Thursday, August 7, 2008

Does Online Education = On Campus Education?

For me? The answer is Yes. Online education = on campus education experience!

I was debating with a colleague about online versus on-campus education. Many of us who have experienced both, realize there are pros and cons for each approach and that it really depends on the individual’s needs. I debated my colleague’s point that there is a stronger sense of community developed in on-campus education with other students rather than in online education programs.

That was not the case for me. For eight of the ten years between my first associate degree and my MBA; I was a full time parent and the on-campus experience was a big hindrance for me. As a parent, I had no “extra” time for the on campus education experiences that others speak about.

My days were spent racing from class, to car, to work, to kids’ school and to home. Since I was on campus just for class time, much of my communication with professors or student affairs was "virtual" and conducted via email or telephones anyway.

There was nothing more frustrating for me than to have to take a day from work to go back to campus during “business hours” to take care of college business. College business like parking tickets every semester, because I needed to park close to a particular building so I could pick up my kids on time. In fact, I had to delay my MBA official completion one whole semester, since I did not make it on campus to pay an $18 fee to get my MBA project thesis bound.

I felt great camaraderie with classmates in the few online classes I was able to take. For me there was immediate kinship,once we recognized we were all in the same online education boat, so to speak. It was always a pleasure for me to meet someone again in another class and even better when we got to meet in person, as we did sometimes.

What do you think about the online education vs. on campus education experience debate?


almostgotit said...

As a professor's wife, I do believe a real-time, on campus experience is best. However, as a mom and a web developer, I understand that the online experience is often the only way to go... *and* the online experience becomes more interactive every year. Many online AND campus instructors require students to participate in discussion boards, for instance.. and some classes even incorporate "virtual classroom" technology (e.g. Second Life). Many students find this kind of participation is actually easier than "real time" classrooms, because they have more time to think of whatto say, for one... and don't have the same "public speaking" bogeys to face, for another.

Marcia Robinson said...

Thanks for your insider perspective. You are right. I am for any tools that help people get involved in their own education through comments, posting etc. I have been in many classrooms where students will be silent all semester.

Thanks for checking in!