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For millennia education took place "face-to-face" between mentors and their students. However, it is no longer necessary for professors to be in direct contact with their students. Courses are taught using the internet and are either called online teaching, online education, or distance education.

This enables students who have hectic or erratic schedules to avail themselves of educational opportunities. There are different online delivery methods as well as major differences between traditional and online education.

Online Education

A major strength of online education is that it can be offered in an asynchronous format. That is, the professor and students can access the course online and post comments anytime they wish during the week, as long as attendance requirements are met. Students have the necessary flexibility so that they can meet the course requirements within their particular schedules.

There are different types of online teaching. There are regular courses with much interaction between students and teachers, hybrid courses utilize a combination of asynchronous and synchronous delivery methods in which the class has specified times to meet and discuss topics via a chat-room, or CD courses in which assignments are posted to an email address, graded, and returned. This enables students to choose the type of delivery system that is most complementary to their schedule.

Software companies have developed different educational software programs, or learning platforms, that have become popular. This includes BlackBoard, eCollege, WebCT, Embanet, Angel, and Moodle. There are advantages and disadvantages for all of them. However, they all have one thing in common: Simplicity of use. There is a very short learning curve for both professors and students alike. The academic institution chooses the delivery system and then trains their professors to use it.

In addition to the benefits of online education, there are also certain disadvantages. This learning format is not for everyone. People who habitually procrastinate or need one-on-one help may find that traditional education is more conducive to success. Students must be intrinsically motivated to succeed. Students in online courses are self-taught while having the guidance and help of their professor. Thus, the educational format a student chooses must be done with care.

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Online Teaching