Online Vs. Blended Learning Courses: Which Are Right For You?

Online Vs. Blended Learning Courses: Which Are Right For You?
Summary: As you begin the journey of creating your own course, you are likely focused on the content more than anything. Once it comes time to launch, however, the real decisions need to be made.

Online Vs. Blended Learning Courses: Advantages And Disadvantages

Should you launch your course as an online-only option? Or should you choose a blended course, where students spend part of their class time in an actual classroom? The answer is, it depends on your course and your students. To explore the online vs. blended learning courses dilemma, keep the following in mind:

Online Courses: Pros And Cons

Online courses may be entirely automated, or they may involve teacher interaction online. However, the main thing is that the class is entirely online.

Pros Of This Method

  • Flexibility.
    Students appreciate the ability to work around their own schedules. An online class allows them to fit learning in between their day jobs and home life, so they can continue earning money while studying.
  • Ease of timing.
    When a student requires more time to complete a project in university, this can present a problem with scheduling. Often, the student will just fall behind. With online classes, it is simpler for a lagging student to learn on their own time and reach the end of the class without difficulty.
  • Location-free.
    Students around the world can take part in an online course, so it is possible for someone to travel to Bali while studying or to take part in the online lessons from Australia. This ability opens up plenty of doors to those interested in keeping the learning going on the road.

Of course, there are also downsides to this type of learning.

Cons Of This Method

  • Lack of motivation.
    It can be difficult to self-motivated enough to complete an entire course online. For some students, it’s necessary to have another level of accountability when studying and online courses don’t provide that. It’s not unusual for a very small percentage of students to complete their online course.
  • Loneliness.
    There is certainly a social aspect in learning with a class. Some online courses do an excellent job of making it possible for students to interact with classmates online, but it’s not quite the same as meeting them in person.

Students Who Will Benefit Most From An Online Course

  • International or students outside the immediate area.
  • Those who work or care for family members.
  • Anyone who needs a flexible schedule.
  • Students who have mobility issues.
  • Students trying to save money on transport.
  • Non-traditional students.

For classes that include all information in video or text format, it’s possible to present the entire course online, reaching a wider audience and making it possible for more students to attend.

Blended Courses: Pros And Cons

Blended or hybrid courses allow students to do the majority of the work online, but they do require some training to take place in person. The real life classes may take place on a university campus or anywhere that is suitable for it.

Pros Of This Method

  • Reduced campus time.
    Students with other responsibilities can limit their in-class time to a reasonable number of appearances. The limited class time means more people can attend class, because of the flexibility.
  • Hands-on learning opportunities.
    Certain courses require actual hands on experience. For example, biology or chemistry classes where experiments are conducted will need to have lab space. Field trips and visits to industry specific events or even a lecture by a guest speaker can be important for real life learning, as well.
  • Social environment.
    Don’t underestimate the value of networking and interaction between students and teachers. This is much easier when done in person, rather than online in a forum or on a Facebook page. You never know when one of your students might turn out to be a valuable connection in the future and it’s a good idea to make that connection in person.

Cons Of This Method

  • Scheduling factors.
    It can be difficult to set up a schedule that works for everyone and some students may need to ask for time off work in order to attend their classes.
  • Location.
    Students outside of the immediate area will not be able to take the class, as they wouldn’t be able to make it to the actual location. This severely limits who can take the course.

Students Who Will Benefit Most From A Blended Course

  • Local students.
  • Students wishing to learn a skill that involves hands-on experience.
  • Students with time to attend a scheduled class.
  • Traditional students.
  • Students who learn better with some accountability.
  • Courses that require some form of human interaction will usually need to include at least a few in-person classes and will do best as blended courses.

Final Word

Both course methods can be quite successful, but you’ll need to make a decision before launching your course. Which will choice work best for your particular course? Keep in mind that online learning can be just as academic as blended. Students still need to know how to write an academic essay, study, and research with both methods, as well as more traditional learning.