Online Classes Vs. the Traditional Classroom

Online college courses are in high demand these days, since many people want the flexibility that online classes offer. Teaching online is still a new concept for many professors and therefore many teachers wonder what they are getting themselves into. Students have similar questions about the new technology and tools an online environment brings.

What are the differences between online teaching and teaching face-to-face? With online college classes becoming so popular, it is important for both professors and students to know how online classes work. Here are some facts about online courses:

Online Course Tools

While methods vary depending on the online school and your specific program, online courses can use many different tools including email communication, podcasts, posted material, message boards, live video classes, archived video classes, and more.

Types of Online Courses

Generally, there are two different types of online programs: synchronous, where students must be online at certain times to interact in real time with classmates and instructors, and asynchronous, in which you can complete your coursework whenever you like, though there are generally still due dates for assignments. Asynchronous classes are generally the most common due to demands for the greater flexibility they offer.

How are Online Courses Organized?

Because online classes are so text-based and often lack visual cues, every aspect of the course has to be spelled out in detail to avoid misunderstandings. In an online class, all of the professor’s lectures must be typed out and posted on the class website for students to read. Directions for all assignment must be written out in a logical, complete way. Converting traditional classes to online classes can mean lots of work for professors: all the material they usually say in front of classes must be converted to text; in addition to this, things need to be said in a different way to be understood in a text-based context.

Are Online Courses Difficult?

Even after they begin, online courses are often more work for professors, and students, than some traditional classes. Online instructors must log on to the course web site at least many times a week for a certain amount of time each session. They answer student questions, respond to discussion threads, evaluate assignments, and often spend a significant amount of time communicating by e-mail.


Online college courses require a lot of work, from both professors and students. They are highly text-based, which tends to require students to really think about what they are posting to discussion boards. Additionally, the more anonymous online forum promotes more equality between instructors and students. Despite the initial anonymity, over time, one-to-one relationships can be emphasized more in online classes than in more traditional settings.



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