By Samantha Rathbun
With society entering a technological age, students at Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) are being faced with a difficult choice: obtaining their education on campus in the traditional manner or online in the comfort of their own homes.
William Berry, a 4Cs professor who has been teaching online and in class for over ten years, discussed his experiences with teaching in face-to-face as well as online. When comparing the two the two seem to have strikingly more similarities than differences.
“Sometimes my online students will do better than my face-to-face students and I think that’s because of the quality of the student who engages an online course. They’re aware that it’s more independent,” Berry said.
When signing up for an online course, the student must recognize that there are noticeable differences between the two.
“Someone may take an online course thinking it’s going to be easy,” Berry said. “They find out that there are due dates and deadlines and the course is paced and they have to be more engaged with their other peers that are also online and they collapse under the weight of it all.”
Many concerns about online learning revolve around the myth that the student will have little to no contact with the professor.
“I can have very rich connections with students online, more so, sometimes than in-class students,” Berry said. “The relationships really aren’t more or less, they’re different because they’re different contexts.”
Both online and face-to-face learning have different contexts as Berry described, therefore it is hard to compare the two if the student has never experienced the aspects that an online course entails.
Berry believes students do not learn more or less from either attending class or learning online.
“The practice and acquiring of the skills is, I would argue, pretty much the same face-to-face or online,” Berry said.
Jessica Ashe, a student at 4Cs who has taken both online and face-to-face classes, stated her views on these two types of learning.
“Online classes take up a lot of free time, [are] less interactive, [are] nearly impossible to ask questions without emailing the professor, and the class becomes less interesting since it is all reading from textbooks and handouts,” Ashe said.
But on the other hand, online classes can be considered “more relaxing” as all work, tests included, are open book.
Although Ashe has taken a few online classes, she overall prefers face-to-face learning.
“It allows one to figure out what the professor is emphasizing, and if it is needed, one could ask for clarification,” Ashe said.
However, both Berry and Ashe believe that the outcome of a class does not necessarily depend on it being face-to-face or online, but rather it is dependent on the type of student taking the class and how they decide to apply themselves in order to learn and retain the material for future courses.