Online Programs vs. Campus Programs

The history of collegiate education dates back hundreds of years. Since that time, students have traveled to a college campuses to learn directly from professors face-to-face in a classroom environment. But as society has changed, so have the needs of college students, and the traditional delivery method of a post-secondary education no longer is ideal for everyone. By the 1990s, online degree programs began to popping up, making higher education more attainable for the nontraditional student. While the quality of this type of distance learning may have been questioned at first, online colleges and universities have gained credibility over the years as people began to realize that they gave students the same education, just in a different way. If you are currently looking for an alternative way to earn an education, read on to learn about online vs. campus programs.

Virtual Instruction vs. Classroom Instruction

Campus programs require students to receive instruction in a classroom, where they may listen to a professor’s lecture or watch a presentation. In-class activities like labs, worksheets, or pop quizzes may be used for hands-on learning, and may be completed independently or in a group. In a virtual learning environment, such as that created by online accredited universities, the distribution of information no longer takes place through in-person interaction with an instructor or classmates.

The Sloan Consortium defines an online course as one that takes place 100% online with no face-to-face sessions. The idea is that online course delivery completely eliminates geography in the student/institution equation. Online elements, rather than physical proximity, replace all interactions between the student and the content, instructor, and classmates. Rather than lectures, lessons are completed through modules consisting of learning resources and activities that allow students to grasp course objectives. Tools like simulations, podcasts, Web applications, and Webinars take the place of traditional instruction. In addition, rather than participating in in-class debates or raising your hand in class, learning communities are created through discussion boards, chat rooms, email, and social networking applications.

Scheduled vs. Flexible Class Times

Since programs at accredited online universities are designed to meet the educational needs of those unable to frequent a college campus, they are not bound by the constraints of time or distance. Students are not required to free up their entire calendar every semester to make room for a demanding class schedule controlled by meeting times and deadlines. In campus programs, conflicting class times may mean that you may have to wait another semester before you can take a course. But scheduling conflicts are not a problem in online programs where classes don’t meet at a certain time and place. With class schedules that are not set in stone, students in online programs have the liberty of fitting school in their lives rather than the other way around. Even though there are still course requirements and homework deadlines, which may determine your schedule from time to time, the flexibility that is so characteristic of online learning at some of the best online universities offers a certain level of convenience that campus programs do not.

Classwork vs. Homework

In online programs, you don’t have to bring your work home because, well, you already are. Going to class is as simple as logging in to a learning management system, such as Blackboard, Moodle, or Angel, and most likely, the majority of class work can be completed there. Exercises that measure participation, like academic discussions and debates that typically take place in a classroom, are instead conducted on online discussion boards where students post their responses to questions regarding course material. And you don’t have to travel to campus just to turn in your homework. Class assignments for reading material, projects, essays, and term papers are all available online, as are most quizzes and exams, and can be submitted through file upload. Campus programs, on the other hand, require students to not only participate in classwork, but also to take homework back with them on top of it. But universities offering online degrees combine the two into one, allowing you to get everything done at once and also saving you a lot of travel time.

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