Saturday, September 4, 2010

Online Vs Traditional

Charlotte Kaeding
Online vs. Traditional Education
September 4, 2010

Technology is an undeniable part of our everyday society. People can shop, date or even play poker online. With this new wave of online availability the internet seems to provide anything a person could need or want. But does this mean everything a person does on the internet is valuable or effective? It is easy to agree that not everything that happens online is instantly everyone’s best option. It is important to compare the options, and critically evaluate weather the internet can truly provide the best experience. This paper will discuss the pros and cons of the online options for a high school education and whether it is effective for everyone.
When beginning to compare the pros and cons of the online diploma it is first important to understand the online options for high school students. Each situation is different for all students but some of the main reasons students take online courses are; to improve grades in a class they have already taken, to catch up after falling behind their graduating class, to help students graduate early, for the flexibility online courses provide, and to experience a different learning environment for students who struggle in a tradition high school classroom (Cavanagh, 2006). Just like a traditional classroom every student is different as well as the reasons they choose the online option. The reason each student is choosing the online option will be different but has a dramatic effect on weather the program is valube and needed for their situation.
The difference between online courses and traditional classroom environments affect each student differently but it is important to clearly state the differences. First, the location of the class is different for a traditional high school class compared to the online class. In a traditional class students have specific dates and times they must attended class at a specific location. For example, a traditional high school student probably has six to eight classes a day at the high school each of which are about an hour. This means the traditional high school student will be in school five days a week for six to eight hours. The online option does not have specific times and places to meet but should check in daily online. Online students generally follow a course outline and have pre-determined due dates throughout their course when assignments are due. This is the only time sensitive event that students have to meet providing the student with the option when and where the course work will be done. This also means that the student can do their homework and class assignments anywhere the internet is offered.
Some benefits of the location in the online option of the course are students have more options for when the assignments are done as long as they are turned in on time (Stewart, 2010). Students can do their assignments the day before the assignment is due or three days before the assignment is due. It all depends on the students schedule and their work ethic. This is a benefit for students who have jobs or children because it provides the flexibility they need during the day. This however, could also be a con for students who are overwhelmed in their daily life and cannot find the time to complete the assignments or for students who are not self motivated. The online course puts the learning in the hands of the students and their own personal desire to complete the course. Any student who wants to take an online course has to have good time management and be able to balance their life as well as the work load that comes with online courses. Because there is not a teacher right their at all times the students are really responsible for their achievement in the class.
Classroom discussions are also different when comparing regular high school classes to the online classes. In a tradition classroom teachers can provide a topic and have students discuss different aspects of that topic. The students can verbally interact instantly and this can be done in one class period. When it comes to the online courses all discussions are posted on the internet and students must respond in writing to the questions as well as others responses. This would happen over the course of a few days, giving everyone time to post their thoughts as well as responses to other students post on the discussion board.
This can be a huge benefit for a student who lacks the verbal communication skills as well as the confidence to speak in front of their peers. It provides each student ample time to completely think through the question and be able to prepare a response as opposed to responding immediately to questions in a class (“Is Online For,”). Some students however are more effective in live discussions. Students may have better communication skills and might enjoy a true classroom setting discussion. This really depends on the student and which type of discussion they are most comfortable with. It is important to note that new advances in technology can provide online classes with actual discussions via webcams or Skype (Lohr, 2009). This creates the classroom discussion environment however is not used in all classes because of the scheduling conflicts. If online courses make students meet at specific times to chat it may affect the busy lives of many of the online users which is a main reason why people take online course making class web cam discussions less frequent.
Another difference between online classes and tradition classrooms are the lectures and the how the information is presented to the student. In a traditional classroom teachers can present information verbally to the entire class compared to the online class where a lecture could be prerecorded from the instructor and each student can view it in their own time. Lectures can also be student led or guided by in class projects.
This can beneficial to the student who is busy and would rather view the lesson in their own time. Online courses provide each student the opportunity to do each lesson at anytime of the day. It also allows students to start and stop the lecture at a time that is convenient for the student. For example if a student needed to review a concept or pause the video (Stewart, 2010). Having prerecorded information can be a problem however when considering the social aspects of being in a classroom. If a traditional lecture is happening, students can ask questions instantly, getting feedback and provided other learning opportunities for the other students (“Is Online For,”). Online, students would have to send questions to the teacher, then at the teachers convenience they would respond (“The difference between,” 2010). Depending on the teacher this could be instant, take a day or even longer. When lacking the actual social interaction students and teachers also lose the nonverbal connection found in actual classrooms. The teacher would never be able to see if the student showed concern about a topic unless they expressed it through e-mails which again takes time and may delay the student getting the help they need. This loses some of the personal touches classroom interaction can provide and takes the personal connection away from the students and teachers.
