Why students prefer taught classes rather than online learningChen Wan Lim
In the age where the internet is a dominant tool in almost everything that we do, it is quite common these days to have some sort of interaction via the internet for lectures, tutorials and course activities. In the case of distant learnings, the online factor is the main medium for conducting classes and tutorials, requiring very minimal physical participation from the students. But before you throw out your two-kilogramme textbook and replace it with a PDF copy of the course notes, here are some reasons why students still prefer the traditionally taught classes as compared with online learnings:
Interpersonal skill development
Courses that are conducted online require very minimal to almost no face-to-face interactions with the lecturers and classmates. Online courses post lecture videos, lecture notes, tutorials and tests online and those can be completed at the leisure of the student. Classroom discussions for online courses are almost non-existent and communication is almost always just one way. However, traditionally taught classes to require full student participation to answer questions, give presentations, elaborate personal opinions and to basically be part of the class. Group works are also required where assignments and tasks are to be submitted in groups. All these enhance a student’s interpersonal and social skills which are what employers today are seeking – soft skills.
For postgraduate courses such as the MBA programme, the course structure and knowledge is perhaps just another piece of the entire package. One of the main goals of students undergoing the MBA programme is to network. The friends, course mates and lecturers that students meet will prove to be an asset one day. Traditionally taught classes often have gatherings, outings, special appearances by industry leaders and discussion sessions which are all geared towards the aim of building networks.
The main selling point of online courses is the ability to complete the course in the comfort of your home and at your own steady pace. While a student’s self-motivation will need to be strong to complete a course with minimal supervision, traditionally taught classes to instil discipline and time management skills in its students. This is especially so when students undertake part time courses while holding a full-time job. At the completion of the course, the satisfaction of juggling work and study will be a key factor of displaying a candidate’s ability to plan and manage time.
Wholesome learning process
It is true that both the traditionally taught classes and online classes essentially award the candidates with a degree. Putting aside the fact that online courses are currently not recognised in Malaysia, are the teachings and learning experiences the same for both? The answer is clearly not. Traditionally taught classes to involve explaining facts, discussions about topics, disagreements with views, constructive criticism from lecturers and peers which motivate students to pursue the quests for knowledge whereas online classes are often conducted without interaction. Also, traditionally taught classes to teach students to think and perform under the constraint of time and pressure – which is what the real world is all about.