Online schooling is a teaching method in which students are taught virtually by teachers in different places with the physical differentiation of a screen. This learning method is carried out using technology such as a computer, laptop, internet, audio, and interactive video services. All teaching is conducted digitally, and the whole course is delivered online (Alamro and Schofield, 2012). In the last couple of years, online schooling has been of great importance and has proven to have a positive impact on students’ learning. It helps students set goals for them to progress in their bright careers. Online schooling is incredibly easy to access and does not require students to leave their house, reducing the chance of students being late to class; subsequently allowing an increased amount of teaching time, making it a more time and cost-effective option for parents (Saeed, 2007).
The aim of writing this article is to compare the features of an online school set-up with a traditional classroom and their subsequent impact on students’ learning.
The emergence of the online education system in the UK was initiated in the mid-19th century. It did not advance significantly due to the lack of resources. However, this trend in online education became more popular over the last few decades; particularly in 2020 with the global COVID-19 pandemic. The data collected and assessed by the NCES in 2019 suggests that 34.7% of secondary school students were registered in online courses for secondary schooling, equating to in the UK, an estimated increase of 1.6 % from 2018 (Parsons and Lewis, 2009).
Nowadays, online schooling is popular among young learners. Most primary and secondary schools are now offering online schooling by using one method such as MOOC. It is an online schooling method in which a large group of students are encouraged to openly exchange their ideas and thoughts.
However, the downside of this method is that collaborative learning is very limited (Parsons and Lewis, 2009), due to large class sizes with varying ability levels, forcing teachers to divide their classes into two or three groups allowing them more time to respond to and monitor every student (Yick, Patrick and Costin, 2005). MOOC has taught us that online learning is more efficient if class sizes are smaller, allowing heightened teacher-student interaction.
Online schooling is entirely different from the traditional face-to-face approach. However, we have seen over the past year that conventional schools have integrated online learning alongside traditional teaching methods. Academic education specialists have suggested this blended learning approach is not effective (Condie and Livingston, 2007). These two teaching methods both have their benefits, however they require different teaching styles resulting in inconsistent learning for students in both these methods are used in tandem.
Ellis states that the “Online Discussion Board” is considered a student-centered approach as it gives students more independence to discuss, argue and bounce ideas of their teachers. This approach encourages a more collaborative learning environment allowing students to freely ask questions, increasing their social interaction with their teachers and their peers. This method has proven to student self-confidence (Allen et al., 2013). Therefore, proving De Lang’s argument that this method of online learning provides a more positive learning experience for the students (Allen et al., 2013).
The following factors are also responsible for influencing the effectiveness of both online and traditional learning.
Social interaction is a crucial concept in both online and traditional learning environments. This is often deemed a priority for students browsing online educational courses, as they want to know how much contact or interaction they will have with their instructors and peers. On the one hand, online education facilitates the student to interact within their lesson via video conferencing software, such as Zoom or Adobe Connect. Both these applications allow teachers the ability to share screens, host smaller breakout rooms, use interactive whiteboards, and use collaborative writing tools such as Google Docs.
On the other hand, in traditional school classrooms, social interaction is an automatic feature, allowing students to easily talk to their teachers. This allows a student’s learning experience to be enhanced by extensive discussions and critical thinking between their peers and teachers. Overall, social interaction within a traditional classroom improves a student’s confidence and peer-to-peer learning (Erstad, 2017).
Therefore, in summary, social interaction within a traditional classroom setting is far more extensive.
Flexibility is another significant factor that prospective students consider before choosing where to study. Online learning offers individual students the opportunity to study around work, travel, or looking after their families. This allows individuals to watch their lessons at a time and place that suits them (Hughes et al., 2007; Montgomery College, 2019). Online learning also offers students the opportunity to conduct additional classes alongside their primary field of study, such as English Language programmes and vocational courses such as Engineering. These flexible courses can be conducted in a range of timeframes, and cater to any age group (Kitaboo, 2019).
The cost of education is an important factor when considering where to study.
On the one hand, online learning is significantly cheaper than traditional learning, for example, a two-year A-Level course would cost around £15,000. This would allow students to save money for university tuition fees. Students who enrol in online educational programmes are given access to online libraries, giving them access to a range of didactic learning materials, at a click of a button, necessary to pass their exams (Saeed, 2007). Students at iBOS also have the opportunity to learn from practical science experiments which are demonstrated virtually with our state-of-the-art laboratory; but please note that this additional feature is not available at all online schools.
On the other hand, traditional face-to-face learning can cost up to £45,000, in a private UK school setting. This cost includes a wide range of extra-curricular activities such as sport, food technology, and drama; and access to a physical library and the opportunity to speak to teachers in person (Joo et al., 2014). These subjects are, for obvious reasons, limited within an online school set up. Therefore, if you are a student who enjoys these active and practical subjects, we recommend attending a traditional school. However, the UK’s state educational system offers free traditional education to every British child, providing these children with a basic education up until the age of 18.
The appropriate discipline and manners are essential in both online and traditional school settings. It is imperative to choose a school that encourages a high level of discipline.
Online educational settings are more suited to students who are self-motivated and independent. Therefore, students who are unorganised and lack motivation will not perform well in an online educational setting (Kitaboo, 2019).
