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Classroom and online learning preferences

Which of the following would you prefer?

Poll closed Jan 24, 2010.
  1. a traditional classroom course

    8 vote(s)
  2. a completely online course

    1 vote(s)
  3. a traditional classroom course with some online enhancements

    18 vote(s)
  4. depends on the subject

    3 vote(s)
  5. none of the above/other

    2 vote(s)
  1. Jan 10, 2010 #1

    Math Is Hard

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    I'm seeking some basic survey info about learning preferences. Of the following, which would you rather take?

    1) a traditional classroom course
    2) a completely online course
    3) a traditional classroom course with some online enhancements (ex. lecture podcasts, interactive demonstrations, practice quizzes)
    4) depends on the subject
    5) none of the above/other

    I'm curious to know how PF'ers view this, and I am very happy to hear any specific comments about the options.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 10, 2010 #2
    Most of my graduate classes are filmed and uploaded to blackboard. I think this is best because I dont have to take notes in class, and I can watch anything over again whenever I want. I think taking notes in class is useless at the graduate level.
  4. Jan 10, 2010 #3
    Full classroom.

    Most of the average students at the CC I go to will take online composition one and fail it because they wait until the end of the semester to do their papers.

    Also having a teacher to ask questions while the lecture is going on, and be able to interact with other students I find is 10 times better than an online class.
  5. Jan 10, 2010 #4

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    Thanks, Cyrus. Something I had not thought about was the difference in preferences between people taking undergrad vs. graduate level courses.

    I have sort of a bias toward attending classes in person - I like being able to ask questions when they come up, but I have been very grateful for teachers who podcast during flu season. :)
  6. Jan 10, 2010 #5

    Math Is Hard

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    Do you think there's an expectation that online classes will be easier? (hence, the procrastinators choosing it thinking they can bang out a lame paper at last minute)
  7. Jan 10, 2010 #6

    Exactly, that is what most kids think when taking these types of classes. "oh it is online I dont have to go to class or anything and just write essays!" Well they get the
    "It's just an essay, I can do it next week" mentality sets in and just piles up and up.

    For the smarter students (like every person on PF.com) an online class would be no problem because we like to stay up on things, but for your average joe/jane, an online class is an easy way out from having to show up for 50 minutes.
  8. Jan 10, 2010 #7
    When I work full time, I prefer online courses. For the last course I took, we were provided the book name we had to buy and the material we were required to know. It was flexible and we had two midterms and one final exam. It was very cheap. More expensive online course from my university have flash slides where the professor explains what is on the slide.

    When I at school, I prefer traditional classroom with online material such that I can see assignments, assignment solutions, lectures online. It is always hard to understand material when professors just read the slides.
  9. Jan 10, 2010 #8
    I have a semi-hard time with full online classes, although they are very convenient. Once I see all of the work, even it's for the entire semester, I tend to get overwhelmed for some reason.

    My best is full classroom with some online stuff. Mainly because once studying and homework are done, I like to still play around with extra stuff for fun. Right now I usually use the homework section for my online portion of my classes. :)
  10. Jan 11, 2010 #9
    Interesting question.

    "a traditional classroom course with some online enhancements (ex. lecture podcasts, interactive demonstrations, practice quizzes)"

    It may be more convenient as an online class, however I feel I get more out of it if it's in class (especially if it's something I'm interested in). At the same time, it also sounds more interesting when it's variety (both class and Internet).

    Also something to consider, they've done studies where they find learning through a variety of mediums help you understand the concepts better. Just like in the medical field where they have a control and experimental group, they do the same with learning and find the experimental group (variety of mediums) learn the concepts better than the control group (only learn through one book/medium). By learn the concepts better, they mean how good they are at generalizing and how flexible they can work with them.

    A way to think of this is when you read a book, you relate to thing you already know to help you understand. Also by relating to other disciplines it can help you get a bigger picture. So transferring over this concept, by learning a subject through a variety of means may help you grasp the concept better than just learning from one means (so I would think mixing it with both in class and online enhancements would be best for concepts, even if it means details going in directions).
  11. Jan 11, 2010 #10
    I've had 'em all, and prefer the mixed bag. It just makes doing and turning in homework that much easier, and frees up class time for better discussion of the material being covered.

