After reading all of these reports that study and compare online courses versus face-to-face course, I have to ask: why on Earth do we even need to know which one is better? Why are so many people intent on setting up some battle royale where only one or the other can survive?
Online learning has its pros and cons, just like face-to-face learning does. So, it is not suprising that some studies are finding that hybrid approaches work best. That should not surprise anyone – you take the best of both worlds and the results are bound to be awesome. Peanut butter and chocolate – need I say more?
We need to realize that sometimes the online option is chosen not because it is superior, but because it is most convenient. People want a certain degree, for example, but it is not offered near them. So the compromise to not getting the degree at all is to take it online. Whether it is better than getting the degree face-to-face is irrelevant – it is the only option they have. Or maybe even the person lives near a college with the degree, but has such a crazy work schedule that asynchronous learning is the only option.
Or it may even be that they can go get the face-to-face degree, but opt for the online one because some bad article some where convinced them that online learning is “better.” They might be the type of person that doesn’t do so well online, and end up dropping out before completion.
All that these crazy studies are going to do is discourage people from getting a degree or training or education of some kind because they will be fearful of getting a lesser education. We need to quit proving to people that one or the other is better and just present them with the facts and let them chose the option that best suits them.
Wow… why does that concept sound so… familiar… ? It is almost like…. some other industry out there uses it or something….
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.