Similarities and Differences between Online and University Degrees

Online education is the most recent kind of learning whereby students are acquiring degrees through the internet. It has been facilitated by advancement in internet technology, which has made the world a global village (Breivik & Gee 2006 p 47). More over, it has made learning accessible from home or any other place apart from an educational institution. The learners communicate through the internet with the instructor at any time of the day. They are given passwords to particular sites where they can effectively communicate with the educators and access online libraries. This means that the time for accessing materials is not limited since students study at their own convenience. Online education is only accessible to the students who have access to computers and the internet. More students are getting enrollment on online education programs and it has a high potential for growth as the internet technology continues to get established in many countries.

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On the other hand, attending classes in a college is the conventional method of education whereby individuals learn from a face to face interaction with the instructors. Students attend lessons, take notes and do exams under the supervision of instructors. Each college usually has a minimum number of lessons that the student needs to physically attend to be allowed to take exams in a particular course. It may be accomplished through flexible means such as part time learning whereby the students may be working as they study. Both online and college systems of learning are essential in helping people to acquire degrees. They have similarities in regard to the qualifications for admission, curriculum, and the use of internet in research. They differ in mode of instruction, communication and access to learning materials, interaction with other learners and group work, accessibility of educational institution and effectiveness of learning. However, college acquired degrees are better than online degrees.

Learning through the internet, which in other words is referred to as online learning is similar to attending college for a degree course in many ways. In regard to the qualifications for a degree course, the students have to proof to the institution offering the course that they are qualified through submitting their Curriculum Vitae and supporting documents to proof that they are qualified for the course. They also have to proof their true identity to the administration and therefore there can be no personification. This is done through submitting the country Identification Card, passport or the popular documents in that is regarded as the most appropriate for identification purposes, which bears the name and other important aspects such as a size photograph of the applicant (Breivik & Gee 2006 p 51).

The curriculum followed in both systems is usually the same. The students follow a particular schedule that guides all those taking the course. The materials and examinations for the course being taken are usually the same. The instructors in online education and the college educators have similar qualification, and they are selected through the normal process. Most of the instructors in online education are college instructors and therefore the level of education is usually the same. They are competent in the courses that they teach in college. Both require determination in understanding concepts since no certificate can be awarded unless the student passes examinations.

Both online learners and the conventional college students use the internet as an educational resource. They use it for research and communication purposes, hence it is not exclusively meant for online learners. The internet usually comes in handy when the students begin their research projects as well as writing thesis and dissertations. Students in both systems often use the internet to communicate with their instructors.

Differences between Online and University Degrees

The two systems of education have various differences. The manner in which the instructions are offered is different in the sense that in online education, it is through the internet while in college based learning the students interact face to face with the instructors. In the internet based learning, students can communicate with the instructors any time they wish. The same case applies to libraries. They can access educational materials any time at their own convenience. The college based students have a limited time for communicating with instructors. They may communicate during the day or during the early hours of the night. This is because the most appropriate time for communication is during the normal lectures or the scheduled time for meeting the instructors. Even though they communicate through the internet, it is usually not pronounced as communication between the online students and their instructors. More over, educational materials are usually acquired through physically borrowing them from the library, which is a bit inconvenient especially if they are urgently required in an hour when the libraries are closed. The online libraries are accessible throughout. Even though the college students can buy access to online libraries, they mainly depend on the school libraries.

Another major difference is the fact that online students may not have a chance to interact physically with other students undertaking the same course. Even though they can engage in forums through the internet, certain skills such as public speaking and presentation skills may not be accomplished since the student makes and individual contribution without having an opportunity to engage in constructive group debates. This is usually possible for college based students who have an opportunity for forming discussion groups that are necessary in any educational setup. Attendance is highly recommended in the college based classes and students have to stick to the daily schedule of classes and therefore have to be residents of the area around the college. On the other hand, the internet classes are flexible and the students have an opportunity to adjust them to fit their schedule.

Education through the internet may be acquired from anywhere globally. Most of the lessons are usually recorded for all the students to access them whenever they log in to the class. In other words, the student attends a class that has already passed and has the opportunity to wind back particular statements that may not be clear or stop to attend to an urgent issue. For college based education, it is usually difficult to have the information restated exactly the way it was stated earlier. When a student is late for a lecture, there is a possibility of not understanding particular concepts taught in his/her absence. However, the instructor can be requested to repeat or clarify certain points when in a college based class. The video taped lecture can only be winded back, stopped or forwarded. In regard to technical courses that require laboratory tests, it is difficult for an online student to perform them especially when a laboratory is not available, which is a practice that is possible in college based education.


Both education through the internet and college based learning require that the applicants be qualified for the particular level of education they apply for. The applicant has to submit details regarding personal qualifications and identity. Both systems follow a similar curriculum and therefore students learn the same things. The major difference is the means of instructions. College students interact physically with the instructors while it is not possible among the online learners. College based education requires commuting and the physical attendance of classes while online education can be acquired from anywhere globally. Even though both internet education and college based education offer significant education to students in spite of their similarities and differences, college based education is better.


Breivik P. S. & Gee G. Higher Education in the Internet Age: Libraries Creating a Strategic

Edge, Greenwood Press, 2006

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