The following essay, stating the similarities between traditional and online learning, was developed collaboratively. The introduction was written in class, by the teacher, shaping students’ abundant contributions into a coherent piece and ending with the stipulated thesis statement. Then, also as a whole-class, the main similarities were brainstormed and the three most relevant ones were selected. Students were divided into groups and each group wrote one of the development paragraphs, which were later typed by the students in our collaborative wiki, where all the group members had the chance to revise their paragraph and make changes to make the text more effective. Finally, a student who had missed the class wrote the conclusion. Of course, since it’s a collective essay, it may perhaps sound a bit artificial or present an overuse of transition words. The point of the assignment was to put into practice the techniques learned in the chapter about comparison essays and use the cohesive devices proposed. It was an interesting experience of sharing and negotiating thinking and composing processes.
There are two different environments of learning – face-to-face and online. When people think about these two, they naturally consider their differences. For example, virtual classes are claimed to be less engaging than face-to-face ones, or less demanding, for that matter. Conversely, the fact that the former have a more flexible schedule than the latter is generally highlighted. In sum, differences favoring one or the other environment of instruction abound. What many times is overlooked is that, though e-learning and face-to-face learning are different in many aspects, there are also some relevant similarities.
First of all, contrary to what many people think, both online and face-to-face learning require a lot of work. Both demand, for instance, considerable planning from the teacher and studying from the students. Furthermore, the students’ participation is equally necessary and effective; likewise, class management may be essential for achieving great results in the classroom and online. Also, teachers and students know that giving and receiving feedback is important in both environments. In the same way, assignments are a huge part of the learning experience, since it is great practice for everyone involved.
As unbelievable as it may seem, online classes can be as entertaining as face-to-face ones. Although it is not possible to move chairs around or to have talking corners in an online environment, it is just as possible to include songs, movies, games, discussions and other entertaining activities. Besides, technology by itself can serve as a source of entertainment, because when you use a video chat or an app like Songify, students can have as much fun as in a face-to-face class.
Moreover, e-learning can be as effective as face-to-face learning. People can achieve satisfactory results in both environments, since these are able to host discussions of the same level. Usually, online classes are underestimated for their lack of personal interaction. However, this preconception is being left behind with the rising popularization of social networking resources. Nowadays, there are many technological tools capable of allowing students to interact with their classmates and teacher. Good examples of virtual interaction artifices are Facebook, the Moodle Platform, Wikispaces and Skype. All of them are social media devices used in online classes to minimize the distance between students and to make online classes as interesting as face-to-face ones.
As seen, e-learning can be as great as the face-to face learning environment. Students can benefit from the interaction teachers can provide in the forum they create presented in the online environment. They can have fun with games, activities, quizzes and also videos that contextualize the topics proposed by teachers. These facts show that students will benefit from online classes as well as they already benefit from face-to face classes. In summary, an e-learning environment is certainly another good way to help students improve and develop their skills.