The question of online school versus traditional learning is now open for discussion amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Or has it already been?
Growing statistics have proven that online learning is on an upward trend.
While there are factors that are contributing to this growth pattern, Marc Booker, associate provost for the University of Phoenix, says that while online learning has its ways from being flexible and not being a total stranger, traditional greek learning is also beneficial in other ways compared to online such as hands-on experience, developing social skills and peer relationship development.
The University of Phoenix has been known for advertising its online education throughout the years.
“With online asynchronous learning, students may be able to have more agency over their identity and how they present themselves in the classroom, while not being completely anonymous,” Booker said.
Online learning could also limit any excessive behavior or disputes between a student and a teacher or another student.
“Additionally, because online learning often creates a record of interactions between students and faculty, participants may be less likely to engage in aggressive or offensive behavior as a record is kept, which limits the concept of my word vs. your word scenarios,” Booker said.
While traditional classrooms are still the way to go in America as of today, students should ask if they really want this opportunity for their own personal benefit to help them perform well in the classroom.
It also depends on an institution's faculty and administration to know if a student is comfortable with the system, whether it’d be online or face-to-face.
“It is better to look at how online schooling presents itself as a better option for individuals that have a learning preference and specific needs that align with its unique benefits,” Booker said.
Booker says that while online learning has already become a known tool in our society, we shouldn’t lose track of the default and classic physical learning.
Online teachers and administrators should also have a goal for what specific community they’re serving. Booker says that online education should be used in broader populations.
“I believe that online learning has already become a staple in the education landscape, and is a widely accepted avenue for teaching and learning,” Booker said. “I think it is essential as we don’t think of one design as more normal than the other, but rather what design is most appropriate for the situation.”
In 2018, it was recorded that 6 million Americans were pursuing an online education with figures showing over a quarter of students taking an online class. A higher impact is more online courses for universities to offer.
The average online student is also 32 years old. This shows the flexibility for adults to take a class whenever they may choose whether the student is pursuing a master’s degree or their bachelor’s degree.
However, this system does have critics. Henry M. Levin, a professor at Columbia University, criticizes the University of Phoenix model, calling a business degree from the online institution an “MBA lite.” He criticized its course materials from his point of view.
Booker said that students choosing to meet their own personal needs while also being full-time students would be best suited for being an online learner.
“For those that want and/or need an experience that allows them to be more than a full-time residential student as their primary role and focus I would recommend online schooling as a beneficial way to meet their educational needs while pursuing other interests in life,” Booker said.