E-Learning Dissertation

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e-Learning vs. F2F/Traditional Learning

The highly distinct and salient differences between online learning (or e-learning) and traditional learning stems from the former's usage of information and communication technologies, or ICT. This difference in the channel or medium of instruction resulted to the following changes or shifts in the learning environment of students and educators: (i) educators as facilitators in e-learning vs. being traditionally known as knowledge givers; (ii) preference of individualist learners to e-learning vs. collectivist learners subsisting to traditional learning; and (iii) more diverse learners' profile vs. highly classified and specific profile of students based on curriculum, educational level and age group. Using the qualitative-quantitative research design, this proposed research will determine if indeed, these differences between online and traditional learning have an influence and effect on the effectiveness of each in delivering quality education to students.


The emergence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has changed the landscape of almost all social sectors and aspects of people's everyday lives. In fact, the education sector is one of the earliest sectors that has witnessed the pervasiveness and experienced the benefits of ICT-mediated education. e-Education, or more specifically, e-Learning (or online learning) is the emergent approach to learning and teaching that is rapidly gaining ground as an alternative learning and teaching method to students and educators, respectively.

Although e-learning is far from eroding the prevalence and dominance of face-to-face or traditional learning (i.e., learning in the classroom setting), its increased use in universities and academic institutions have inevitably led both learners and educators, and even researchers on education, to compare the benefits, advantages and disadvantages of these learning approaches. Further into this comparison is an evaluation of points of similarities and differences between online and traditional learning.

It is critical, then, to provide and determine a comparative evaluation of online learning vs. traditional learning. This research proposal shall look into the relevant literature surrounding online learning usage and a comparison of its effectiveness to traditional learning. Furthermore, the proposed research will focus on the following themes relevant to both learning approaches, which explore their changes or modifications as these learning processes are developed and applied using the ICT platform: (1) role of the instructor, (2) learning styles promoted, and (3) profile and diversity of learners.

Objective of the Study:

Main Objective: Determine and compare the effectiveness of online and traditional learning approaches in delivering quality education.

Specific Objectives:

1) Determine the profile of users / respondents of online and/or traditional learning approaches;

2) Identify the attitudes and perceptions of respondents toward online and traditional learning;

3) Identify the learning styles of respondents using the online and tradition learning approaches;

4) Describe the nature and dynamics of online and traditional learning approaches as determined by respondents;

5) Evaluate the effectiveness of online and traditional learning approaches; and

6) Provide a comparative evaluation of the effectiveness of online and traditional learning approaches.

Review of Related Literature

Critical in the assessment of the effectiveness of online and traditional learning approaches are their salient differences from each other. This review of related literature enumerates and discusses the observed differences of these learning approaches. Further, these differences will be used in the study as the variables from which the comparative assessment / evaluation concepts and measures will be based. This section will focus on three major themes, which are also points of difference and similarity, between online and traditional learning: (i) the role of the instructor, (ii) learning style of students, (iii) profile of users/learners, (iv) quality of education and (v) creative collaboration.

One of the most salient observed differences between online and traditional learning is the changed role of the instructor or educator in the student's learning process. In traditional learning, the educator is the primary source of knowledge; in fact, schools and universities subsisting to the traditional form of education would consider teachers as "knowledge givers," indicating a one-way knowledge transmission process, from the educators to students (Zhang, 2009: 131). Online learning changed the role that educators assume in the learning process. Instead of being knowledge givers, educators act as facilitators or moderators, which require them to be actively involved in the students' learning process with the help of ICT. Online learning differs from traditional learning in that it provides both students and teachers an interactive, two-way learning and knowledge sharing processes.

