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Opposing Viewpoints About Online Learning

by Neil Kokemuller, studioD

Online education has become increasingly prominent as more students, and subsequently more colleges, have recognized the opportunities available through Web-learning platforms. Despite growth in online classes, detractors of online education point to deficiencies in learning experiences and student development relative to traditional classrooms. You must understand the pros and cons of eLearning to determine if it fits your learning style and goals.


A key driver of online learning is the flexibility it offers. Whereas traditional classes are scheduled at certain times on certain days, online classrooms offer you flexibility to complete reading and work as they fit your schedule. This is advantageous if you balance school with work, family and personal life. If you have greater ability to concentrate in the morning or night, you can set aside those times to do your schoolwork. Additionally, by avoiding commutes to and from campus, you save time and money. The flexibility of online learning has enabled people to take classes who couldn't previously due to limitations of the classroom.

Learning Environment

The learning environment for online classes is quite distinct from traditional courses. Rather than meeting regularly in class with an instructor and other students, your work is completed virtually through online portals and web-based tools. Proponents of technology education note that this increases the breadth of your learning experience because you gain technology experience along with course content knowledge. Class discussions through virtual tools simulate workplace virtual teams. If you are easily distracted, a traditional classroom may be a more challenging environment with other students, noises and things going on around you. At home or in another quiet place, you can manage your learning space.


A common criticism of the eLearning experience is that it lacks the face-to-face interaction of the traditional classroom. Students in conventional classes learn interpersonal, small group and often presentation skills along with course content. In the online classroom, it is often more difficult to build relationships with instructors and rapport with other students. This can minimize the influence of peer support, which many students find helpful in a traditional class setting.


Your level of self-discipline greatly impacts your success with Internet education. A February 2013 article in "The New York Times" noted that attrition rates in studies of large online classes at Stanford University are as high as 90 percent. Students sometimes falsely assume that online courses have fewer demands and work requirements. This is usually not the case. Students who struggle with motivation in traditional classes often struggle more online where self-discipline is necessary to complete assignments, class discussions, projects and tests on time and thoroughly.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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