Can Online Classes Ever Replace Traditional Classrooms
Guest Author: Beatrice Campbell
About the Author
Beatrice Campbell is a school administrator and part-time teacher with a passion for technology and the different ways it can help improve learning outcomes among the world's children. Though online education is relatively new, Campbell envisions a future where it can make education more accessible for students across the globe.
As technology continues to improve life, the world of education is also benefitting. In particular, online learning is seeing a significant rise in popularity. An article published by Maryville University focusing on online learning versus traditional courses notes that the percentage of students taking at least one online course has hit an all-time high of 33.5%. It's not a surprising number, considering that the edtech industry is providing so many benefits for it — from affordability and flexibility to innovation and accessibility. With this in mind, it certainly wouldn’t be out of the realms of possibility if online classes eventually replace traditional classrooms. Let's look at some key variables:
Perhaps the biggest selling point of online courses is that they allow students to learn without ever having to leave their home. For non-US residents specifically, the US Journal of Academics explains that this feature of online learning helps students for whom global-standard education was previously unavailable. It is also ideal for working students trying to strike a balance between work, academics, and family. Students are able to build their school schedule around their personal lives, not the other way around.
Building new experiences
Tools like VR and AR immerse students in places a school bus can't go. As discussed here on Strategic EdTech, these have the potential to expand the classroom, so students can explore the depths of the Marianas Trench or Mars' uncharted terrains on a Monday afternoon.
While computers have become basic learning tools for most ages, online education still requires one to be digitally literate. Though remote learning has made education more accessible, one has to take into consideration that not everyone can afford computers or a good internet connection. Additionally, for students who belong to older age demographics — particularly senior citizens — the learning curve can be challenging.
Although discussion groups and forums make online education a "social" activity, they still cannot replace good, organic human conversation. Faculty Focus claims that teachers and students can feel isolated when taking online courses. Attending a physical class exposes students to practical skills that cannot be picked up via online programs such as better communication, public relations, listening skills, and much more.
Online learning entails students to use the equipment they have at home, without having to purchase school supplies or use a library with limited resources other students also need. It also cuts back on costs, eliminating the need to spend on lodgings, transportation, and more.
Ultimately, both online classes and traditional classrooms have their own advantages — something that institutions today can take advantage of in various ways. Today's educators, innovators, and regulators should carefully assess each side of the argument to strike a balance and nurture learning across all levels. Although online classes are nowhere close to replacing traditional classrooms, it's important to harness its strengths in areas like providing convenience and efficiency to better address the needs of today's learners and future leaders.
As teachers, you should find that middle ground that combines the best of traditional and technological learning seamlessly. The path to learning isn't linear and will involve many detours — so the best way forward is to pay attention to your students and which methods they best respond to best, whether it's making use of cutting-edge LCD screens or a good old sit-down session. Don't be afraid to go off the beaten path and acquaint yourselves with new technology meant to enhance the educational experience.
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