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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Online vs. Classroom-based Learning: What are Students Saying about their Experiences?

Hilary Bertsch.

With the increases in online courses and programs, there is still little information from online students about how they are learning, participating, and interacting with the materials, students, and instructor in an online learning environment. Online learning is changing the way schools, faculty and students think about their roles and their futures in education. It is important to recognize that online learning is different from classroom-based learning in more ways than in its delivery mode. Knowing how these differences are perceived by the students is key to designing and delivering quality online learning products.

This presentation will highlight the results of a recent study that explored the different experiences that students perceived between their online and classroom-based college level courses. The study also looked at how gender, GPA, age, academic history and employment status altered a student?s perception.

The results of this study indicated that students are learning differently online. Online courses tended to require more student responsibility, more reading, more self-discipline, and more independent learning. Students also enjoyed a greater amount of flexibility and convenience, reporting the logistical features to be the best attributes of learning online. Classroom-based course still received higher ratings in the areas related to interaction, communication and participation. The results also revealed important demographic information about online learners and how those demographics impacted the perceived experiences. More females are enrolled in online courses and are more likely to continue learning online in the future. Female students are also more likely to be employed full-time and completing their education at an older age.

The challenge to educators is now to determine how to take the best of both formats and create an optimal learning environment for all students. The challenge for students is develop new learning skills that can increase the engagement and effectiveness of education to compliment the new learning environments.


Hilary Bertsch  (United States)
Distance Education and Integration Specialist
Center for Adult Learning
University of Minnesota, Crookston

  • Online learning
  • Distance education

(Virtual Presentation, English)