Traditional vs. online learning: which format is right for you?

You’ve decided to advance your career with some professional development courses – but what learning style is right for you?

Post by: Janelle Pagnucco, Communications, ECO Canada

With a growing number of institutions offering both traditional, in-class style course work or new, online course work, it can be difficult to know which educational format is the right fit.

So what is the best route for you to learn and invest your time and money? To help, we’ve researched and summarized the top three advantages of each learning style:

Top 3 Advantages of Online Courses

When it comes to traditional vs online learning here are some of the advantages of online learning.

1. Online courses work with your schedule

If you need a lot of flexibility and convenience, online courses are for you. This class format allows you to work around your other commitments like work, travel, family, friends, significant others or any other hobbies and activities that matter to you.
The beauty of online courses is that your classroom can be at your home, local library or a coffee shop — wherever you can access the internet.

If the idea of making it to campus at a prescribed time doesn’t fit your current lifestyle, then an online course can’t be beaten. Your only excuse for missing a class is not turning on your computer.

2. Online courses are focused on the individual

At an online school vs traditional school, rather than feeling like you’re one of 200 in a lecture theatre, you have direct access to your instructor via email in an online course. For students who are uncomfortable speaking up in front of a hundred or more of their peers, the online setting helps reduce many of the social inhibitions that accompany asking a question or participating in a discussion.

You can also interact as soon as a question pops into your head by posting your thoughts online. With online courses, there’s no need to wait for the right time to ask the question, simply fire off an email right away. This type of instant feedback enhances your opportunity to learn and share your ideas with others.

3. Online courses increase classroom reach and can connect you to a global village

As social media’s immense popularity demonstrates, online platforms are a great way to meet and interact with people across the world. This applies equally to the bulletin boards, chat rooms and mailing lists that are often used in online courses.
Even if you make a single post, this can stimulate more interaction and engaging conversations than what would have been possible in a typical, in-person classroom.

In addition, you often have the opportunity to reach out to a more diverse group of students. Since many online courses are offered globally, this type of class opens the doors to learning about other perspectives and connecting with peers from different corners of the world.

Top 3 Advantages of Classroom Learning

However, there are some benefits of classroom learning. Let’s look some more at traditional learning vs online learning.

1. A classroom environment offers comfort in familiarity

From the time we are enrolled in preschool, we become accustomed to learning within a structured environment where we sit with fellow classmates, complete activities and tests at our desks, and raise our hand to address the teacher — all within a specific timeframe.

Deviating from this method of learning may take some people out of their comfort zone. Sometimes, it’s best to stick with what works.

For busy professionals, time management is often the biggest challenge in their professional development plan. Since the traditional classroom setting provides a set schedule, it can help you manage your time more effectively and integrate your professional development coursework into your daily routine.

2. A classroom environment fosters better face-to-face interaction

If you are a learner who desires in-person conversation and debate, traditional learning is the place for you. With the right instructor, classrooms become a stage for lively discussion and feedback.

A classroom environment allows for the instant expression of opinions and thoughts with face-to-face interaction with classmates and the instructor.

These conversations help reassure students whether or not they are headed in the right direction and help keep the learning process moving.

3. A classroom environment has fewer technology requirements

Not everyone owns a computer or has access to the internet where they live.

Also, the campus is full of resources such as libraries or computer labs where students can access the technology required to complete course work. The bonus here is that while on-site, you can also take advantage of the office hours for your professor or teacher assistant.

There is no right or wrong learning style. Any choice you make needs to be the right one for your particular learning style and needs.

You may even find yourself taking some courses in a traditional classroom setting while tackling other subjects in an online format.

Either way, it’s certainly nice to have these options and the opportunity to enhance your knowledge and skills.

If you are planning on taking some professional development courses geared specifically for environmental professionals, then check out our online courses. This online training centre offers practical, targeted courses to help you build the skills that matter most to your environmental career.

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