    My two cents...
  12. Jan 11, 2010 #11


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    My preference would be for traditional classroom experience, with online supplements. That's what I offer my students, and wish I had it when I was a student. Just the ability to listen to a lecture a second time (or scan through it just to a missed section) is great, but I do prefer the interaction of having a live person stand in front of me the first time to demonstrate. We also supplement our anatomy course with online video demonstrations and virtual patients. The videos let students see things like what a particular neuromuscular deficit would look like in terms of actual function, which is very difficult to demonstrate live in our lecture halls because of their configuration (i.e., once you're sitting further back than about the 4th or 5th row, it's difficult to see the instructor at the front of the room who looks like they've just arrived from the ministry of funny walks). The virtual patients let them apply the lessons learned to clinical scenarios and provide self-tests of their understanding. I used to hate those, because they looked very cartoony, but the person developing them has been getting better at it and they are looking much more professional now.

    Of course, for the lab, nothing replaces the hands-on experience. There are things you really just can't see easily in pictures and need to really get your hands on it and sometimes even feel where it's going rather than see.
  13. Jan 12, 2010 #12


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    It has to have a traditional classroom component. I need a social life, for one thing, and I like class.

    There's other benefits, as well. Working together or helping each other on parts where a person is stuck helps master the class. And, as much grief as group projects can cause for your more generic classes, group projects work out pretty well when you're working with the same people over and over.

    I keep thinking there's online supplements that could really help a class. In practice, most have been a minor addition to the class. An online gathering place for the class at least helps smooth things out for group projects (especially when most of the students have full time day jobs and getting together physically becomes very difficult).
  14. Jan 12, 2010 #13
    One of the classes I am in now, Modern European History 2, is a 4 credit, 3 day in class, 1 day online class, class.(?) It is a completely paperless class, so any homework assigned is put on the classes specific Desire2Learn page, you can download the assignments and turn them in all in one simple form, without ever having to print it out!

    There are also each week an online discussion where the teacher posts a question and we state our own opinions and reply to others as an assignment. It is pretty cool to learn what other peoples viewpoints on different topics are!

    The time in the classroom is purely dedicated to learning the current chapter, and asking any questions if need be, so the 50 minutes is used more efficiently without the 5 minutes needed to pass out papers and make sure everyone has what they need.
  15. Jan 12, 2010 #14


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    Those are great if you ever have a class that likes online discussions.

    I love the criteria for those type of assignments: make at least one reply to the posted question (or one of the posted questions if more than one) and reply to at least 3 other people's replies before the start of class next week (5:30 Thursday).

    At 4:30 Thursday, 2 people of out of a 30 person class will have replied to the instructor's question. At 5:15 a flurry of people will finally reply to the instructor's question followed by replies of, "I agree".

    They just never seem to work out as well as you'd think they would.

    Of course, at 5:25, I make three replies illustrating why the poster had to be an idiot to make the original reply he did, and, thanks to my superior logic and debating skills, the poster is always at a loss for words. Fortunately, 96.3% of the students are so apathetic that they don't go back and read any of the replies after class, so I never get my butt kicked in.
  16. Jan 12, 2010 #15
    I tried to teach myself quite a few things I later received live lectures on. I have no doubts that there is nothing as efficient as a traditional lecture. There are many communication details that can not be included in another form of material. The tone of the voice, movements of the body, facial expressions, everything helps to fully grasp somebody else's experience.
  17. Jan 21, 2010 #16


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  18. Jan 21, 2010 #17


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    Having a daughter that just started at the University hoping to get a degree in Physics, I was shocked to see that so much is done online now days. So my vote will be biased since I'm old. Class room only IMO. How can you learn physics without working problems with pencil and paper?
  19. Jan 21, 2010 #18
    With a virtual pencil and virtual paper of course :tongue2:
    For now it seems classroom + some online material is the optimal choice though this may change as online content increases and as communication technologies advance. I'd say it would be at least a decade before pure online courses are even recommendable.
  20. Jan 21, 2010 #19
    I've taken traditional courses, hybrid courses, and fully online courses. I was tempted to vote for the hybridized option, but in my experience teachers just use the ease of online homework with automatic grading to pile on gratuitous amounts of worthless assignments that they would normally never be able to grade. When your pressed for time having to deal with tonnes of online work from multiple different classes can be quite overwhelming. The website interfaces are often unwieldy and slow, which only adds to the frustration.

    As far as taping or recording lectures, and making grades accessible in real-time; I think that is great, just so long as you don't have to do actual graded work on the computer.
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