory work, are not suited to the distance mode of education.

Campus Education Pros and Cons
Many American teenagers consider study effort, good academic results, and generally anything to do with education and career as 'not quite cool'. The peer pressure is so huge that some who would like to do well in school and pursue college are afraid of being laughed at. Online education is a way out for such students to pursue their courses from the confines of their homes. Apart from this social aberration, traditional schools are still the most common method of learning, particularly from the perspective of high school students continuing with post secondary studies without any break.

A New Blend
A new system that blends the best features of both online and campus education is coming into vogue. Check out WorldWideLearn.com to find more information on this. Traditional colleges and universities are now offering this form of education.

Which one do you choose?
Choose the model that suits your purpose. There is no style that is perfect for one and all. Teaching styles will go on adapting to student needs. However, if you are a working adult then an online education is the most suitable. Educational institutions are aiming to deliver education that is best suited and convenient to you keeping in mind quality training that will equip you to meet the working needs of corporations and business houses.

Some Quick References

Other sites that will give you additional information:

Hybrid Education
Online vs. Campus
Sloan-c.org

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