What is the Difference in an Online College Degree as Opposed to a Brick-and-Mortar College Degree?

What is the Difference in an Online College Degree as Opposed to a Brick-and-Mortar College Degree?

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The past two decades have seen an almost exponential rise in the availability and popularity of online college classes and degree programs. Their pervasiveness begs the question as to the difference in a credit or degree earned in an online setting versus that of the traditional classroom. These two educational delivery systems will be compared from the perspectives of flexibility, the student experience, the impact of technology, and the issue of acceptability of online classes and degree programs.
One of the major advantages of an online degree program is the flexibility it provides to someone working a demanding job, living geographically removed from a college campus, or that simply finds it most convenient for a host of other reasons. These challenges of the modern workforce have in fact been the big driver behind the exponential rise in online degree programs over the past decade. Furthermore, the flexibility provided by an online degree program enables tailoring a program matched to personal learning style and pace.
An area of great contrast between the two forms of education regards the student experience. For example, students may enjoy taking tests or listening to lectures in the comfort of their own home. However, this poses a major disadvantage of not being able to ask questions as they naturally arise. An online student may have to wait around for their instructor to respond to an email, whereas being present in a classroom permits questions to be asked and answered on the spot. Another advantage of attending a brick-and-mortar college is having access to classmates for study groups or help with homework. After reading several students opinions on their online classes, I have come to realize the overall expe...


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Haynie, Devon. “What Employers Really Think About Your Online Bachelor’s Degree.” Daily News. U.S. News and World Report, July 31, 2013. Web. 2 April 2014.

LaPairie, Kimberly and Janice M. Hinson. “Trading Spaces: Transferring Face-to-Face courses to the Online Environment.” Journal of Interactive Instruction Development 18.1 (2005): 3-8. Education Research Complete. Web. 2 April 2014.

Phillips, Vicky. “5 Things Real Students Hate About Online Learning Degrees.” Get Educated. Word Press, August 6, 2012. Web. 2 April 2014.


Pearcy, Mark. “Student, Teacher, Professor: Three Perspectives on Online Education.” History Teacher 27.2 (2014): 169-185. Education Research Complete. Web. 2 April 2014.


Sambenedetto, Megan. Personal Interview. 3 April 2014.

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