Perceptions of Distance Learning: A Comparison of Online and Traditional Learning
Universities have long experimented with different learning environments to accommodate the needs of their students. Along with the traditional classroom, we have seen the use of correspondence courses, courses on tape, televised courses, and most recently internet-based distance education. Utilizing a 22-question survey with 217 respondents, who were primarily adult, part-time students enrolled in criminal justice courses, this research examined why students chose distance education, and student perceptions of the quality and difficulty of those courses as compared to courses taught in the traditional classroom. The data indicate that students strongly prefer distance education, largely because it allows them to balance their other commitments more easily. Respondents also perceive that they achieve higher quality educational outcomes in the distance learning environment. They do not believe that they sacrifice a quality education for the convenience of utilizing distance learning. While distance learning may be most appropriate at colleges and universities with large numbers of adult learners, commuters, and part time students, there may be some educational advantages for institutions to integrate some of the best aspects of distance learning into traditional courses to build a "hybrid" learning environment.
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