The recent events made virtual learning practically the only alternative, which exacerbated the argument on whether it or the traditional model is superior. The latter has existed for centuries, and its advantages and challenges are well-studied. Meanwhile, for many students and teachers alike, Zoom and other platforms were novel, and they had to navigate in that unknown environment. It could be said that the shift towards virtual learning was slowly happening, but the quarantine made the process abrupt and mandatory, exposing numerous disadvantages. While both models have their strengths, comparing them using such aspects as socialization, student performance, and accessibility will help determine which one is more beneficial for learners.
Socialization is an important process that has always been the school’s responsibility. Traditional classrooms provide numerous opportunities for socialization during classes and in their free time when students share knowledge and ideas in real-time while seeing each other in person (Adnan and Anwar 46). On the other hand, it became difficult to socialize under online learning, and some could not properly participate in group projects (Adnan and Anwar 49). An educator has to apply engagement strategies to a greater extent than in offline classes to ensure that students communicate among themselves, although they also want constant feedback from the teacher (Martin and Bolliger 218). Incidentally, socialization with the instructor as far as traditional teaching is concerned is also essential (Adnan and Anwar 46). Altogether, socialization is possible under both models, although it is hindered with virtual learning and requires compensating measures.
Student performance remains a significant factor when assessing a model’s efficiency. Paul and Jefferson demonstrate that face-to-face learning has no advantage over virtual one as far as non-STEM subjects are concerned, although the latter proved less satisfactory according to the students (7). However, the same might not be true for Science due to the laboratory component being more realized under the traditional model (Paul and Jefferson 8). Generally, student performance is not where issues while contrasting the two occur contrary to popular belief.
Accessibility in education has several meanings, from being able to attend a private school to special needs students. Traditional learning has a public/private divide associated with quality and future opportunities, creating disadvantages for certain demographics (Saiger 306, 307). In contrast, virtual learning removes such aspects as bundling, community, and localism, which are responsible for maintaining the status quo, and makes learners relatively equal (Saiger 306). Another understanding of accessibility is the ability to attend classes, which is achieved in traditional education through school buses, whereas not everyone has the means to access the Internet (Sims 5). Lastly, both models can accommodate special needs learners, but some may find it convenient to remain at home, while those requiring hands-on instruction will struggle to study online (Sims 7). Regardless, virtual learning is, for the most part, accessible to those with disabilities (Sims 7). Overall, the two models have accessibility issues depending on its definition, but they can be resolved for students’ sake.
In conclusion, traditional and virtual learning types are legitimate models of instructions that can yield sufficient student outcomes. The former’s weaknesses are rooted in accessibility issues, which present challenges for disadvantaged groups, but it largely remains beneficial for socialization and STEM-subject. The latter is flawed in those spheres, although the virtual environment can offer new tools to tackle old problems and erase elitism in education. On the whole, traditional learning has an edge, but a perfect alternative would be combining the two instead of solely relying on one of them.
Adnan, Muhammad, and Kainat Anwar. “Online Learning amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Students’ Perspectives.” Journal of Pedagogical Sociology and Psychology, vol. 2, no. 1, 2020, pp. 45-51. ERIC, Web.
Martin, Florence, and Doris U. Bolliger. “Engagement Matters: Student Perceptions on the Importance of Engagement Strategies in the Online Learning Environment.” Online Learning, vol. 22, no. 1, 2018, pp. 205-222. ERIC, Web.
Paul, Jasmine, and Felicia Jefferson. “A Comparative Analysis of Student Performance in an Online vs. Face-to-Face Environmental Science Course from 2009 to 2016.” Frontiers in Computer Science, vol. 1, no. 7, 2019, pp. 1-9. Frontiers, Web.
Sims, Lisa. Effective Digital Learning: Transforming Traditional Learning Models to a Virtual World. Apress, 2021.
Saiger, Aaron. “Homeschooling, Virtual Learning, and the Eroding Public/Private Binary.” Journal of School Choice, vol. 10, no. 3., 2016, pp. 297–319. Taylor and Francis Online, Web.