Assignments can also be different in a traditional classroom compared to the online class. Most assignments for the online class are written assignments compared to the variety of assignments like worksheets, class projects, or speeches. All of these can happen in an online class but are very difficult and usually teachers just go with the written assignments. This can be a negative aspect for online learning. Some students may not learn or be able to effectively communicate through the writing (“The difference between,” 2010). It is not always beneficial for every student to express their understanding of class material through writing. This would however be very effective for a student who enjoys writing and prefer writing papers to other class assignments. Assignments are very important in any class environment whether online or in a classroom because it provides the teacher with a way to asses the student. By only having the written assessment it limits possible ways for a student to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject at hand.
When it comes to assignments group projects are also very different online compared to in a classroom. In a tradition class students know their classmates and can easy be put into groups. The teacher can also use the scheduled class time to provide a working environment for the groups. In an online course, group projects are possible but normally assignments given to the students. Online students normally do not have the personal connection to all of their classmates. Each person usually works independently and may not know anyone in their class. The group for the projects would have to preset by the teacher and students would probably be communicating through emails rather then meeting in person. Working through emails may cause delays because of response time. Group projects online are also more a combination of different assignments to create on final assignment. Group Kaeding, 6
projects in a classroom or more of a collective effort form start to finish and create a community of learners with in the group. This provides a learning environment where students take the initiative to help the peers in the group. These aspects can be lost when doing groups projects online because of the communication barriers. Group projects online are definitely more difficult for the students and may not be the most effective way for students to learn.
Classes that require labs can be very different when taken online compared to the tradition classroom. When doing a lab in class there is the set up, the lab, data collection and so on. When doing a lab online it would probably be more of a simulation or video of someone else doing the lab or performing the tasks rather then the student performing the lab, collecting the results and analyzing the data.
Doing labs online would create situations that limit the risk that can come along with labs. Simulations also allow for students to slow down the assignment so they can better understand each aspect allowing the lab to go at their pace rather then the time sensitive aspects that come with an actual lab which can be benefits to the online labs. Watching a simulation does however take out the hands on aspect that a tradition classroom provides. Students who enjoy using their hands and learn better from actually physically doing the assignment would benefit more from the classroom experience then an online simulation or video. This again is a situation that would be specific to how each student learns best.
Students in an online class compared to an in class experience also are assessed differently. Student in the online class usually have open book test that are timed and can be graded quickly if not instantly by the teacher or the computer program. In a tradition class assessments can be given similar to the online way but can also be verbal or presented to the class. Teachers can also personally interact with students and can asses their learning though the actual events in the everyday class. This provides opportunity for students who struggle with test to show their understanding of concepts and the lessons in other ways. Taking the test in personal also provides a controlled environment for the student to take the test. If the online student has a screaming baby and a television playing it may distract them hindering the actual results of the test. By taking the teat in a classroom the teacher can control the class and provide a quite working environment.
Online classes can also be reading heavy courses. Because of the limited interaction it leaves much of the learning up to the student and their dedication to the reading materials. For students who enjoys reading and can read quickly this makes online courses a great option. However for students who are not great readers it may limit the amount of knowledge they gain throughout the course. It may take more time for the student to learn through reading materials slowing down their progress in the online course. For students in the traditional classroom ready is also very prevalent however, it is important in both areas that students can read and effectively understand the material. Being in the classroom provides other ways for materials and information to be presented. Reading is not the only options for teachers and because they are interacting with the students they may see that reading is not the effective presentation of materials to that specific group. Being able to interact with the students will provide the best way to effectively teacher each student.
High school can also provide the social interaction that many students enjoy and learn from. This can be lost in the online classes because of the lack of interaction between students. Because students online do not normally interact socially with the other students it becomes strictly up to that student to learn the material and may find it difficult to get peer help. They will not easily receive the one on one interaction that normally can be an asset in the traditional classroom. Students who need that interaction and learn from their peers lose this effective method in the online world. The lack of developing friendships and relations in online classes may also hinder the person negatively in the other aspects of their life. Creating relationships in the classroom for many people is an important aspect to life and something a student gains beyond the required material. Students who do not desire the personal relationship aspect they can gain from classrooms may actually see this as a benefit to taking the online class. If they are independent and just want to understand the materiel and complete the course they may not need the interaction a tradition classroom can provide.
