Choosing online versus brick & mortar and hoping to gain a quality education

Issue 1:  Choosing online versus brick & mortar and hoping to gain a quality education 

By Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Coronavirus may give more students a greater desire for online education as there have been school closures and a global pandemic.  Online schools also present, “at your fingertips” mode of study that includes one’s home library, which could benefit different fields like writing education. However, online schools lack peer groups, peer-related critiques and peer influences may be less present.  Online schools may be better for certain fields that require less lab or studio or in-person engagement.  Online education sometimes lacks books with greater reliance on the online learning environment; therefore, less reference material for later study after the course is completed.  When planning to teach, perhaps a teacher encounters the same choices a student does, whether to train for the online environment or the brick and mortar.  Students, in the chosen field of writing, may have enjoyed a brick and mortar’s small roundtable teaching methods that included regular direct peer review. Both students and teachers will inevitably make a similar choice whether or not to engage in online or brick and mortar teaching or study. Training may be so vastly different, that a student who desires to be a teacher needs to make training choices early in their career.

Issue 2:  What impacts the changing education dynamics in an online school versus brick & mortar?

Online students may advance quicker in their careers, due to degrees they were able to finish quicker with differing “term structure.”  Online schools level the playing field for marginalized people and include vast numbers of workers, single parents, military, mature and disabled students. Working at one’s own pace and on one’s own time with needed support may present students with an “ideal” in an online environment that is not as present in a brick and mortar. Conversely, brick and mortar may present more opportunities for career development and how to excel in one’s education and field with student group meetings, dean’s list, honor rolls, awards, study abroad, conferences, and networking. Brick and mortar are presented with local and regional issues sometimes with international student bodies, where online may be national with disconnected or having less local attention.  What that means to a student body is a city or state or country may also have opportunities to offer a student.  Online students may lack work experience and have few opportunities in their local community coming directly from their university.  Teachers may feel more disconnected from online students and students eventually need references from teachers. As technology has progressed, so have work environments and education environments.  Many companies offer complete virtual platforms using VPN’s and virtual call centers, databases and also new opportunities for teachers of training modules for virtual companies. Virtual companies are pulling teachers from a variety of teaching backgrounds to enter high paid roles as trainers in online or virtual environments. The training methods that virtual companies are using are so well developed that this overlap may present a juncture that online schools may utilize to develop along similar lines.

Works cited:

“Online Education,” Jan. 2, 2019, Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, a Cengage Company

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