A traditional school environment is more appropriate for students who require more teacher guidance and encouragement, allowing them to feel more confident to complete their schoolwork.
Overall, the choice of an online education versus a traditional one depends on a student’s personality, level of responsibility, and work ethic (Kitaboo, 2019).
Our Approach at the International British Online School:
At IBOS we have researched and studied a variety of different strategies and pedagogy to meet the needs of all our students from different backgrounds and learning systems. Our teachers and leaders have used the best practices of a traditional schools, merging them with the innovative technologies and online teaching strategies to maximise the learning experience of the students. The broad and comprehensive iBOS curriculum enables students to student up to 10 iGCSE subjects including options such as History, Geography, French, German, Spanish, Compute Science, Music, Religious Studies, Art and Personal, social, health and economic education.
At international A Level students can study up to 4 subjects.
The small class sizes and the 1:15 ratio of Adults to Students makes us unique in approach to learning of our students and better progress and outcome is demonstrated.
In conclusion, both online and traditional education systems have unique benefits. The decision to choose between the two depends on a multitude of factors such as cost, preferred subjects, student personalities, and preferred learning styles.
As online education is a relatively new phenomenon, the necessary research has yet to be conducted to give parents an accurate full picture. However, with the advancement of technology, it has become a more viable option for students around the world, and in the UK, it has changed the view of many teachers and has transformed many student’s accessibility to a high-quality education.
Alamro, A.S. and Schofield, S. (2012). Supporting traditional PBL with online discussion forums: A study from Qassim Medical School. Medical teacher, [online] 34(sup1), pp.20–S24. Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.918.8800&rep=rep1&type=pdf [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
Allen, Elaine, I., Seaman and Jeff (2013). Changing course ten years of tracking online education in the United States. Babson Park, MA Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group. – References – Scientific Research Publishing. [online] Scirp.org. Available at: https://www.scirp.org/(S(oyulxb452alnt1aej1nfow45))/reference/ReferencesPapers.aspx?ReferenceID=989091 [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
Condie, R. and Livingston, K. (2007). Blending online learning with traditional approaches: changing practices. British Journal of Educational Technology, [online] 38(2), pp.337–348. Available at: https://bera-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2006.00630.x [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
Erstad, W. (2017). Online vs. Traditional Education: What You Need to Know | Rasmussen College. [online] Rasmussen.edu. Available at: https://www.rasmussen.edu/student-experience/college-life/online-vs-traditional-education-answer-never-expected/ [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
Hughes, J.E., McLeod, S., Brown, R., Maeda, Y. and Choi, J. (2007). Academic Achievement and Perceptions of the Learning Environment in Virtual and Traditional Secondary Mathematics Classrooms. American Journal of Distance Education, [online] 21(4), pp.199–214. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08923640701595365 [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
Joo, E., Kyung, K., Park, M., and Pardos, Z. (2014). Essay Writing in Online Education: introducing an iterative peer collaboration system. [online] . Available at: https://www.ischool.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/student_projects/paperreportforfinalproject.pdf [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
Kentnor, H. (2015). Distance Education and the Evolution of Online Learning in the United States. Sturm College of Law: Faculty Scholarship, [online] 17(2). Available at: https://digitalcommons.du.edu/law_facpub/24 [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
Kitaboo (2019). Is Online Education Better than Traditional Education? – Kitaboo. [online] Kitaboo. Available at: https://kitaboo.com/is-online-education-better-than-traditional-education/ [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
Montgomery College (2019). Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Courses | Montgomery College, Maryland. [online] Montgomerycollege.edu. Available at: https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/academics/online-learning/distance/advantages-and-disadvantages-online-courses.html [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
Parsons, S. and Lewis, A. (2009). The home‐education of children with special needs or disabilities in the UK: views of parents from an online survey. International Journal of Inclusive Education, [online] 14(1), pp.67–86. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13603110802504135 [Accessed 24 Jan. 2021].
Saeed, M. (2007). Education System of Pakistan and the UK: Comparisons in Context to Inter-provincial and Inter-Countries Reflections. Research, [online] 29(2), pp.43–57. Available at: https://tobuk.co/hy-weke.pdf [Accessed 24 Jan. 2021].
Thompson, L.A., Ferdig, R. and Black, E. (2012). Online Schools and Children With Special Health and Educational Needs: Comparison With Performance in Traditional Schools. Journal of Medical Internet Research, [online] 14(3), p.e62. Available at: https://asset.jmir.pub/assets/1cb785382c005ca5c6b3a5356851e7cc.pdf [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
The University of Birmingham. (2020). Growth & Impact of Online Degrees on Education | UoB Online. [online] Available at: https://hub.birmingham.ac.uk/resources/article/online-degree-programmes-growth-impact-on-education/ [Accessed 24 Jan. 2021].
WERRELL, B. (2019). Resource Hub | Connections Academy. [online] www.connectionsacademy.com. Available at: https://www.connectionsacademy.com/support/resources/article/online-school-vs-traditional-school [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].
Yick, A.G., Patrick, P., and Costin, A. (2005). Navigating Distance and Traditional Higher Education: Online faculty experiences. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, [online] 6(2). Available at: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/235 [Accessed 23 Jan. 2021].