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Compare and Contrast: Online and Traditional Education Rene D. Vencer Iloilo City
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Introduction Everybody knows what a traditional classroom is. From the elementary or even kindergarten to undergraduate (BS) degree, or even as high as doctoral we always have to pass trough the classrooms as we see it up to today. But how does one picture the classroom of the online educational system? It is happening today, but in the Philippines it is not yet a classroom to reckon although it is available. However, no story or study is yet so available (research on online education, Philippine setting). It is therefore a comparison and contrast of online and traditional educational setting outside the Philippines that is discussed here (with little emphasis in Philippines). Hybrid Educational Environment A hybrid set-up is mixture of the traditional face-to-face classroom work and online through the various technology assisted interventions. This we could say is so prevalent in the Philippines and elsewhere. The call it synchronous interactions when it is thru the internet (using e-mail, browser, messenger, etc) and asynchronous interaction when it is done thru discussions rooms ; lectures through video conferencing; examinations done in computer laboratories where the tests are no longer paper-based but are uploaded in the computer facility; among others. The UPOU, CAP School, De la Salle & PWU maybe partially doing these actions and could still be hybrid (Librero, 2005, http://www.cap.com.ph/college/product.htm , Estopace, 2001, Benitez, 1993). The traditional face-to-face classroom teaching is still the most prevalent set-up in majority of schools, Philippines and abroad, in both public and private institutions. But some
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pioneering schools have started implementing blended and hybrid set-ups and some even went ahead with full online learning as a result of the technological advances. A blended classroom is one where the teacher uses the computer as part of instruction delivery either through the use of available software like spreadsheets and powerpoints, multi-media or use of e-groups to send lecture notes and reminders to class, or doing Internet research and other similar applications through the web. A full online set-up is one where face-to-face classroom interaction is not employed anymore and the instructional set-up and materials are all done through the web (Berino, 2006). Comparison of Traditional and Online Classroom In as much as traditional classroom is so familiar with everyone, there will be more of the discussion that covers online classroom or what is supposed to be online education. Words and terms with deep meaning related to online education are further emphasized (keywords in bold). The use of the Internet has produced a great transformation on people’s lives and on the way that people do things. And although the changes brought about by the use of the Internet have not transformed campus teaching and learning at the same speed as they have transformed everyday life, there is no doubt that it is gradually producing an impact in campus-based education. This impact is especially noticeable in three aspects: access, the definition of classroom space and the implementation of practices that were unusual for place-based education. However, the use of the Internet in classroom teaching is not as widespread as the use of the Internet for information, entertainment, communication, and research. ( Scagnoli, 2005 ).
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Scagnoli have called it impact, but call this impact as a way of describing comparison sought for online education and traditional method. Access to information is not limited to class materials, and access to class materials is no longer limited to the class time or to the physical space of the classroom. Online communications facilitate access to the instructor, the students, support staff or administrators, and the class is open twenty-four hours a day. This immediate access has had an impact in campus students’ retention and learning achievement. We could say that traditional classroom has the same accessibility as when you are online. Internet (vis-à-vis computer ) can be used by both the online and traditional education. Online education provides easy access to peers, which allows the establishment of a network of scholars for the purposes of intellectual exchange, collaboration, and collective thinking, but this is possible in traditional education but limited by face-to-face contact. Providing quality learning experiences is the goal and responsibility of all educational programs, assuring student, faculty, and program success. However, it is of special importance to distance learning programs that have historically been considered incapable of meeting the standards of traditional education. But should our goal be to meet existing standards of education or has distance education, and especially online education, opened the door to enhanced strategies in teaching and learning. Ever since, people have been trying to prove that distance education is “as good as” traditional education. New information technology and media have added new dimensions and possibilities to the conduct of teaching and learning, creating the potential for more interactive, interpersonal, group environments (McDonald, 2002). Actually, online education could probably match or even exceed traditional education depends on the student and perhaps faculty of instruction.
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The second impact can be seen in the notion of classroom space ( Scagnoli, 2005), which takes a whole different meaning as a synonym of learning space . Online education blurs the line between distance education and traditional, place-based education, primarily because of the opportunity for discussion, collaboration, and the potential for building a sense of community among participants inside and outside of the classroom Faculty can choose between several available online applications to encourage online interaction via synchronous and/or asynchronous methods. These methods are used to extend the classroom discussions, to allow for student insights on a new topic, to enhance a lecture, or to discuss readings. Collaboration among students in the same class, or between students and researchers residing in different geographical locations is possible as long as they can all share the virtual collaborative space of the online classroom. This is the main difference, while traditional will be very limited both in time and space. Scagnoli describes the third element considered here as an impact of online learning on classroom education is the implementation of practices that were unusual for placed-based education. Distance education practices have been adopted in the face-to-face classroom affecting design and implementation of campus-based instruction. However, distance education turned out to be more and more noticeable as a part of the higher education family because of the uses it makes of educational technologies and new pedagogical strategies that improve the process of teaching and learning. Way back in 1984, I have personally made enough documentation of my experiences and education which is ( supposed to be) credited towards distance education and earned a Master’s degree. However, this school today was in fact not recognized by educational authority in California. There was no internet and good telecommunication method at that time.
