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Is Online Learning as Effective as the Classroom?

There’s been a debate raging for as long as the internet has been around regarding online learning. Is online learning as effective as learning in a classroom setting? Numerous web-based universities exist and students earn degrees from them every semester.

But the question remains: is the quality of education you get from an online course the same as what you’d get from a proper classroom? Let’s take a closer look.

What Type of Learner are You?

In large part, how you respond to different class styles depends a lot on what type of learner you are. Some people simply learn better in a group setting, with direct access to their instructor and paper materials in front of them.

On the contrary, some students prefer to learn via online class settings. The lack of a proper room, not being in the same physical space with classmates and having a more free-form approach to the “classroom” is beneficial for some students.

Efficacy versus Ease of Access

One of the strongest marks in favor of online learning is the ease with which anyone can sign up for an online class. People who work during the day might find it easier to tackle night courses online. Those who live in remote regions who want to seek higher education need not move hundreds of miles away, as they can instead tackle coursework with their browser.

However, there have been some questions raised about the quality of education found online. Some online universities have been labeled “degree factories,” essentially handing out degrees if students just pay in enough money. These types of institutions have put a black mark on the whole endeavor, though they’re the exception, not the rule.

Expert Opinions

In general, experts agree that engaged students with high motivation do just as well with online courses as they do with in-person coursework. However, those with less personal discipline tend to underperform more with online courses due to their more free-form nature. For some people, online courses feel less “real” than in-person ones.

Alternatively, some students show an aptitude for learning in a digital space that they lack in brick-and-mortar classrooms. Rather than encouraging them to slack off, the free-form nature of the classes encourages them to learn at their own pace and excel on their own initiative. Which one works best is on you and your learning style, though, in truth, there’s no wrong answer.