Online Education vs Classroom Education

by NU Online on 8/14/15 11:36 AM

laptop_notebook_penIn today’s job market, lifelong learning is now a part of nearly everyone’s career plan. When embarking on your educational career, the options for where to study and how to study are nearly endless. As more and more people pursue academic degrees, educational institutions, including Norwich University, are adapting to the diverse needs of the growing student population.

Today’s students often find themselves with family and job commitments that stretch beyond solely earning a degree. In response to the students’ additional obligations, colleges and universities present academic pathways that are more flexible to a range of schedules. Now it’s up to you to compare two higher education options: online education vs. classroom education.

If you’re having difficulty comparing online education vs. classroom education, take a look at some of the different characteristics of each academic environment.

Online Education

Online courses allow for the working adult student to remain competitive in their desired field without taking time off from their jobs. Are you comfortable with learning independently? Do you have good time management skills, feel comfortable on a computer and can juggle at least ten hours each week to devote to a course? These are all questions to ask yourself when considering online education.

Traits of a Successful Online Learner:

  1. Interest in Learning: Must learn about technology in addition to the subjects covered in the courses themselves.
  2. Inquisitive Nature: Reach out to your instructor or classmates when you have questions.
  3. Ability to Adapt Well to Change: Online programs change as technology advances, so you may have to adapt to these adjustments.
  4. Focus on Personal and Professional Growth: Must be successful in maintaining your motivation throughout the program.
  5. Self-Direction: Stay on schedule with assignments and take initiative to search for answers through all available resources.
  6. Open Mind: Embrace the diversity represented by your classmates and instructors.
  7. Online Presence: Be comfortable in sharing information about yourself with classmates and instructors.

A common misconception is that online education is easier than traditional classroom education; however, online instructors often assign more reading materials in order to ensure that students remain engaged. As an online student, it’s essential that you maintain the motivation throughout the entire course and that you stay in touch with both instructors and fellow students through a virtual classroom [view video below]. The success of online education often depends on how connected a student is to the classroom.


In 2014, over 5.7 million higher education students were taking at least one online course, a number that has grown at an annual rate of 3.7 percent. The accessibility of online education also brings in a population from all over the world, putting no limits on what professional background your classmates and instructors come from.

Online Learning Advantages:

  • Convenience and Flexibility
  • Ease of Accessibility
  • Control of Study Time
  • Cost-effectiveness

Classroom Education

As higher education adapts to the needs of students, institutions recognize that there is still great value and a large population interested in the traditional classroom environment. The classroom experience allows you to attend courses on campus and provides opportunities for you to become more involved with the educational institution through clubs or associations.

Classroom education works well for students who want face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers or for those who wish to earn a degree that may require more hands-on training throughout the course. Another benefit to classroom education is that you have direct access to the instructor in class and can participate in live discussions.

Traditional Learning Advantages:

  • Structured Schedule and Support
  • Inspires Effort
  • Promotes Academic Responsibility
  • Comfort in the Traditional Setting
  • Personal Interaction

Despite the means in which a course is held, both online and classroom education provide opportunity for collaboration with instructors or classmates, development of professional relationships, and enhancement of your learning. Whether you think the flexibility of an online education will work best in your busy life, or if you want the structure of a traditional program, your educational opportunities are limitless.


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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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