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The instructional insights gained in the online distance world produced a transformation that also reached campus-based education. The developments that occurred with the incorporation of the Web into distance education practices—such as synchronous and asynchronous class discussion; extensive peer review of class documents; constant comments and reflections on opinions and answers given by classmates; online collaboration; document and application sharing—were rare or never part of (traditional) campus-based courses for very practical reasons Overall, research suggests that students are just as satisfied with the quality of teaching in the virtual classroom (also online) as the actual classroom . But the differences between the two learning arenas are significant. Cost, standardization and a consumer focus seem to be prevalent in distance education. The student body is also different in the two classrooms. Students with family and work obligations were more likely to take online classes than those without. Also, the majority of students in distance classes are working toward a Master’s degree. Understanding the history of distance education is valuable in that it shows there was more than one historical path to distance education and that the evolution of distance education has not been easy. Many of the same problems facing implementation and acceptance of educational innovations today have been faced by distance education throughout its history ( Jeffries, 2006??). Now, it has gone a very long way (as described earlier, even in the Philippines) but for full online education is still “ going on”. The quality of the participation in online may not be as high as in the traditional method. It is harder to engage in a debate or encourage valuable quick-thinking skills in the online environment. Speeches and presentations in front of the classroom are rarely found in the virtual classroom. Overall, research suggests that the success of the student depends on their own
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preferences of how to take classes. Distance education classes just offer another way for students to earn a degree. In the face-to-face or virtual classroom there is no “better” way to learn, just different ways to learn. whereas traditional universities focus on the educational process first. The are so many comparison that needs to be sorted for experiences in other countries, particularly that of the first world in online education and countries like the Philippines can learn from it. Contrasting Traditional and Online Classroom Although there are differences in comparing and contrasting, the stories, experiences and/or literature below weighs more on contrasting. The following is the experience of Dr. Elizabeth A. Hansen (Associate Professor , Educational Leadership and Services). One of the major differences she noticed was when she taught the online Psychology 101 course and the traditional Psychology 101 course, was the fact that students were more willing to self-disclose in the online environment than in the face-to-face interaction of a traditional classroom. She polled the students and the main reason was that they felt more comfortable in discussing personal situations was that online no one could "look at them." In the traditional class, perceived public opinion of the class was enough to keep many students from jumping into a discussion. Online, she had to closely guide the discussion when students started to treat the discussion like a therapy session. We see this phenomenon in public chat rooms, where people self-disclose to strangers more than they would in a face-to-face situation. Since students can post comments and answers questions whenever they sign on, the interaction is of a more thoughtful nature - writing out the question and waiting for a written reply such as on the discussion board feature in blackboard. In the traditional classroom,
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sometimes we talk before we think. Online features can be set up to allow students to modify or remove a posting. It is like going back in time and changing what you said or retracting a statement ( Hansen, 2001). The example of curriculum of University of Washington that is fully online and methodology is shown on http://www.onlinelearning.washington.edu/ol/intros/acctg225/ , while the course contents are the same as that of the traditional, in contrast, it is delivered fully by online methodology. But the evaluation ( exams) are practically given in the same manner, that is proctored. The online course offers several advantages to the traditional classroom, including the comprehensive Online Student Handbook, the ability to communicate electronically with students and with your instructor, and links to a rich array of online resources. In the Philippines, courses similar to this could be done by selected universities and selected courses. The only item that matters most is the proctored evaluation. There are still problems that must be solved, but these are slowly overcome as time goes on. The online education is here to stay.
(Note: Rene D. Vencer believes that it is students’ evaluation that matters most in online education)
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References: Benitez, C. (1993). Inaugural Address. Retrieved December 21, 2006 from http://www.pwu-online.net/historical.html Berino, D. (2006). Classroom’s changing paradigm. Retrieved December 21, 2006 from http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2006/dec/12/yehey/business/20061212bus10.html
Retrieved December 20, 2006 from http://www.cap.com.ph/college/product.htm
Estopace, E, (2001). Inside An E-Classroom. Retrieved December 21, 2006 from http://wise.dlsu.edu.ph/press-releases/eclassroom.asp Hansen, E. (2001). Comparison of Online and Traditional Interaction of Students Retrieved December 22, 2006 from http://www.ipfw.edu/as/tohe/2001/Papers/hansen.htm Jeffries, M. (2006 ?). Research in Distance Education. Retrieved December 21, 2006 from http://www.digitalschool.net/edu/DL_history_mJeffries.html Librero, F. (2005). Distance Education in UP: Options and Directions. Retrieved December 20, 2006 from http://www.upou.org/books/options.htm McDonald, J. (2002). Is "As Good as Face-to-Face" As Good As It Gets? Journal of Asynchronous Learning Method. Retrieved December 21, 2006 from http://www.aln.org/publications/jaln/v6n2/v6n2_macdonald.asp
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Scagnoli, N. (2005). Impact of Online Education on Traditional Campus-Based Education. Retrieved December 21, 2006 from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Oct_05/article06.htm University of Washington, (Online) Fundamentals of Managerial Accounting, Retrieved December 22, 2006 from http://www.onlinelearning.washington.edu/ol/intros/acctg225/
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