Traditional Versus Online Education: Is There Any Difference?

The evolution of society, the development of technologies, and the desire of humanity to make its life easier lead to new inventions in every sphere of people’s life. People change their culture, invent new products, and introduce new technologies to make their life as convenient as possible. As these changes relate to every sphere of social life, the field of education is not an exception. Thus, nowadays, traditional education is not the only form of education. One of the most popular types of education which exists besides traditional one is online education. Although these two types of education are equal considering their popularity and different in terms of the way of giving knowledge. Although these two types are popular all over the world, they cause a large number of controversial discussions considering their effectiveness.

It is evident that online education spreads very fast all over the world and becomes more popular every day. Nevertheless, it is controversial issue. Devotees of online education not only confirm that it is better than traditional one but they “view traditional classes as being unchangeable, inflexible, teacher-centered, and static” (Tucker, 2001). At the same time, adherents of traditional education confirm that online courses are not as effective as traditional classes. Nevertheless, each of these types of education has its advantages and disadvantages.

Discussing the issue of effectiveness of traditional and online education, one should take into consideration peculiarities of each of these types. Thus, talking about traditional education, one should understand that this type of education is the basis of education all over the world. Studying in a traditional way (at school, college, university), students get their certificates of state example. In contrast to traditional education, online one does not guarantee certificates for all online courses. The next difference which distinguishes these types is the way of their organization. Traditional education is aimed at teaching a group of people while online one is of personal type and this means that the course of study supposes to be for one person taking into consideration his/her abilities. Certainly, these differences are not the only ones; these types of education have other characteristics which distinguish them.

According to Steve Roussas (2006), online education is convenient for adults who have such obstacles for traditional education as lack of time, long distance, or family circumstances. In this case, online courses help adults to finish education or obtain different academic degrees. Nevertheless, online education is useful not only for adults. Nowadays, a lot of schools, colleges, and universities provide online lessons for some courses. One of the reasons for this occurrence can be to help disabled children get qualitative education. One more feature of online education is that a person can choose any courses s/he likes. The student can study philosophy, management, psychology, economy, i.e. any science s/he wants. In comparison, if a person studies in educational establishment, s/he gets knowledge from one specific academic field. S/he can study different subjects but they still will relate to one profession. Thus, one can make a conclusion that online education is more convenient than traditional one.

Nevertheless, as it was mentioned above, traditional education is a basis of educational system all over the world, and it also has its advantages. First of all, students who attend classes at schools, colleges, and universities do not lack social interaction (Smith, 2011). They make friends, observe the behavior of other people, note special aspects of interpersonal relationships, and understand the scheme of social relations which are the essential parts of people’s life. Moreover, a teacher in a classroom “can teach students many valuable lessons of life which can not be learned through technology” (Farris, 2012). Secondly, traditional education gives motivation for students to study better. Teacher as well as other students can make a person want to make his/her results better. The motivation can lie in the desire of a student not to be behind in his/her studies, and not to disappoint his/her teacher or parents. Regardless of the kind of motivation, it exists, while for student who takes online courses the only type of motivation is inner motivation, and if s/he does not have it, s/he will not be able to get profound knowledge.

Although both types of education – traditional and online have their advantages, they are not perfect. For example, online education lacks social interaction, demonstrative examples, student motivation, discipline which are peculiar to traditional one. Moreover, online teacher can not be sure that all assignments which are supposed to be done by his student are performed by him. In its turn, traditional lessons do not give freedom to study what a person wants, teacher in a classroom does not give enough attention to every student, and traditional education can be inaccessible for some people because of their health state or family circumstances.

Taking into consideration different views on the issue of traditional and online education, one can conclude that it is very controversial. Each type of education has its devotees and opponents; traditional education as well as online one has its advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless, both of them are popular nowadays. In spite of large number of discussions considering the issue about effectiveness of traditional and online education, these two types will exist for a long time. Praise or condemnation of different educational types will hardly solve the problem of their effectiveness. The only thing which can benefit people in this case is to take things as they are. In any circumstance, people are different and what is useful for one person can be harmful for another. It will be a wise decision for everyone to choose what is convenient for him/her without condemning the choice of others.


Farris, D. (2012). Benefits of education. New York, NY: Gilkie Publishing.

Roussas, S. (2006). The Effect of online education versus traditional education on employee productivity: A quantitative analysis within a high-tech company. Cambridge, UK: ProQuest.

Smith, N. (2011). In defense of the traditional classroom: An argument against the move to online classes. Retrieved from

Tucker, S. (2001). Distance education: Better, worse, or as good as traditional education? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 4(4). Retrieved from