The spread of computer technology has stimulated the emergence of innovative educational systems and active development of distance forms of education. Today, many people who want to pursue a higher education face to a hard choice: either to be trained in a traditional high school / university, or to receive education virtually, communicating with a bearer of knowledge and information using the own computer.
The decision of a particular student may be affected by various factors, and the main purpose of this paper is to examine these factors in the frames of both online and traditional education. The main thesis is the following: supporters of online education states that at present, high-quality and affordable higher education is not necessarily includes a daily attending of seminars and lectures for 5 years, while supporters of traditional education, in their turn, states that many students need permanent control from teacher’s side which is impossible during online education.
At the beginning, it is important to mention that distance education is a progressive type of education that allows to connect together a geographically remote teacher, learning materials and a student in the learning process (Smith, Ferguson and Caris, 2001). Of course, there is no a doubt that distance education does not solve all the problems of education, but in some cases it allows to solve a number of important issues in higher education through the use of new information technologies (Meyer, 2002). In such a way, it is necessary to consider the objective reasons that allow to speak in favor of choosing distance learning in comparison to traditional methods of education.
The first point is the cost of education. Comparing the cost of online and traditional education, we see that the cost of online education is more affordable for students because online schools or universities have no necessity to rent classrooms or spend the payment on some housing needs (Kirtman, 2009). So, total expenditure on education can deduct travel expenses to the training center / university and expenses on the rent of apartment for the period of study. In addition, a student may independently select the time to study all the materials, which allows a person to use the own time in a more flexible way, and to save much more time for other important things.
The second point is the ability to select the own speed of learning. Course materials, tests and exams are available to students at any time during online education, while traditional education provides specific time frames for everything beginning with the access to educational materials and ending with the time of exams (Lynch, 2004). Being a distant student, a person can independently choose the time and amount of material studied. This is especially beneficial for people who already have a basic level of education and decided to expand their knowledge.
And finally, the third point is the access to prestigious universities, their educational programs and courses. Students who study in a traditional way (or employees of a company) may be interested in a parallel study of certain courses, disciplines, programs in another school / university. The technology of distance education allows people to achieve this goal and simultaneously examine multiple disciplines at different educational institutions, while traditional education limits the possibilities to be in several places at the same time.
In conclusion, it should be noted that it is important not to lose the two main characteristics that make online education so attractive to many students. These characteristics are flexibility and cost advantages, which allow people, who have been deprived of this opportunity in the past, to get higher education in their chosen area at present. Thus, quality, flexibility and cost, of course, remain key reasons for future university / college entrants in the choice of higher education programs.
Kirtman, L. Online versus In-class Courses: an Examination of Differences in Learning Outcomes. Issues in Teacher Education, Vol. 18, 2009.
Lynch, M. M. Learning Online: A Guide to Success in the Virtual Classroom. RoutledgeFalmer, 2004.
Meyer, K. Quality in Distance Education: Focus on On-Line Learning. Jossey-Bass, 2002.
Smith, G. G., Ferguson, D. and Caris, M. Online vs Face-to-Face. T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), Vol. 28, 2001.