Debate: Online Classes vs. Classroom Learning

Illustration by Jeff Buckholz



A multicultural and diverse student body is what Norwalk Community College prides itself on having. Students’ ages range from 15 to 90; not every student at NCC fits into the 18-22 demographic. That is why not every student will fit in a traditional classroom setting.

Though many may not favor the alternative online courses, there are many reasons why online classes can be just as helpful, if not better than tradition classroom courses.

An obvious benefit of taking online courses is the amount of time that is saved from not having to physically be in a classroom. College commutes would be cut along with all its expenses: gas money, lunch, etc.

When taking a course online, a student has a much more flexible schedule and can avoid taking a necessary course at an inconvenient time or worse, not taking the course at all because of time restrants.

Saved time can then be used to work full time, take more classes, or for extracurricular activities such as volunteering and internships. The hour used in a classroom setting is often dramatically reduced in an online class simply because a student may go at a certain pace of learning and undertake activities which could not be taken in a classroom setting.

Being in a classroom, whether it be a small classroom or big lecture, there are many other students involved in the ‘learning experience’. Though social settings can be a positive thing, the presence of a whole classroom of other students can be distracting and destructive to a student’s personal learning; both teachers and students can go off on tangents and the discussion can be swayed in a way that is completely irrelevant to the topic that is being taught.

These distractions extend further than set classroom discussions or activities, to ‘discussions’ that students have with one another; specifically with students that interrupt class time to text or talk to each other. When a discussion occurs in an online class there is  little room for irrelevant topics or classroom distractions.

In an online class, each student can take time to carefully and eloquently think of responses to discussions and questions and those who fear public speaking can receive a good grade in participation despite being shy or having to subject themselves to something they are scared to do. With an online class, if a student has a question, they can e-mail their teacher and get a direct response; in a classroom setting a student must raise their hand and wait to be called, if they are called at all.

It is a common misconception among those against online classes that the courses are ‘more work’ than classroom setting courses; it isn’t a greater workload, but rather a different style of work. With online classes the weekly work may seem intimidating and excessive, but only because it is being viewed at one time.

The point that I personally find the most important is that having an online class can involve more will power than having to go to a class. A student might miss a class or  an assignment because they couldn’t attend class a certain day and in the long run hurt their grade. With online classes, a student cannot blame missing work on not  knowing about an assignment or missing a class. Online classes push students to fully invest in their learning. It teaches students self-discipline and builds up to success.




As a student at Norwalk Community College and other schools, I have taken both online and traditional classes. Of the two, I have found traditional classes are superior. By coming to school, I experienced an environmental change, new perspectives of every imaginable topic, connections that could last a lifetime, and a way to always get extra help if needed. All of which have helped my education and made it worthwhile.

When I come to school, I physically remove myself from my immediate environment into one that is designed for learning. I remove myself from distractions and temptations that linger at home to a place where I can focus. When I come to school, I know I have a purpose and so there is a clear pathway to learning.

Another advantage of taking traditional classes is the multiple ways to gain perspective and make lifelong connections. Through professors, classmates, clubs, and study groups, I have the opportunity to see things from endless viewpoints. In our discussions and lectures, I can express and form my own opinions in a well-rounded way. By doing so, not only do I benefit myself, but also I benefit those I connect with. They become people who I enjoy interacting with; they aren’t just text on a screen.

Often, students who come to classes can be underestimated in their dedication, motivation and commitment. In reality, for many students, coming to school is a testimony in itself of their will power and dedication to learning. To show up routinely when many students have jobs and other responsibilities is nothing short of dedication. To do this for however long it takes to get a degree shows strength in their commitment and motivation.

Then are the benefits through the extra help offered. This might be tutoring, recitation or staying after class; all of which provide clarity in subjects that may be difficult for students. Many times the help is there as soon as I need it.

Traditional classes may not be for everyone, and the degree of dedication required may not suit everyone either. Still, no matter how you go about your education, self-motivation and dedication are your keys to a great education. Coming to school doesn’t guarantee that you will get an education, but it definitely can motivate you to.

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