Sweat dripped onto the paper and a quick sweeping motion distorted freshly written words making them illegible. Whispered curses draw the attention of nearby students. The A/C is broken today and windows are propped open and the rattling of an old fan is making it difficult to make out what the teacher is saying. The sound of one student open-mouth-chewing in the back row is seemingly in rhythm with the nervous tapping of another student nearby. The professors words start to fade into the background and the words on the whiteboard blur out of focus as the minute hand nears the bottom of the hour. The rustling of books being hastily gathered in preparation for the end of class is like a queue and the professor issues nearly inaudible last minute instructions as the bell rings. Traditional classrooms such as this, boast structure and “greater sociality” but online schools are becoming increasingly popular…and for good reason. While the experience offered by traditional and virtual classrooms have differences such as cost, level of convenience, and social interaction, they also share similarities like distractions, student-teacher interaction, peer collaboration, and predetermined timelines.
One of the most significant differences between traditional and virtual schools is cost. Student savings are realized in many ways. There is no cost for transportation or office supplies but most significantly, there is not cost of relocation and in the case of students who live with their parents, there is no rent. These are significant savings for those who do not already live near the College or University of their choice. Not only is it cheaper for the student, but there are substantial savings for the school as well. Virtual libraries for example, require less maintenance and can store a plethora of selections in comparison to its brick-and-mortar counterpart. With schools that are offered exclusively online, the cost of real-estate and salaries are greatly reduced as well. In fact public schools spend twice as much as online schools for benefits and teacher salaries alone (Toch, 2010, p. 73).
Another distinction is the level of convenience provided. Traditional schools provide little convenience in contrast with virtual schools. A set time and place to participate compared to a relaxed whenever or wherever there is a connection, makes online course more appealing for people with busy schedules. Also, there is a certain amount of preparation required prior to attending a physical campus. Consider the time spent on personal hygiene and clothing or wasted in transit. Getting online while sitting on the sofa or logging in at the office requires no prep time and eliminates the need for transit. Ironically, the conveniences can also be a downfall for the student who falls prey to procrastination.
Although online schools can be convenient, the professional opinion is that students will miss out on the social and emotional development...