The Traditional Student vs. the Online Learner
Students in a traditional course may perform much better than in an online format because the class may require no computer prerequisites. In an online format, computer skills are assumed or they are to be learned in addition to the content of the class (which can cause overload and frustration). Some students need the structure of a traditional class. They may feel the need to see and interact with the instructor. They may be familiar with the format of a traditional class from their previous schooling. They may have had a bad online experience. Or, quite simply, they may learn better in a traditional setting.
On the other hand, students in online courses may perform better because they are not restricted to class lectures and their learning can be self guided. They like the anywhere anytime approach. The online class fits their busy schedule. They may already possess the prerequisite computer skills and beyond. They may feel empowered in the online format. They may enjoy exploring the online format; making use of instructor supplied links for further reading and research. The online student is a new breed; a different kind of learner; one who is self motivated and self guided rather than constructed.
It should be noted that online classes are not an easy way out. Students should realize that just because they are taking an online class, it does not mean it will be easier. In most cases it is more difficult. Their time management skills are tested and their own personal motivation and perseverance to finish the class are also.