Studies on different learning approaches and individual learning styles determined that the appropriateness of online or traditional learning is dependent on the prevalent cultural environment of the students. In general, the appropriateness of a learning approach is dependent on the values, traditions and beliefs that students grew up learning in their social environment. Studies from Zhang (2009) and Keller (2009), for example, have demonstrated that students have different learning styles and also have different predispositions towards their preference and usage of online learning with or more than traditional learning. Analyses in both studies determined that like culture, learning styles are either individualist or collectivist. That is, an individualist student prefers to learn and work on course problem alone, while a collectivist learner enjoys collaborating / cooperating with other students in understanding a lesson or accomplishing a school task. It can be said, then, that individualist learners are more predisposed to use online learning, while collectivist ones are more comfortable subsisting to the traditional learning approach.

An unexplored yet distinct difference between online and traditional learning is the profile of their respective learners/students. Online learning is characterized to have a more diverse learners' profile, while traditional learning has a prescribed curriculum that is recommended for a specific age group. In online learning, learners' profile is considered diverse because any individual who has access to e-learning materials, websites and portals can learn any subject or course regardless of his/her age, school membership, educational level and geographic location, among many other factors relevant to learning. This diversity among learners indicate that online learning breaks the barriers that hinder a person from obtaining education, formal or informal (Hughes, 2007: 208). With the presence of online learning, students learn and are taught based on their intellectual capabilities, not based on their age or educational level. Conversely, traditional learning, meanwhile, follows a specific structure and curriculum that determines which courses and subjects are recommended and appropriate for a specific age group, educational level and sometimes, even intellectual capability.

Although online and traditional learning have numerous differences that could be advantages or disadvantages to students and educators, both approaches ultimately aim to promote quality learning and creative collaboration among students and between students and educators. Online and traditional learning promote quality of learning because both subsist to the same factors and metrics that aim to determine their effectiveness as approaches to learning. Educators and students evaluate these approaches using the same metrics in determining quality of education provided: monitoring of learning goals, usage of informal or formal supervision; and identifying students/learners' profiles and attitudes to learning (Todd, 2009: 389). Comparatively, however, traditional learning has more reliable and valid evaluation measures and tools that will help assess quality of education, as compared to the online learning approach.

Another similarity between the two learning approaches is their promotion of creative collaboration between educators and students. Traditional learning have always promoted alternative (not ICT-mediated) forms of learning, wherein educators are encouraged to allow students alternative experiences in learning, such as educational trips, film showings, social / scientific experiments, for example. Similarly, the very nature of ICT-mediated / online learning is an alternative form of learning in itself, but further into this approach, students and educators are also encouraged to "stretch" their imaginations by developing alternative means to illustrate or demonstrate their understanding of a topic or subject using technologies or media that can be used in the ICT platform (Todd, 2009: 390).


The proposed methodology for this evaluation study is quantitative-qualitative research design, with qualitative research as the dominant domain of the study. Using the various methodologies under each design, the researcher will determine the profile of users, nature and dynamics of online and traditional learning, and provide a comparative evaluation of these two learning approaches.

Ethnography through direct observation, in-depth interviews, meta-analyses of studies, measures and tools on evaluating online and traditional learning, and experimental methods will be used in gathering data and information that will answer the objectives outlined in this proposal. Each method responds to a set of objectives of the study. Ethnography through direct observation will help the researcher identify the nature and dynamics of online and traditional learning as implemented by educators and applied to students. In addition, in-depth interviews will be conducted to provide more meaningful explanations to observations generated during the Ethnography method. Meta-analysis will be used in determining the appropriate tool and/or measures that will be used in the comparative evaluation of the learning approaches, while the experimental method shall provide a quantitative basis in determining the effectiveness of online and traditional learning in improving students' competency and the quality of education.

Primary units of analysis will be educators and students.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Cite This Dissertation:

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E-Learning.  (2010, June 24).  Retrieved January 27, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/e-learning-face/2131567

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"E-Learning."  24 June 2010.  Web.  27 January 2020. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/e-learning-face/2131567>.

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"E-Learning."  Essaytown.com.  June 24, 2010.  Accessed January 27, 2020.