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Traditional vs virtual

Time and again, a narrative comes up that predicts the end of traditional college degrees. This became more common in the last decade with the entry of massive open online courses. While online courses have become a force to reckon with, the value of the traditional degree is still as strong as ever.

Should we really compare the two and predict the success of one at the cost of the failure of another? Shouldn’t a comparison be done between two similar objects? This then takes us to the core question: are traditional degrees and online courses competitors or can they complement each other?

A comparison

Traditional classrooms have an advantage when it comes to discipline and motivation. The structured schedule of attending classes and routine face-to-face interactions with instructors helps students develop social skills, discipline and routine. In contrast, an online classroom allows you a flexible schedule as one can study from anywhere.

While an instructor in a traditional classroom can act as your mentor and guide, social interaction in online courses is mainly through discussion boards or video chat. Another crucial difference is the cost with online courses being cheaper than traditional courses.

Individual choices

For a working professional, an online course provides much-needed flexibility. They would like to increase their qualifications to enhance career opportunities but may not find the time to attend regular classes. So, an online class may be more convenient, as it saves time, money, and energy.

Many students studying in traditional classrooms also enrol in online courses to complement their degree. In fact, in many institutes, online courses are a part of the curriculum. If a good course is available online, institutes encourage students to enrol for the same.

One pedagogy that can be used is the flipped classroom or blended learning. Online content can be used for passive learning, which can then be discussed in the classroom to make the interaction more active and engaging. This helps the student understand and grasp difficult topics and, at the same time, clear their concepts with the faculty.

The debate should not be about which is better, as both have their plus and minus points. This debate needs to be seen against a bigger picture of how both can complement each other so that the biggest gainer is the student.

The writer is Director, Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies, Pune

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 11:45:27 AM |

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