Online courses are moving in. But that doesn’t mean traditional courses aren’t in your future.

If you look at the news, online courses are well on their way to world domination.

online courses

According to the 2012 study by the Sloan Consortium, which has been following trends in online courses since 2003, 32 percent of all higher education students now take at least one online course as part of their education. In the last month, nine more public university systems announced that they’re signing up with online course factory Coursera to expand the reach of the online courses they’ll provide to their students. Add to that a recent survey by Enterasys that found that 43 percent public and private universities are planning to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) by 2016, and it seems like online courses will be taking over higher education in no time.

But if you’re envisioning a near future where all traditional classrooms and lecture halls are extinct and college students consume their education through a computer screen, you might want to think again.

Students Prefer Traditional

A new national research study found that 78 percent of students surveyed found learning in a classroom easier than learning online. As excited as the media has gotten about online courses lately, it looks like online classes haven’t won the hearts and minds of the people just yet.

Keeping in mind that this statistic is about learning (and not all the other things that online courses excel at, like convenience and flexibility), you have to ask: what is it about online classes that makes them a more difficult learning environment? If we can hang out with friends and conduct corporate meetings on the Internet, why can’t we hold a darn college class online?

Maybe it’s because college learning has always been an interpersonal, community activity. Maybe it’s because human beings have always learned from one person to another, rather than from one screen to another. Whatever you believe about how education should happen, there’s strong evidence that most people learn better in person.

Which is best for you: online courses or traditional ones? Only you can decide that.

The Personal Touch

A study of one MOOC at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that students who mixed their online lessons with some good old-fashioned, in-person study groups scored three points higher than their classmates who studied alone.

online courses

Without sounding like a broken record, this study gives credence to the idea that, as awesome and convenient as online courses can be for their students, a little human interaction helps things stick.

Mixing It Up

Online courses will always be a compelling option for students who can’t fit traditional classes into their schedules, who have to hold down a full-time job while building their education. But who says that students have to go strictly online or strictly traditional? What if they can get the convenience of online courses without losing the benefits of face-to-face human interaction?

What does this mean for you as a prospective online student? You’ll want to consider how you can add elements of traditional courses to your online education. Maybe this means you take courses online, but you go to the local library to study. Or maybe you find a local classmates to form a study group with. Or maybe in between your online courses, you take a few traditional ones at night. Mixing a little traditional with a little online can give you the quality of learning you want without losing the convenience of online courses.

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One comment on “Mixing It Up with Traditional and Online Courses

  • Thanks for the share. I couldn’t agree more with you! A mixture of both is definitely the best route to take.

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