Traditional vs virtual degree

Traditional vs virtual degree: Weighing the pros and cons

Do you have the bandwidth to attend college full-time or are you a professional planning to juggle work and studies at the same time?

College life from being an interpersonal experience has now become an online experience. From group discussions over lunch in the canteen to live discussions online, there is a paradigm shift in how one can acquire a degree in today’s time.

With the pandemic disrupting the traditional model of education, the benefits of an online degree have been highlighted. While many feel that online education is here to stay, there are others with a radically different point of view. 

Before we decide which to choose, let us decode the differences between them. 

Discipline

There is no doubt that any kind of education requires discipline and motivation. However, there is a vast difference in the structure of learning. This can impact your output and ability to complete the course.

Traditional degree: On-campus education can provide an advantage in terms of discipline. From being reminded of upcoming assignments to regular attendance and interaction with professors, a traditional degree helps you stay on track. For procrastinators, structured education can be a boon.

Virtual degree: While online education allows you the flexibility of time, it demands a lot of self-motivation. At home, staying away from distractions and maintaining the attention span can be a task. By creating a dedicated workspace and a schedule, a virtual degree could give you its own benefits.

Social interaction

Are you one of those who derive motivation from classmates, peers and professors? Or do you thrive in a self-reliant study environment? This is a major point of differentiation between a traditional and virtual classroom. 

Traditional degree: This allows room for in-class, spur-of-the-moment questions, interpersonal connections between the students and professors. From lunching together to staying in the same hostels, a traditional degree allows you to build relationships outside the classroom as well. Having social interactions can be a major driving factor for some students.

Virtual degree: On the flip side, if you perform better when you study alone - a virtual degree could be your cup of tea. While there are discussions in this too, they take a different form and allow you to participate from the comfort of your home. Having pre-recorded lectures could allow you to understand subjects deeply at a convenient time with the freedom of re-viewing them as and when required with minimum loss of information.

Flexibility

Do you have the bandwidth to attend college full-time or are you a professional planning to juggle work and studies at the same time?

Traditional degree: Regular classes require a time commitment to the schedule planned by the college. For full-time students, this could be a great option. Classes are planned at regular timings in a week. The commute, however, could be a time-consuming factor if your college is far.

Virtual degree: An online degree offers you immense flexibility of time. If you are a working professional or have responsibilities towards your family, you can schedule classes as per your convenience. A virtual degree generally follows a weekly format. Assignments, classes, etc., have to be completed before the beginning of the following week.

As we can see both the education models have their own pros and cons. A person who wants to learn will learn irrespective of traditional or virtual course. The learner is no longer restricted by limited ways. The institutes too are now trying to be flexible. There is an emerging flavor of education that is being rapidly taken up by institutions. It is called blended learning, which combines traditional and virtual mode of learning. While some classes are taken in-person, others are conducted online. 

Even in online mode now the institutes are offering synchronous and asynchronous classes. Synchronous classes are live online classes while asynchronous are pre-recorded lectures. The pandemic has forced the academic world to re think and re-invent the ways of communicating with students. 

Irrespective of whether learning is taking place in traditional manner or virtual manner, the important thing is that learning should never stop.

(The author is director, SCMS Pune)