By Education Contributor Dr. Tekemia Dorsey
In times such as the ones we live in, having a high school diploma is not enough. In fact, a degree beneath a Master’s remains limited depending on the field of expertise. An associate’s degree and a Bachelor’s degree are not sufficient regardless of which part of the world you live in. While society demands so much of us, we are compelled to make a choice on which form of learning works best for us. When we decide to go back to school after so many years, we are forced to face our areas of strengths and areas of concerns. For most of us, it has been years since we set in the classroom and it is not just about balancing school work and home, but school work, home, a family, a career, and so forth. When considering whether to choose an online modality or a traditional classroom modality, here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind:
· Requires time management
· Requires organizational skills
· Provides flexibility
· Provides 24 hour access to your professor
· Provides 24-hour access to an online library and a host of databases needed for research
· Allows learners to work with and connect with people around the world
· Limits the human connectivity with professor and classmates
· Requires team work and the building of virtual partnerships
· Challenges a learners’ style to instruction and success
· Requires a paradigm shift from traditional learning
· Requires effective communication
· Forces the learner to adapt to the challenges of technology
· Allows 24-hour access to complete and submit work
· Provides resources such as the Center for Writing Excellence, Plagiarism Checker, etc.
· Allows the learner to learn from the comfort of the home
· Forces the learner to adapt to another learning style or the combination of more than one, etc
Traditional Classroom Learning
· Provides face to face connection with professor
· Provides hands on instruction and support
· Limits access to professor
· Limits access to library and research needs
· Limits access to campus
· Does not require as stringent need for time management
· Does not require as stringent need for organizational skills
· Does not provide as much flexibility in course, personal, or professional scheduling
· Limits access to writing assistance, tutoring assistance, etc.
· The learner is required to attend scheduled courses
· Speaks to the learning style of the learner, etc.
The list goes on and on for either the traditional modality or learning versus the online modality of learning. When choosing which institutional approach to use, it is best to examine self before researching the pros and cons of which modality to consider.
When I started my doctoral journey in 2003, as a single parent of a then 6 year old, working a full time job and 1-2 part time jobs, there was no way I could go back to a traditional classroom. The course scheduling would have been grueling on an already hectic personal and professional schedule, my son would be negatively affected and his schedule and school routine would be comprised. I already knew that returning to the classroom in a traditional setting was not what I wanted to do because I did not want to have to schedule appointments with my professor, schedule time to go to the library or to be on campus further to take advantage of the resources provided. When I begin exploring online learning, the pros and cons, I knew it was more for me then a traditional classroom.
Little did I know that the online classroom helped to strengthen skills and unveil other skills previously covered. The online classroom worked for me best after I was honest with self in what I wanted and what I was bringing to the table. Online learning worked for me because I made it work for me by knowing self and adjusting the learning curves presented along the way.
As you begin or continue to pursue a higher education, face your demons first and then research the pros and cons of your options. Better to know in the beginning then never making it to the end. I knew online learning was better for me than the traditional classroom. Over 65+ learners started with me in 2003 on our doctoral journey at the University of Phoenix, however, when I graduated in 2006, only 4 of us made it. Be a part of the 4 that make it versus the 61+ that did not. Evaluate self by weighing the pros and cons.
Dr. Tekemia Dorsey