The term “online” refers to a condition of connectivity and “offline” refers to a condition of disconnection. Being online means either that the system or component is online or that it’s ready for immediate use. Being offline simply means that it can’t be accessed through the Internet. In most cases, you won’t notice a difference between the two states; however, when you’re connecting to a data network or intranet, the difference in quality and reliability is obvious. So what are some of the differences between online and offline?
Perhaps the biggest difference between online classes and traditional ones is the speed at which information is provided to and taken from a student. Traditional classes may take several weeks, months, or even years to complete. Online learning takes only a matter of days or weeks. This is largely because there is no need for any long-term infrastructure to support the online classes. With an average internet connection, online students prospective students have access to the same course material from their personal computers as if they were attending class in the classroom.
Another big difference between online schools and traditional ones is the format in which they’re administered. Traditional face-to-face classes are more direct, with instructors and students exchanging information in person. Online learning, on the other hand, involves some facilitation but is still fairly direct. Instructors and students communicate through instant messaging, email, instant messages, and chat rooms. Although most online schools have developed systems that allow them to track and log virtually all of an online student’s interaction, it’s still relatively easy to send an email to another student, for instance, and obtain a response. In face-to-face classes, on the other hand, the exchange of information is much more direct.
There are also other differences that online learners and professionals alike have noted. Online college courses tend to require less course credit and typically carry less coursework than traditional college classes. That means online learners may need more tutoring or specialized instruction in a subject or topic area. Students also may need to be self-directed, meaning that they must be able to set their own goals and keep themselves on track. Online learners also may need to take more frequent exams or have additional tests to keep up their progress.
Perhaps one of the biggest differences between traditional face-to-face courses and online education is that traditional courses provide a physical location and students can go to class on a regular basis. Most people who are taking traditional classes will live within commuting distance to the college, so there’s no need to drive back and forth. With online education, however, it can be difficult to attend to classes at times that fall within the span of the day. Many online colleges offer online courses, but they don’t always offer regular classes. In this case, it might make more sense to find a local community college that offers the course you want to take.
Overall, it’s up to the student to decide whether they’re comfortable with the pace of online courses, the lack of onsite attendance, the lack of a face-to-face instructor, or some combination of those factors. Of course, most online professional development courses delivered via the Internet require you to be computer savvy and capable of completing a variety of tasks, such as filling out forms, responding to email, and reading text. However, there are many benefits to taking online courses and for many people, they’re just more convenient.