Tech is constantly bringing us all together. From Skype and FaceTime to instant-messaging services and social media, there are so many ways to communicate that just require a strong Wi-Fi connection and a decent laptop. With so many ways to connect with people in other parts of the country and beyond, the world really is smaller. But when it comes to further education, is it better to use this tech to be taught online or are more traditional studies better? If you can’t decide between taking up that online course or enrolling on one at the local college, here’s a look at the pros and cons of both styles of education to help you decide.


What’s the difference?

Before you can decide on what type of education suits you, it’s worth looking at what sets the two apart:

• Flexibility


This is potentially one of the biggest reasons why you’re considering an online course. If you’re working full-time or you have other commitments, learning online can help you to fit your studies around your daily life. By their nature, the course documents and teachings can be accessed at a time that suits you. Plus, they tend to offer open-ended deadlines to allow the students to work at a pace that slots into their busy schedules. Traditional courses, on the other hand, are better suited to those with little in the way of commitments during the working week. These have set timetables and require students to be present for lectures and tuition sessions. This can be beneficial for those who are seeking a structure to their studies. If you want to have somewhere to be at a certain time, traditional studies could be a great fit for you.

• Motivation


Working from home on your studies offers an abundance of flexible learning opportunities, but it can be easy to lose focus and procrastinate. Without having people in the room to motivate you, the desire to learn can fade and the course can take time to complete. By sitting in a classroom, it’s not so easy to lose sight of the end goal. There are set deadlines to meet and an end date in sight, so you have to fit with the schedule and keep up.

• Interaction with others


Traditional courses are brilliant for offering the opportunity to interact with the tutor, as well as your fellow course mates. You tend to sit in one room and discuss the intricacies of the text you’re reading or the experiment you’re working on with others and this offers the benefits of providing instant inspiration and ideas. With an online course, although it’s possible to dial into a multi-way call with your fellow classmates, there’s a chance that some of the interaction that exists with traditional courses is lost. For example, if you send an instant message to the group, the tone you’re trying to convey can be easily lost. On the other hand, by being able to send your own input to the group, you can add to the conversation and have a record of it on your computer. Similarly, while you get written notes when working online, traditional learning means you can interact with your teacher or mentor in person. This, in turn, is likely to help keep you motivated.

• Cost


Tuition fees for any course can be expensive, and it’s important to plan your finances wisely before you commit to any type of studying. However, some institutions charge more for your face-to-face time with lecturers and for access to their facilities, such as labs or libraries. Online accreditations often come with a discount because you are just paying for access to the information and electronic communication with the tutor.

What next?

Take your time to weigh up the pros and cons and decide what suits you and your family. Whether working online is better for you or you prefer the set timetable of traditional learning, there’s a course out there for you.