The differences between online learning and traditional learning can be found by analyzing the key players and how technology and the internet have transformed their roles.

Online Learning and Traditional Learning

There are many points of view that clearly demonstrate the differences between these two models that are coexisting at the moment. For example, this infographic from School of Business D’Amore-McKim Northeastern University (U.S.A.) compares online learning and traditional learning and shows statistics such as the number of students enrolled, the most popular degrees and the percentage of students who believe online learning is as good as traditional learning. Analyzing the role that each party has in traditional learning and how each has completely changed with the rise of online learning methods is undoubtedly one of the most interesting aspects.


Role analysis: online learning and traditional learning

Teachers, students, content, media, access and assessments can vary drastically when it comes to online learning and traditional learning.


#1 Teachers

They switch from being transmitters of knowledge to being advisors, mediators and motivators. The traditional types of classes where teachers give lectures shifts to teachers acting more as counselors. They are still responsible for leading the way, but communication is more bidirectional than ever.


#2 Students

The passive attitude of traditional teaching has evolved into active and engaging. They have moved from a listening model—where students listen to teachers give lectures and take notes—to a model that focuses on participation, research and practice.


#3 Content

Audiovisual media and interactive resources define online education as opposed to hard-copy teaching materials. Due to its characteristics, it allows for more engagement and immersion and also keeps students motivated.


#4 Medium

Educational platforms allow the students themselves to decide how they manage their study time, creating their own schedules based around their responsibilities and free time. The traditional system is based on fixed schedules where students and teachers must coincide in a physical space. Online learning has many solutions to break this rigidity, such as face-to-face online classes through virtual classrooms (VCR).


#5 Access

100% online learning makes access to education even easier since people are no longer restricted to a certain location. Before e-learning became popular, many students had to make an effort to travel to the location of their classes or give up studying altogether. Universities are a clear example of the travel required to study (distance to cities, course offerings, grades). Also in regards to language, course offerings are reduced to only the languages available in nearby schools. With online learning, anybody can study their desired degree from any country, and in their preferred language.


#6 Assessment

One of the most time-consuming activities for teachers used to be correcting tests. With the use of platforms and automated assessments, the group’s progress is monitored in real time, saving teachers time that can be used for other activities. Students receive feedback almost immediately.

The rise of online learning

With these features, it is not surprising that online learning is booming. Despite the influence that the traditional face-to-face model still exerts, e-learning is gaining favor among students because of the ability to create flexible schedules. But also schools, organizations and companies are favoring e-learning due to all the valuable information it provides and the time it saves by going digital in the classroom.

Traditionally, the only way to measure student progress was to have them take tests and spend hours correcting them, but now online learning uses educational platforms, also known as an LMS (Learning Management System), which are capable of continually monitoring the progress of each student and group. This is just one of the advantages.

As we have seen, online learning changes the roles of teachers and students who must now adapt to a far more dynamic and hands-on environment where participation is vital. Because of its qualities, this teaching method has become one of the main preferences for new generations.


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