One major difference between traditional and online education is the amount of face-to-face interaction among students and faculty. In a classroom, students engage with their instructor in person on a regular basis, while an online program primarily connects instructors and learners virtually.
Some online degree programs address that lack of face-to-face interaction by implementing live, or synchronous, class sessions. Instructors teach in real time, and multiple students communicate and participate through videoconferencing. Student attendance in live online courses may or may not be required.
Live online courses enable students and instructors to communicate seamlessly from the comfort of their own home or office. And when attending a live online class, students may be able to choose whether they are visible to the instructor and other students or observe without being seen.
Here are three main benefits of choosing an online degree program that includes live classes.
1. You can develop stronger relationships with instructors. When I began my online marketing bachelor’s program at Colorado State University—Global Campus, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to connect with my professors, since we would never physically meet.
But live classrooms gave me the opportunity to put a face to a name and build a relationship and trust between us. Meeting professors face to face put me at ease and gave me a better understanding of what their expectations were for the course. I also felt more inclined to reach out for help moving forward.
2. You can ask questions and receive answers in real time. Live classrooms allow students to freely ask questions and receive answers without waiting for the instructor to respond via email.
For example, when I attended a live class at CSU—Global for information about a final portfolio project, I asked specific questions about the American Psychological Association writing style that my professor answered immediately. I clicked on a button that sent the instructor a notification that there’s a student request.
The professor then verbally called on me in the videoconference. I was then able to verbally share my question and receive an immediate answer.
3. You feel like you are part of a community. Live classrooms bring the essence of a physical classroom to the virtual environment. Meeting online classmates face to face is refreshing because it gives you the feeling you are in a traditional setting but with the flexibility to work remotely.
These online courses create a medium for communication, learning and socialization. Even if live classes aren’t mandatory, I always choose to attend because I feel like I am in a physical classroom. I am able to find common interests with my peers – many of whom are also marketing majors – and we can discuss our coursework and career paths.
The takeaway: Choosing an online program with live classes can help students build stronger bonds with instructors and classmates, ask questions in real time and feel like part of a school community.