A few decades ago, it was merely impossible to think of studying entirely online. However, new technologies made education more accessible, inclusive and engaging. Technology is unarguably a great tool to make learning more personalised and less monotonous. Even though the popularity of online universities has increased, millions of students still prefer to attend a traditional university to complete their tertiary education. There is no doubt that each student has a different learning style, and both options have many advantages. Let’s examine online vs on-campus learning in five areas that interest learners the most.
Cost-Effectiveness: Online Vs Traditional University
Online learning is gaining credibility as more renowned universities shift to online programmes to accommodate more students worldwide. Online universities have grown in popularity as they are considerably less expensive than traditional ones. International students can earn an equivalent to an on-campus degree while paying less for tuition. Moreover, online education is more affordable as you avoid expenses like accommodation, transportation and other living costs. When choosing a traditional university, students must budget carefully as living expenses, and tuition fees in many western countries are quite high. Fortunately, though, both options can be more affordable if a candidate is awarded a scholarship.
Online universities are not only affordable but also “greener” than on-campus ones. Online institutions, their staff, faculty and students all make a positive impact on the environment. Firstly, they do not have to commute to school, and thus they decrease their carbon footprint. Secondly, all study material is online (saving tons of paper waste); thirdly, schools significantly reduce their energy consumption by providing their curricula online.
Flexibility Of Online and Traditional Universities
Working professionals, mothers and fathers with family and other commitments can benefit from flexible online programmes that allow them to arrange their studies around their busy schedule. While online learning enables students to control study timetables, traditional learning is more rigid and structured as students need to be present in lectures. Therefore, online universities are perfect for busy adults who want to arrange their own study time and be accountable for their learning. Traditional studies, au contraire, are more suitable for students who lack concentration and need more face-to-face guidance to complete their coursework. Especially younger students who need tutor support during their first semesters. Meanwhile, postgraduate students can study more independently as they have the experience to research, analyse and conduct assignments with less assistance.
Communication and Computer Skills
Due to the recent COVID19 crisis, educational tools that support virtual lessons have been deployed to assist millions of university students who were restricted due to lockdowns. E-learning is not just watching recorded lectures; learners can experience the whole student journey without leaving their houses. Digital learning platforms include highly effective virtual rooms, internal communication for student support, extensive e-libraries, video tutorials, forums, podcasts, webinars, coursework planning boards and many more. During the induction module of an online university, online students learn how to use all these tools to maximise learning. Since online learning relies heavily on technology, students develop computer skills that are useful for their future workplaces. Recent surveys show that many employers hire computer literate graduates who know how to manage multiple tools effectively. Undoubtedly, online learning is an excellent method for learners to improve their computer and communication skills.
At the same time, students who study on campus need to attend conferences, workshops and organise group meetings with fellow students to carry out group projects. There is more face-to-face communication, interaction and socialising with classmates. But, it is more time consuming and stressful for the more timid students who do not enjoy social and academic gatherings. For this reason, many educators claim that many learners would benefit from a blended learning option instead. Through blended learning, learners can attend on-ground activities that increase student engagement and use technology to enhance their studies.
Accessibility and Student Life
The greatest advantage of online learning is that it has made higher education more accessible and viable for international students regardless of their location, socioeconomic status and background. Getting into a prestigious university is nowadays easier for anyone who meets the academic criteria. Earning a quality degree online is an excellent option for people who live on a different continent. Thanks to technology, tertiary education is more inclusive as it caters for students from different backgrounds. Conversely, a traditional university can be a good choice for those who want to combine travelling and studying abroad. Many international students crave to experience student life, new customs, traditions, meet new people, and pursue a career abroad.
There is no right or wrong choice; students should weigh the pros and cons and decide according to their own learning style and circumstances.