All of the pros and cons listed above really depend on the student and what they need form a course. This becomes the reacquiring theme throughout teaching that every student is different and has different needs. But the biggest concern with online classes is weather the student actually understands and benefits from the course. Does the student truly understand the course material and meet the required standards for those areas? This is a hard question to answerer but really depends on the class, the material, and the teacher.
As a teacher in an online class students still need to be engaged in the lessons. This provides a challenge for the teacher. To engage the learner lessons need to vary as well as assignments. It is important in any area of teaching that the student is interesting in the lesson. Online classes should still provide an interesting learning environment even though the student is not in the classroom. If the teacher cannot provide a interesting, engaging learning environment the students may put off the assignments, find ways around doing them completely or do them to just to get them done. As much as it is important the student turns in the assignment it is important they actually understand the material and feel connected to the class. It is also very boring for a student to do the same assignments every week and this could disengage students who are already behind in school. Students in online classes need be stimulated just as much as any other student.
Students in either the classroom or online still need to be challenged and pushed to excel. This can be difficult in an online environment because the teacher does not know the students personally. The online class may have students who excel in school and are trying to get ahead while other students in the online class may be students who already struggle in school (Michelle, 2009). This creates a situation where the teacher may not know and creates assignments that may be too hard or too easy. In the online class it would be more difficult to know students their level of learning and how they learn. Depending on the length of the of the online class teachers may develop the understanding of each student and where they are at but it would take more time without the personal interaction a student can receive in a traditional classroom.
After reading though all the information so far it can really be a toss up weather a student should be aloud to take online classes for their high school diploma or not. After reviewing the pros and cons I think it clearly depends on the student. Some may really excel in the online environment and may prefer it because of the flexibility and methods. I however, do strongly believe that the social interactions of high school are an important aspect for a student to prepare for the world. This does sway my decision in the final direction that online classes can be valuable and may work for some students but should not be the entire method to obtain their diploma. Students should still in some ways attend regular classes with students their own age. It is important for every student to learn how to socially interact with their peers on a daily level both professionally and socially. I also believe that having student’s continue taking regular high school classes it can provide them with resources to assist them with their online classes. If a student is struggling with an online class, they can go to a teacher, peer or a tutor in their high school. It provides them support and another resource to make all aspects of their learning successful. By continuing their tradition high school classes it also provides students access to the school technology and resources. This may help lower income students be able to take online classes because the school will be providing the necessary equipment and programs to participate in the course (Podoll & Randle, 2005).
When evaluating whether online classes are good for high school students it is also important to consider how they will affect them after the student graduates high school. If the students have taking all online classes to gradate high school does that diploma compare to a tradition high school diploma? It is a question that can be quit tricky because each online program is different. I believe this is again
where I would consider what other values a student gains and learns from high school beside just the school work. Being in high school students develop communication skills, social skills, and learns how to work with other people and interact in a community. I think this is the biggest difference between a traditional high school education and taking online courses. I do not think this however should make or break a student getting into college, it is just something consider. College essay questions, grade point averages and other activities the students participate in still are good resources when evaluating a student and their enrollment in college. It is also important to consider that when a student is entering college the college wants a student who is committed, and can meet the requirements of the program. If the online student can achieve this, which they may have shown through their online experience, then they should be considered for college. The completion of the online course should reflect their commitment to their personal development and education.
Overall when looking and all the pros and cons of taking online courses for a high school diploma verse the traditional high school I would strongly say I think taking some online courses would be acceptable, but not for their entire high school diploma. I would agree that students who want to get ahead, or make up a class the online option is a great solution. I do not think however a student’s complete diploma should be online. I think this limits the students and their overall success as a citizen. By allowing a student to take all online classes they are taking about from the social benefits of high school. The interaction between students, teachers and the over all environments are important for a student and help them learn how to socially interact in a community. I understand that high school and the social aspects are not easy for everyone but they are very important none the less. Every student needs social interaction as part of heir learning experience. Even if it is minor, some is better then none. I think this would also make the college search easier because they would not face the concern some colleges may have with a diploma that was obtained through all online classes. If students took some classes or even half online they would still have the quality high school classes and experience on their application. Overall the online courses should still meet the standards for the high school level and that specific content area so they should be considered for high school diploma, I truly just think a completely online degree losses the personal connection students receive in the traditional high school environment and would be the main reason I would encourage students to add online classes to their tradition high school classes.

