Which is better? Traditional Schooling, or online?

December 7, 2012

The people at USBundles have offered a $1,000 scholarship in exchange for answering this question on my blog, do you think that traditional or online schooling is better?
I am biology major, as such, I spend a lot of time doing laboratory exercises, and learning laboratory techniques that cannot be simulated online. However, I recognize the advantages of the changing face in education, where class is no longer limited to copying down notes as professor lectures. In fact, I believe the future of education will not, and likely cannot, be a choice between online and traditional, but rather, a synthesis of the two. Online classes can offer students a far greater ability to be interactive with the material. For example, my chemistry classes are supplemented with online homework programs that require me to work through chemical reactions, and can give me real-time feedback. Traditional paper-based assignments take time to grade, therefore allowing the student to continue making the same mistake, to the point where it can cause them trouble on future subject matter.
Naturally, the traditional method of classroom lecture is very useful, particularly if the professor is an adept teacher. The feedback in online programs may be “canned” and unable to adequately address the actual mistake the student is making, whereas a skilled teacher can simplify material, and help the student relate it to what they already know. The other advantage is actual real-world experience in the subject matter, which, as a science major, is crucial for my learning of laboratory methods.
Education is not a one-size fits all issue, studies show that the best approach is varied, since every student learns differently. Neither method is better than the other, but they make for a very powerful combination.

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