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6 Differences Between Online Learning and Face-to-Face

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    6 Differences Between Online Learning and Face-to-Face

    6 Differences Between Online Learning and Face-to-Face

    While some students favor a traditional classroom with in-person lectures, chalkboards, and hardcover textbooks, this isn’t the case for everyone. Others prefer an emphasis on digital literacy, additional options for learning platforms, and differing communication styles — all of which you can find in an online learning environment.

    Understanding what differentiates virtual learning from traditional learning helps us recognize that students learn and thrive differently. By exploring options beyond the conventional classroom approach, we can tailor learning to various student needs and skill sets. Discover some of the biggest differences between online learning and face-to-face learning.

    Face-to-Face Education vs. Online Education

    From diverse classrooms to unique socialization opportunities, cyber school provides several benefits for students. Explore six comparisons between online and face-to-face education below.

    1. Emphasis on Digital Literacy

    Digital literacy is the ability to use and understand technology. As technology continues evolving and changing how people work and communicate, digital literacy programs become essential in K-12 programs. They equip children and teens with the skills necessary to use technology safely and responsibly.

    Traditional teaching methods typically involve textbooks, workbooks, recitation, and written tests. Digital literacy expands on print literacy by teaching students skills in internet safety, digital footprints, ethics of using online resources, cyberbullying, and other topics.

    Digital literacy courses can be simple — like learning to navigate a website, use social media, or send an email — or involve more complex skills like website coding or creating a blog. Whether it’s digital production, game-based learning, or cloud computing, digital literacy is vital for students to thrive in an ever-changing technological world.

    2. Diverse Classrooms

    Because it can integrate students and teachers from different parts of the state, country, and world, online learning provides greater opportunities for diverse classrooms. This encourages better cultural understanding, new experiences, and more open-mindedness among peers.

    Students bring various skills and interests to the classroom. Building an online curriculum that refines these current skills — and helps students learn new ones — can foster a more integrated learning environment. These skills help prepare students for college and future careers as they learn to thrive in a diverse workplace.

    Differing Communication Styles

    3. Differing Communication Styles

    Most teachers can agree that communication is a vital skill in the classroom, regardless of the type of learning environment. Online learning teaches students how to communicate and collaborate virtually. Asynchronous discussions can occur in chats, forums, and emails, while video meetings integrate synchronous conversation. Additionally, online learning reinforces different communication styles and platforms.

    Here are three ways online learning can improve virtual communication skills:

    1. Virtual group projects: Effective virtual collaboration is an essential skill in today’s workforce, making virtual group projects a helpful way to prepare for future careers. Students can learn the importance of teamwork by practicing skills like designating roles and responsibilities, time management, productivity, and meeting deadlines. They also learn how to build trust and patience within their workgroup.
    2. Video conferences: Professional video conferencing habits encourage students to attend virtual meetings the way they would if they were in person. Rather than attending class from bed, in their pajamas, or outside, professional meetings require sitting at a table or desk and dressing in appropriate attire. Virtual meeting skills help students build better habits for their future careers.
    3. Written critiques: In an online course, students may be asked to post or email a critique of someone else’s work, like a paper or presentation. Constructive feedback encourages the ability to communicate respectfully, concisely, and professionally. Students can also use this feedback to improve future projects and assignments.

    4. Unique Social Opportunities

    A common misconception about online learning is that students don’t have the same opportunities for socialization as they would in a physical classroom. The truth is that online learning can provide various socialization opportunities for students, such as:

    • Field trips: Through educational and social field trips, students can participate in hands-on activities that reinforce lessons learned in the virtual classroom.
    • Extracurricular activities and clubs: Whether a student is passionate about art, science, sports, or literature, extracurricular activities and clubs allow students to pursue these interests and meet new people.
    • Mobile classrooms: A mobile classroom is a classroom on wheels, usually equipped with basic learning equipment like computers, books, whiteboards, and science labs. Mobile classrooms can help build new connections among students and families, enhancing online school socialization.

    5. New Learning Platforms

    Online education integrates several learning platforms, exploring digital resources that expand beyond the conventional hardcover book format. Students can experience technology-based learning through laptops, cloud and collaborative computing, and smartphones.

    Additionally, these new learning platforms offer more opportunities for customization. Every student learns and grows differently, meaning not everyone will benefit from the traditional chalkboard learning approach. A personalized education program allows cyber students to embrace their preferred learning method, paving the way for academic and career success.

    6. Purposeful Feedback

    We mentioned briefly that online students can build communication skills through written critiques. A significant advantage of online learning is that students can receive immediate feedback from their instructors.

    Instead of waiting days or weeks after exams and projects — as students often do in traditional classrooms — teachers review online coursework and submit feedback electronically, sometimes right away. Online feedback is a faster and more convenient way to provide constructive criticism on assignments. Receiving this feedback sooner allows students to learn faster and adjust for future projects.

    Students often depend more on feedback and assignment clarification from teachers when learning online. This makes virtual feedback more purposeful, detailed, and meaningful. For instance, face-to-face teachers see their students regularly and can pull them aside at any moment for a discussion. Meanwhile, online instructors typically schedule meetings or provide detailed written feedback to ensure there are no miscommunications.

    Embrace Online Learning With CCA

    Embrace Online Learning With CCA

    Knowing the differences between face-to-face and online learning helps you understand how your child can thrive in a cyber school program. At Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA), our personalized education program offers many benefits for K-12 students, including flexible scheduling, socialization opportunities, and advanced learning platforms.

    When you enroll, CCA will equip your student with the tools they need to succeed in our online learning environment, including the use of a free laptop, printer, second monitor, and an internet service subsidy. We also provide ongoing technical support and family mentors to help students and parents navigate the digital learning world.

    To learn more about how your child can thrive at CCA, contact us today.


    Commonwealth Charter Academy


    October 18th, 2023


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