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Lohr, S. (2009, August 19). Study finds that online education beats the classroom. Retrieved from

Michelle, D. (2009). Web-based classes booming in schools. Education Week, 28(19),
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Pape, L. (2005). High school on the web. American School Board Journal, 12-16.

Podoll, S., & Randle, D. (2005). Building a virtual high by click. The Journal, 33(2),

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Meeting the Needs of Students with Learning Disabilities through Assistive Technology

Thanks for a great time, y'all! My paper focuses on determining the technological needs of learning disabled students through assistive technology and how technology can enhance their academic pursuits in a meaningful way no matter what their goals may be.

Wendelin EDUC 506 Final Paper

Friday, September 3, 2010


I am glad that I picked this topic. I plan on utilizing at least a wiki in my classes and I feel more secure in teaching my students how to properly use photos. It has also made me more aware of what I need to think about when putting my artwork online. I had been briefly talked to about that my senior year of college, but not as in depth as some of the information I read told me.Enough it is....


Too Cool for School?

Final Paper

K-12 online classes: To be or Not to be?

Please see my final paper at:

Tech Paper

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The International Standards for Technology in Education is an association created for educators to help provide assistance to incorporate technology in the classroom. They are committed to providing engaging and effective learning through technology and assistant teachers in technological classroom advances in the PK-12 profession.

This websites provides interesting videos to help teachers include technology and use it effectively in the classroom. I have not watched all the videos but they have multiple videos for different stages of learning and different content areas.•S+in+Action

I also found an interesting WIKI like area where teachers can post and discussion different lessons, questions, or examples of technology in their classroom. I always find aspects like this interesting because it is first hand knowledge of what is actually happening in classrooms across the country.

There are also areas on the webpage that focus on periodical development and improving the teachers as well as how they present technology in the classroom.

To become a member of the organization there is a fee but it does get you discounts on books, social networking opportunities among other things. There is quite a bit of information you can still receive and utilize without being a member.

I found the standards on the website to be one of the most useful and interesting aspects. It helps set a standard as well as help teachers focus on the important concepts for learning about technology.