Online Classroom vs. Traditional Classroom

by NU Online on 2/26/20 8:01 AM

The need to expand your education is essential to set yourself apart from others with today’s continually changing job market. For many adult and lifelong learners, determining the best path to earning an academic degree is top of mind. 

open book and closed laptop on top of desk overlooking a window

With family and job commitments, the flexibility of earning a degree online may be the best option to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree successfully. Colleges across the world have adapted to the need for flexibility by creating online programs that still immerse students in the culture of the institution while providing a valuable degree that fits the needs around their schedules.

While many people have sat in a traditional classroom at some point in their life, a virtual classroom is a new and modern way to learn the same skills in a different environment that is accessible at your fingertips. As both learning options offer a unique and valuable educational experience, comparing an online classroom to a traditional classroom may assist you in finding the right pathway to earn your degree.


The traditional classroom

Traditionally, getting a bachelor’s degree involves taking about five classes per semester at two to three times a week on campus, and often, classes take place during busy times of the day, such as normal work hours. Attending a traditional college is a unique opportunity as it provides students with the ability to meet professors and other classmates in person. Often located on a charming campus, students have easy access to classrooms, campus clubs, writing centers, libraries, bookstores, dining halls, gyms, student support advisors, and residence halls.

Norwich University, which was founded in 1819 and is the birthplace of the ROTC, is nestled in the Green Mountains of central Vermont and provides an excelled education backed by a rich 200-year history of educating leaders.

Chaplin Hall, summer, Norwich University, Northfield, VT


What the online classroom looks like

With the fast pace of the modern world, online education provides an alternative way to earn a valuable degree. To provide students with a flexible, cost-effective, and more accessible way to earn a degree, many schools have adapted its programs into an online format. For example, Norwich’s online learning platform and virtual campus provides the rigorous and relevant programs similar to its traditional campus, as well as many similar and different resources, all in one location to ease the process of achieving a degree, such as:

  • Alumni Community information
  • Citing Your Sources and Writing Resources: guides students with how to cite and write based on a particular format
  • Financial planning, tuition, and bill payment
  • Grammarly and
  • Graduate Writing Center
  • Instructor and support staff directory
  • Important announcements
  • Library: library staff is available to help students locate resources
  • Moodle Student Handbook: provides assistance with how to use the online classroom
  • Textbook store and course catalog

Students also communicate with classmates and instructors, hand in course assignments, and locate required readings via the online classroom. In a traditional classroom, students must attend class at a predetermined time where tests are taken and assignments are turned in. In Norwich’s online classroom, students have 24/7 access to turn in assignments and contribute to class discussion, and courses are often structured so that assignments are due weekly. Students contribute to classroom discussions and communicate with classmates and professors via a forum-type style in Moodle that allows them to upload attachments, as well as students have access to a general chatbox to communicate with professors.

online classroom


Six pros of getting a traditional education

Students who want to get heavily involved with an educational institution and its culture often opt to attend college through conventional means. Those who benefit from having their class schedule largely predetermined for them tend to flourish in traditional learning settings. Traditional college students may build their communication skills from in-person interaction and use the structured environment as a baseline for how they manage their post-graduation responsibilities.   

Some traditional learning advantages include:

  1. Active learning and in-person class participation in real-time
  2. Comfort from prior experience learning in a traditional setting
  3. Extra-curricular activities through clubs, sports, and more
  4. Quick access to non-academic support services, such as gyms and counseling
  5. Face-to-face interactions with classmates, professors, and student support
  6. Structured scheduled learning and support


Six pros of getting an online education

While an online education provides more flexibility than traditional education, online learners retain different traits than a traditional learner. Online learners often have tremendous time management skills and are more independent students. With the accessibility of the learning environment, online learners are expected to learn in their own time.

For self-directed students, the advantages of online education may be the perfect way to foster personal and professional growth. Some online learning advantages include:

  1. Ability to interact with classmates and faculty from around the world
  2. Accessibility, convenience, and flexibility of an online classroom environment
  3. Continue to work and advance your career while you earn your degree
  4. Overall cost-effectiveness of not having to live on or commute to campus
  5. Self-maintained study time and chance to build time management skills
  6. Take courses around your schedule with limited class time and location restrictions


How to choose what’s best for you

Both online and classroom education provides the opportunity to enhance your skillset and collaborate with professors and classmates. It is important to decide if the flexibility of an online format will be the most adaptable to your busy lifestyle, or if the structure of a traditional program is essential to your academic success. If you have questions about the offerings at Norwich University, please contact Norwich at

Norwich University Online
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This post was written by NU Online

Norwich University Online offers several master’s degrees and bachelor’s degree completion programs as well as certificate and enrichment programs. Designed to accommodate students’ varied work schedules and lifestyles, our programs are delivered through a virtual and highly interactive learning platform that connects Norwich’s exceptional faculty and curricula to students across the country and around the world.

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