Is Online Education Just as Legitimate as Traditional Education? Why or Why not?
This paper strongly supports the claim that online education is not as legitimate as traditional education. It makes use of three arguments which explain the superiority of traditional education over online education. In the first argument, the lack of a physical class-room environment is discussed. In the second argument, lack of motivation and its impact on students’ outcome is discussed while the last argument highlights the technological issues associated with online courses. The paper supports the presented claims with adequate data and therefore develops a strong recommendation for traditional education as compared to online education.
Is Online Education Just as Legitimate as Traditional Education?
Over the past few years, online education has gained worldwide popularity. At the same time traditional education has maintained its norms and continues to enlighten students at all levels. There are several arguments and studies that discuss the legitimacy of online education in comparison to traditional education. This debate holds importance for students and teachers at large. The argument becomes even more serious when an aspiring young individual ventures out in the real world to make future decisions of his life. In today’s world, if one makes the right choice, success comes easy. In order to reap the fruits of true success in the future, this ‘right choice’ must be made. For this purpose, the paper will build three arguments, which will prove that online education is not just as legitimate as traditional education.
Online education is not just as legitimate as traditional education because it does not provide a class-room environment to students where they can learn from each other. There is always more learning and interaction when students form a group and exchange ideas with the instructor and among themselves. As opposed to traditional education, online education fails to bridge the gap between the teacher and the student. For college entrants and second year students, it is essential to understand core concepts which only get cleared if they are discussed with the teacher and fellow students. The study by Anstine and Skidmore (2005) based on online M.B.A. students, indicated that the learning output from an online classroom environment were 6.5 percentage points lower than the traditional classroom environment scenario. It was also noted that on average, online students scored 5 percentage points lower in comparison to traditional students in various class tests. Thus it can be noted that absence of face-to-face communication and non verbal cues does have an effect on student learning and scores from a certain course.
The second reason why online education is inferior to traditional education is the lack of motivation that develops in students taking online courses. Since there is no direct supervision from the instructor, the students will not hand in their assignments on time, procrastinate, cheat and eventually lose interest in the course. According to Kock, Verville and Garza (2007), strong differences in terms of cognitive effort and ambiguity, especially during the first half of the course do exist in students who take online courses, as compared to students of the traditional education. The excitement to learn from new lectures dies out for the student during the start of course when they face ambiguity due to the physical absence of a teacher. The idea of reaching targets, time management and experiencing the long term benefits of education can only be inculcated in one’s mind if constant reinforcement is being done. For that, the physical presence of a mentor is necessary to verbally communicate the message to a student, who will then be motivated to take time out for his studies.
Lack of supervision also gives students greater chances of cheating. The student is only left with the aim of passing the course with no aim of learning anything. Learning is not just about the course itself but all those factors that will develop other useful skills in him. Teachers are often role models for students and that only happens when they are physically present to motivate them, rather than acting as computer software that produces the desired output at a click.
The third reason which makes traditional education better than online education is the ease of access and learning of courses. Traditional education is easier to learn as it does not require the students to learn difficult software for their courses. The courses that require the use of technology are well aided by computer labs and supporting instructors in university campuses. However, with the case of online courses, on campus facility to learn technology is not present. In fact, many online courses require the students to learn additional technology in order to learn their coursework. This not only increases the work burden on the student but also has financial costs involved.
In discussing the various costs associated with learning, Lei and Gupta (2009) highlighted that “both faculty and students may also experience incompatible technology issues and frustration largely due to technological differences (e.g. different software versions) at home and school.” Therefore, online courses are time consuming to handle and students might be required to learn complex software in the face of already existing work burden. This can even have severe negative effects on learning if the student is feeling deprived of teacher supervision and physical presence already.
While traditional education always fosters greater learning and interaction, online education can be encouraged for those who wish to seek convenience in the face of their endless problems. Online education may serve as a panacea for those who don’t have access to traditional education but for the larger world, only an established mode of education will provide them with a true experience of learning. The feel of attending college and physical interaction can never replace non-physical mode of communication and education. Traditional education is not always about academic learning but a complete lifestyle experience in itself. Teachers play the role of motivators and role models while fellow classmates add on to learning in a number of ways. Therefore, traditional education not only churns out students but rather personalities in the long-run.
Anstine, J., Skidmore, M. (2005). A small sample study of traditional and online courses with
sample selection adjustment. Journal of Economic Education, 108-128.
Kock, N., Verville, J., & Garza, V. (2007). Media naturalness and online learning: Finding
support both the significant and no-significant-different perspectives. Decision Sciences
Lei, S.A., Gupta, K. R. (2009). College distance education courses: Evaluating benefits and costs