Are Online Classes Better Than On Campus Classes?

Online learning was growing in popularity even before the pandemic. The first online degree was offered in the 80s, but programs were limited by technology. Today, we can deliver the same high-quality education digitally or in person, opening doors for students who need a cyber option. There are pros and cons to each approach, but both are equally credible because of advances in digital learning platforms.

Are Online Classes Better Than On-Campus Classes?

On-campus and online education have finally reached an equilibrium, the sweet spot where even detractors concede that virtual learning has advantages. The content quality is the same, so employers no longer view an online degree as inferior. As a student, the type of program you take should reflect your lifestyle and learning needs. The benefits of online learning include:

No Commuting

Students spend an average of 45 minutes per day commuting to and from on-campus classes. Whether you’re using public transportation or a personal vehicle, it costs time and money.

If you live in a rural area, commutes are even longer. The price of fuel, tolls and car repairs can equal thousands in the time it takes to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Learning from home allows you to save for living expenses and other personal goals. Education shouldn’t be a money trap.

Flexible Scheduling

Online courses are delivered in two ways, synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous classes operate on a schedule. Students and instructors meet on an online platform at a designated time. The most significant advantage of synchronous classes is that they provide meaningful, face-to-face interactions.

You’ll see fellow students and professors through video conferencing software, like Zoom. The learning process is as collaborative as it is in a classroom. Immediate feedback from peers helps build group relationships. Savvy instructors are using online education to improve the quality of education by teaching more in less time, prerecording lectures so that live meetings can be devoted to real-time question-and-answer.

Asynchronous classes are always available. Students can access course material 24/7 with a password. A bonus for students who can’t attend traditional classes because of family and work responsibilities, you can download lectures and reading materials on your time.

A Student-Centered Learning Experience

Part of the goal of a college education is to make students more comfortable engaging with others. But not all people are cut from the same cloth. Some are less comfortable than others in formal learning environments, too anxious or timid to share ideas.

Online learning gives those who need more personal space the opportunity to interact with peers from a more secure distance. One step at a time, it can ease the social anxiety that holds too many students back.

Virtual courses also cater to students’ circadian rhythm. Night owls know how tough it is to be on an early bird’s schedule. People who are more alert at some times of day than others can take classes when they feel awake and refreshed.

Easy Content Accessibility

On-campus students attend lectures with digital recorders so they can reference material at a later date. Online learners have a wealth of resources available with the click of a mouse, including lessons and supporting textbook material. Students struggling with a certain subject can reference specific parts of lectures by timestamp to save time.

Better Instructor Availability

There are too few hours in a day for most instructors to give students individualized attention. But e-mail access makes professors more accessible. Most still keep regular hours, but digital communication is typically more to the point and quicker to respond to. Students get the clarifications they need faster without juggling meeting schedules.

Less Ecological Impact

Environmental awareness is prompting many students to ask how education options impact the world around them. Online learning supports ecological goals through several mechanisms.

First, it gets cars off the road, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Home heating and cooling is also more efficient than keeping large buildings comfortable, saving electricity. And since textbooks and assignments are digital, trees breathe a sigh of relief. The average school burns through 2000-plus pages of paper per day. By eating at home, you’ll also cut down on plastic waste.

Builds Technical Skills

Online degrees were once viewed suspiciously by employers who were convinced that the learning was subpar. Now, they not only embrace the concept, but they also understand that online students are among the most tech-savvy.

The audio-visual tools and equipment that make virtual education possible are similar to those used by modern businesses. Hospitals know that online nursing students, for example, can handle telemedicine equipment. The process of taking online courses is a credential in itself in some fields.

The Benefits of On-Campus Classes

The advantages of online classes are too good to ignore. Still, there are some students for whom an on-campus learning experience is a better choice. The benefits include:

Stronger Interpersonal Connections

Online learning platforms have come a long way since the 80s. No longer cold or impersonal, they have a human touch. But nothing beats meeting people in person.

Getting a virtual education doesn’t preclude students from meeting classmates in person for off-campus activities, but social outliers are less likely to be included. In-person communication is more effective for building trust. Campuses have long served as a place where interpersonal relationships are cultivated, and lifelong friendships built.

Better Networking Opportunities

As a student, you can network with peers and instructors in an online class. But how many more people would you meet on campus? If networking is an important part of getting a job in your industry, it’s harder to make connections from home. Tomorrow’s contacts are the strangers you meet today.

Access to Laboratories

Hands-on learning is a must in some degree programs. Healthcare workers, for example, can’t complete their education without practicing with the equipment they’ll use on the job. Campuses have well-equipped laboratories in which you can learn more about the tools of your trade.

A Dedicated Learning Environment

Students with strong time management skills excel at virtual learning, but procrastinators often struggle with online classes because they tend to fall prey to distractions. In total, they spend less time learning because they fall behind before running into deadlines. The quality of their work suffers, and outcomes are poor. It’s the same phenomenon observed among some at-home workers during the pandemic.

But in-person classrooms are a dedicated learning environment. You can’t walk out of a lecture like you would at home to get the kids a snack or do a quick chore. There are fewer diversions. And most programs have attendance requirements, meaning that you can’t miss more than a few classes without compromising your academic status.

For some students, an online program of synchronous classes is enough to keep them on track. For others, on-campus programs provide the structure and personal accountability they need to be successful.

A Low-Tech Approach

Some Americans don’t have stable internet services. That’s a problem because online learning requires streaming-quality access.

If you live in an underserved area, broadband speeds may not be high enough to support virtual learning. Or, if it’s accessible but unaffordable, an on-campus program may be a better option. A conventional classroom is also ideal for students who are uncomfortable with eLearning technology.

Final Thoughts

Online degree programs are improving access to education nationwide. More options mean fewer students are left behind. So, whether you prefer virtual learning or a traditional education, you have access to a learning environment that works for you. Choice is the best thing to happen to colleges since textbooks.

Want to Learn More?

At Florida National University, we believe everyone should have access to higher education to improve their lives and the lives of their families. If you are interested in getting a degree, diploma or certificate, let Florida National University answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more about our online and on-campus programs.